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‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr N Rudd-Jones

‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr N Rudd-Jones

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.

 

Mr Nicholas Rudd-Jones, Chairman of Governors, provides his take on ‘My Cultural Life’:

The box set I’m hooked on…

Sorry, I don’t do boxed sets. Other members of my family have told me that this makes me an old fogie.

My favourite play…

The plays that work best create great drama or emotion…and in that respect Peter Schaffer’s Equus always stands out for me.

My favourite author or book…

Akenfield, by Ronald Blythe: an unadorned story of a Suffolk village, not told through the lens of a pastoral idealist, but by the folk who lived there, warts and all.

The book I’m reading…

DH Lawrence: A Personal Record by Jessie Chambers. She is the ‘Miriam’ of Sons & Lovers, Lawrence’s first love. A rather obscure read, but very vivid. It’s part of my research into a new book I am writing called ‘Literary Rambles’, which traces the favourite paths and hidden places of our great writers.

The book I wish I had written…

The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane. I have always been fascinated by the origin of paths and he more than anyone can bring a subject to life.

The book that saved me…

Krishnamurti: The Impossible Question. As a young man in my twenties, trekking round Nepal got me thinking about philosophical questions.

The book I couldn’t finish…

Whilst James Joyce’s Ulysses floors most A level students, I passed that with flying colours only to fail the final hurdle at university, where we were expected to read Finnegans Wake. Not even Brodie’s Notes could save me…

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…

Far too many Charles Dickens novels…in fact I’m not really sure I’ve read any properly other than ‘Tale of Two Cities’ which was a set text at school. It would be a far, far better thing now if I rectified this reading shortfall…

My favourite film…

Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino. Not his usual level of violence fortunately, but a story of everyday folk beautifully depicted, dolorous yet life-affirming at the same time.

My favourite TV series…

Really enjoying the third series of David Olusoga’s ‘A House Through Time’, which is set in Bristol and brings social history to vivid life by tracing all the inhabitants of the house from the time it was built to the present day. I love the bit where one of the inhabitants actually walks through the door…

My favourite piece of music…

My son Sam, who is studying music at university and started out loving music at SES, has introduced me to modern composers, and forced me to listen to them so much that I now genuinely love them. As such, I will I name two here: Thomas Ades, the leading classical composer of our generation, and Anna Meredith, who sits on the bridge between classical and pop music.

The lyric I wish I’d written…

Early Arctic Monkeys lyrics, for example: ‘Life’s not a competition, but I’m winning’ or ‘The town’s a different town to what it was last night’ or ‘Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure’.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure…

Gardeners’ World with Monty Don…soporific, re-assuring and useful in equal measure.

If I could own one painting…

The Splash, by David Hockney – not sure why, except that sense of expectation and Americanness is so alluring in one’s teenage years.

The instrument I wish I’d learnt…

The bassoon. Well I did learn it in fact but stalled at Grade III with embouchure problems, still unable to play Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto.

The music that cheers me up…

All music cheers me up, be it classical or pop – it’s the tonic of life.

The place I feel happiest…

The South Downs in Sussex where I grew up.

The play I walked out of…

Henry VI parts I, II & III, an all-day performance at the Barbican. It would have been cruel punishment to sit through a third play after nearly six hours…. especially as by then the pubs were just opening.

I’m having a fantasy dinner party. I’ll invite these artists and authors…

I think my goal would be to get together the greatest pastoral writers of each era – so Robert Macfarlane from today, Wordsworth from the nineteenth century, Ovid from Greek times who invented the pastoral idyll, William Morris because he has such fantastical ideas of London growing back as a wild paradise, Cobbett waxing lyrical about his Rural Rides, and Celia Fiennes, who explored England on horseback in the seventeenth century.

And I’ll put on this music…

Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten country stuff to celebrate the British countryside, with the Lark Ascending to play in the dessert course.

Underrated…

The beauty of the countryside around here – ‘The Cotswolds without the crowds’ it is well described as. Small contours perhaps, but lots of interesting villages and valleys.

Overrated…

Twitter – it’s the opposite of Wordsworth’s description of good poetry: ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity.’ It’s more emotion hyped up for the sake of an audience.

 

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

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