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Lesson Plan

Level 4

High Life, Low Life Alan Battersby

Aim Answers: a Annie, b Mrs Whittaker, c criminal


Wiseman, d Jackie, e Mrs Whittaker.
To help students get a feel for the different types
of people in the story and their relationships. 6. Ask students to read the information in the
Characters list. Then ask them to read Extracts 2,
1. Write the words high and low on the board. Ask and decide who says or writes them and which
students to get into pairs and come up with as of the characters they refer to.
many different meanings of the words as they Answers: a Mrs Whittaker talking about Charlie
can, with example phrases/sentences. Call back and Betty; b Wilma Patterson talking about
suggestions from the whole class, and elicit/add Mrs Whittaker and Nat; c Nat talking about Tom
any others that are missing. You could make this Whitaker; d Nat talking about Tom Whittaker to
into a dictionary practice exercise. Charlie; e Jackie and Nat talking about Annie;
Possible answers: physical position (high in the f Tom writing to Annie about Jackie; g Nat
sky / low on the ground); feelings (high spirits talking to Jackie about Charlie and Betty; h
(happy) / low spirits (sad)); status in society Betty, Charlie and Jackie talking about Nat.
(a high position / a low position); strength/ 7. Tell students that Nat Marley is the private
weakness (a high wind / a low speed); numerical investigator dealing with the Whittaker case. Ask
value (high speed / low voltage); cultural value them what they know about private investigators.
(high-brow / low-brow); musical (a high note / a What do they do? How do they behave? Ask if they
low note); and related to the title level of luxury have read any novels (e.g. by Raymond Chandler)
(high life / low life). or seen any films or TV series (e.g. Philip Marlow,
2. Ask students to read the Summary of the first Mike Hammer). Put them in pairs to make lists of
part of the story. Ask them who represents the the characteristics of these private investigators and
high life and who the low life. anything else they know about them.
Answer: Joanna Whittaker is a rich widow = 8. Ask students to read the quotations about Nat
high life, and Annie Clayton is homeless = low Marley in Extracts 3 and decide (a) how close
life. what he says and does is to their own ideas of a
3. Ask them if they can see any parallels between private investigator, and (b) what sort of person
the Clayton and the Whittaker families. he seems to be.
Answer: In both families an old lady wants to Answers: (a) open (b) poor (i.e. he has no air
see a lawyer to sort out her financial situation conditioning, uses public transportation), untidy,
after her death. Both women have children they lives alone, eats badly, usually dresses badly,
havent seen for a long time. doesnt use taxis, has contacts for information, he
cares about people / has a social conscience.
4. Ask students to read Extracts 1 and decide who
Based on what they have learned about Nat
they refer to, and what part of the high-life / low-
Marleys character and actions in the story, ask
life category they fall into.
students to write a feature on him for the Daily
Answer: low life: a, c, d; high life: b, e
News.
5. Ask them which people they think might be
connected to the places described.

Cambridge English Readers Cambridge University Press 2009 www.cambridge.org/elt/readers PHOTOCOPIABLE


Lesson Plan
Level 4

High Life, Low Life Alan Battersby


Summary of Chapters 14 Characters
High Life, Low Life starts when Nat Marley, a private Nat Marley: New York private investigator
investigator, saves a homeless woman called Annie
Annie Clayton: a homeless woman
Clayton, when she has a heart attack in the street. He
has known Annie for some time and when he visits Mrs Joanna Whittaker: a rich widow
her in hospital she says she wants him to find her son
Charlie Whittaker: Mrs. Whittakers son
Jackie whom she hasnt seen for twenty years, and to
bring her a lawyer so that she can write her will. Betty Osborne: Mrs Whittakers daughter
The story of Nat helping Annie appears in the paper, Wilma Patterson: a lawyer
along with his photograph, and after that he receives
Jackie Robinson Clayton: Annie Claytons son
a letter from Mrs Joanna Whittaker the rich widow
of Tom Whittaker, an aeroplane magnate. She has Tom Whittaker: Mrs Whittakers dead aircraft
decided to make her will out in Nats favour because magnate husband
he looks like her dead husband, and she is estranged
Ernest Wiseman: criminal, pretending he owns a taxi
from her own children, Charlie and Betty.
business

Extracts 1 Extracts 2
a Weve lived on the streets, Leona said. I can tell
a Do you have any family? asked Stella.
you, its safer underground. Everyone knows each
other here. If a stranger comes, we know about A son and a daughter. They dont live in the
it. The subway workers know us. They leave us city. Id like to see more of them. Especially the
alone. Leona started moving piles of black plastic grandchildren, but
bags. Underneath was an old metal box with a
b She wants it all [her money] to go to you. She
lock.
read about you in the papers. Says you remind her
b I looked around the room which was full of
of her late husband Says she couldnt think of a
beautiful 1940s furniture. Nothing had been
better person to leave everything to.
changed for years and I felt like I was in an old
c Ed went on to tell me that [the man] worked
Hollywood movie.
hard and played hard. Even after he was married
c The guy behind the desk looked as if he hadnt
he played around with other women. It wasnt a
slept, washed or shaved for days. He smelled even
happy marriage
worse than me. He lit a cigarette then coughed for
d I hope appearance is the only thing I share with
a full fifteen seconds. Finally he was able to speak.
your father
d The Chelsea Arms hotel had seen better days.
e So moms been on the street all this time? he asked.
Now it just looked like any other cheap hotel. The
floor was dirty white stone in the lobby. A guy Ever since she last saw you in a cell, I said.
was working on the computer, behind the window
f I can never be a real father to the child. Heres some
at the reception desk. There was another big guy
money to help with food and clothes. And something for
sitting at a table opposite the reception desk. He
the future. Keep these stock certificates. One day they
was obviously there in case of any trouble.
might be worth a lot of money.
e Inside the elevator, it was all dark wood, thick
g And thats not all Youve got family. A half-
carpets and mirrors. If this was just the elevator,
brother and half-sister They live upstate.
imagine what the apartments were like.

Cambridge English Readers Cambridge University Press 2009 www.cambridge.org/elt/readers PHOTOCOPIABLE


Lesson Plan
Level 4

High Life, Low Life Alan Battersby


h Finally, wed all like to say a special thank you to d For once, I looked smart. I had put on a clean shirt
the man whose hard work made this all possible. and my good jacket, which was just back from the
Without him, we might never have met. cleaners.
e I left and took the number seven train home to
Extracts 3 Queens. I couldnt eat much of the takeout meal I
got from the diner down the block.
a After leaving the NYPD, I became a private f I wandered over to McFaddens Bar on Second
investigator. Although I dont make that much Avenue. The usual crowd of Daily News reporters
money, Im my own boss and I dont have to take was there I needed information and I knew just
orders from anybody. I prefer it that way. the guy who could help Ed Winchester.
b Most offices in the building had their own air g I felt both sad and angry as I put down the phone.
conditioning. Mine didnt, so it was hot and Sad for the people who had to live out their lives
uncomfortable. on the streets. Angry about the society that put
c New York private investigators dont normally use them on the streets.
public transportation. But Im different.

Cambridge English Readers Cambridge University Press 2009 www.cambridge.org/elt/readers PHOTOCOPIABLE