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‘My Cultural Life’ – Kasia Middleton

‘My Cultural Life’ – Kasia Middleton

Mr Mark Zacharias, Head of English at Stamford High School, has started our latest lockdown project  – ‘My Cultural Life’. Inspired by the Times newspaper, amongst others: the Schools present interviews from individuals across our Stamford community, considering their cultural interests, loves and shortcomings.

We hope that these interviews help you to find inspiration during the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in, and that you enjoy learning a little more about us here at Stamford!

View all of our entries here.

 

Read our next entry from Kasia Middleton, Year 11 at Stamford High School:

The box set I’m hooked on…

I’ve recently been addicted to Troy: Fall of a City; it is a BBC dramatization of the Iliad (which I’m currently researching with a view to reading), and so having something to binge on Netflix was a brilliant way to quickly gain an outline of the story and empathy with the characters.

My favourite play…

I love The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. It is very witty and culturally observant, and Victorian writing is probably my favourite stylistically. I read it at the end of Y9, and I was going to see a performance this summer at Tolethorpe. With luck, it will be rescheduled.

My favourite author or book…

I cannot stress enough how much I love Madeline Miller. Her books are beautiful, romantic, realistic and make me feel so full of pure joy I could burst. I have her book, The Song of Achilles, to thank for my passion for classics. I also love F Scott Fitzgerald, but Miller is definitely my number one!

The book I’m reading…

Currently, I’m reading The Gold of Troy by Robert Payne – it’s a biography of Heinrich Schliemann. I normally avoid non-fiction, but this one is actually quite fascinating and engaging.

The book I wish I had written…

I feel as though I should give a really thought out and intelligent answer to this, telling of the incredible prose that I wish had come from my imagination, but honestly? Harry Potter. Who wouldn’t want to have written a series that financially successful?

The book that saved me…

All of my CGP study guides. Not the most cultured response, but they have gone through it, so I might as well show them I’m grateful. They certainly know what it is to be thrown against a wall in anger and frustration…

The book I couldn’t finish…

Anything by Jane Austen. There are so many cousins and manors and husbands. I can’t get myself engaged in a book when I’m constantly having to re-read it to figure out who certain lords and ladies are.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…

Probably Pride and Prejudice. It’s another Austen, but when I saw the film version, I couldn’t understand Elizabeth’s love for Mr Darcy. He humiliated her, was always dark and brooding, and didn’t say a kind word to her. Then, suddenly, he’s professing his love?! I should really give the book a go though; it has been a long time since I watched the film.

My favourite film…

I absolutely love Interstellar. It is mind-bending, beautiful, dramatic, and set in space! It normalises women in STEM too, which is always a bonus. It is absolutely fascinating to watch every single time. I love every scene, and I am always left satisfied with the ending. For me, all the loose ends are tied up, and I don’t feel cheated out of an ending when I leave the film. So brilliant.

My favourite TV series…

It’s ‘Once Upon A Time’ on Netflix. It is a modern take on fairy tales, which I love very much.  So many interesting story lines and beautiful worlds. Jekyll and Hyde also make an appearance!

My favourite piece of music…

I love Evermore by Dan Stevens, from the modern adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. It is such an emotive piece of music about getting your hopes up and finally feeling joy, just to have it taken away from you. I don’t know if Stevens’ voice was edited to sound more beastly, but it is so deep and resonant, and his avoidance of vibrato makes it sound so real…I could go on forever about how much I love this piece.

The lyric I wish I’d written…

From a song called Doom Days by Bastille:

Let’s pick the truth that we believe in
Like a bad religion
Tell me all your original sins
So many questionable choices
We love the sound that our voice makes
Man, this echo chamber’s getting loud

I think this is a brilliant reflection on modern life, as is the rest of the song.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure…

Terrible YA fantasy novels. They’re so clichéd and I can guess the ending by looking at the cover, but they’re such a good escape from the world, and I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to read about magic and fairies once in a while.

If I could own one painting…

I’m going to defy the point of the question here and give two answers. The first is the ceiling of the Wieskirche, which is a rococo church from the 1700s, designed by the Zimmermann brothers. It is so beautiful. But honestly, if I had anything rococo, I’d probably look at it reverentially for the rest of my life. That art style gives me the same feeling as Madeline Miller’s books. The second is Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. I visited the Uffizi where it is kept last year, and the whole museum was awe-inspiring, but The Birth of Venus was so amazing to see in person. I wish I could live in that gallery!

The instrument I wish I’d learnt…

Every day I regret not taking up the harp. It wouldn’t be a convenient lifestyle choice, I grant you, and my back might not thank me after lugging it across town for orchestra, but I play the violin, so you can imagine how much I’d love for a stringed instrument to sound like heaven in my hands for once.

The music that cheers me up…

September by Earth, Wind & Fire, and anything by Frank Sinatra. I don’t know why, but they make me think of simpler times, and feel joyous beyond belief.

The place I feel happiest…

An art gallery in Florence, or in a European church. Not particularly for religious reasons, but I feel like I’m with my grandparents (who have both unfortunately passed away) and they’re so beautifully decorated that just walking in feels like a numinous experience.

The film/play I walked out of…

I walked out of Bohemian Rhapsody during the Live Aid scenes. For some reason, it was so overwhelmingly sad I had to leave and compose myself, so I didn’t disturb people around me with my intermittent snivelling. I haven’t cried at a film that much since.

Underrated…

Vegan food. I’m a vegetarian, struggling to become vegan in a household of meat eaters and with an irrevocable love of cheese; as such, when I go out, I eat the vegan option, and I have never tried something vegan that I didn’t like. Except soy milk. It is foul.

Overrated…

The Office, Parks and Recreation, and other TV shows in the same vein. I’m sad that I don’t  find them funny, because I can see the appeal, but I just get so utterly bored. Maybe I should actually try working in an office first…?

 

Read all of our ‘My Cultural Life’ entries here. 

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