‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr D Laventure
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!
Read about the Cultural Life of Mr D Laventure, Head of Sport at Stamford School, in our latest My Cultural Life entry:
The box set I’m hooked on…
There isn’t one – life is too short for box sets! I am genuinely scared of spending hours on the sofa whilst there are so, so many other brilliant things to see and do.
My favourite play…
“Donkeys Years” by Michael Frayn. A beautiful, simple and classic farce that sends you back to those nostalgic and hazy memories of university days……. Oh, to return!
My favourite author or book…
“The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. This is a beautifully written book; Hemmingway is succinct and to the point, and the persistence and futility of Santiago’s quest speaks to more modern ideas of ‘grit’ and ‘resilience’. It’s difficult to read without smelling the salty air or moving unconsciously with the rhythm of the waves.
The book I’m reading…
“Adventures on the French Wine route” by Kermit Lynch. I am using this to motivate myself to think of holidays and travel opportunities ahead. It’s informative and well-written; however, best of all, you can close your eyes see the vines, hear the accents of the growers and feel the passion for their art (although some might say it’s a science). Anyone who has travelled through France or enjoyed ‘sunshine in a glass’ would enjoy this, as well as the research opportunities that go alongside such a read!
The book I wish I had written…
“The Odyssey” by Homer, which is possibly the greatest story ever told. It has literally everything you need in a heroes story, and its impact and influence since its creation is there for all to see.
The book that saved me…
“Ripley’s World” by Andy Ripley. He was one in a billion: he played international sport, graduated from Cambridge as a mature student, and was one of the last ‘Great Corinthians’ in amateur sport whilst others chased the money. The book reflects on his life after being diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer and is a humbling reflection on love, family and life as an opportunity. Tears, tears and more tears, I’m afraid.
The book I couldn’t finish…
Any Harry Potter! I am truly sorry to all fans, it’s not personal – but the cloak, the wand, it just didn’t inspire me at all.
The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…
My favourite film…
Like Mr Mills and Mr Smith, it has to be ‘Withnail and I.’ This is a beautiful story, brilliantly written and sublimely acted. Set in the 1960s, two out of work actors decide to take a weekend in the country. The soundtrack is mesmerising too. Not a great deal actually happens but it is impossible not to laugh or fall in love with at least one of the characters. A tsunami of nostalgia to boot!
My favourite TV series…
W1A, 2012, Alan Partridge, The Office, Blackadder, The Young Ones, Father Ted – they don’t need an explanation, do they?
My favourite piece of music…
Simon Rattle’s Mahler 2nd Symphony “Resurrection”. This has EVERYTHING! Choral brilliance, fanfares at the gates of heaven, peace, tranquillity – and then a bombardment of the senses. Mahler may have been a dark character but his storytelling in this piece is sensational.
The last TV programme that made me cry…
“Kenny”, the documentary on Kenny Dalglish and Hillsborough. As a lifelong Reds fan, I grew up on Kenny as arguably the greatest British footballer of his generation; I also sadly sat and watched the Hillsborough tragedy unfold on television with a family friend there in the crowd. What happened there, and consequently over time, defies belief. The personal sacrifice and journey of Kenny Dalglish to help the city and the families of the 96 is truly remarkable and humbling.
The lyric I wish I’d written…
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us / And the world will be as one.” It’s from John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Do I really need to explain this choice?
My guiltiest cultural pleasure…
opera, wine, cooking; together, they are the perfect trio and stimulate ALL the senses at the same time! Now that’s not a bad way to spend and evening or three….unless you are one of my neighbours!
If I could own one painting…
It’s a dead heat between two paintings, both called “The Last Judgement.” One is by Michelangelo (in Rome), and one by Tinteretto (in Venice). I have stood in front of both of these, and on both occasions they rendered me speechless – that is how amazing they are! Atmosphere, mystery, beauty – I challenge anyone to stand before them and not lose five minutes before they come back to reality!
The instrument I wish I’d learnt…
The music that cheers me up….
anything by The Rolling Stones – story telling, superb guitar riffs, twisted blues and raw attitude alongside great musicianship and swagger.
The place I feel happiest…
Anywhere with the family. However, if you want an actual geographical location, it would be Parrog and Newport Sands Beach in Pembrokeshire: peace, tranquillity in all seasons, every colour on Mother Nature’s art pallet and the elements out of our control – it is paradise. Please don’t all start piling down there now!
The film/play I walked out of…
ET the Extra Terrestrial. Like paint drying and a lot of it, I’m afraid!
I’m having a fantasy dinner party. I’ll invite these artists and authors…
Waldemar Januscak, Stephen Fry, Andrew Graham-Dixon, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Bernini, Mozart, Wagner, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and (SS teacher) Ollie Gent – what a superb group to argue, debate, eat and drink with. I’d ask them to reflect on what has influenced us to get us to where we are now and more importantly, hear their views on where we should go next. You could sell out Twickenham to watch that unfold!
And I’ll put on this music…
Mozart’s Magic Flute. It’s a work of absolute genius: witty, catchy and happy comical. The maestro himself proves that language isn’t a barrier, that you can smash stereotypes and conformity, and make a difference.
I wasted an evening…
Watching two red kites hunting in the fields near the house.
People – THEY ARE AMAZING! They make you laugh, they make you cry, and they are different every day. The more people I meet, the more fascinating they become; the more they share their stories, the more I want to listen!
Instagram and Facebook – the greatest thieves of time.
Read all of our ‘My Cultural Life’ entries here.
- Blue Plaques Unveiled
- Co-education at Stamford
- Stamford School Shortlisted for TES Award
- Celebrating A 50 Year Association With The School
- Prestigious Prize for SHS Student
- Annual Sponsored Walk Returns to Stamford Endowed Schools
- Debate Raises Money for Mental Health Charity
- 'My Cultural Life' Project
- Arts & Culture
- Cross Country
- Design and Technology
- English & Writing
- House Events
- Modern Foreign Languages
- Music News
- Sixth Form
- Stamford High School
- Stamford Junior School
- Stamford School
- Trips and Events