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‘My Cultural Life’ – Mrs C Vie

‘My Cultural Life’ – Mrs C Vie

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.

 

Learn more about the cultural interests of Mrs Catherine Vie, Head of French at Stamford High School.

The box set I’m hooked on…

A French show called ‘Engrenages’ (or ‘Spiral’ in English). I am a fan of police/justice drama series and someone recommended this one to me. I was hooked from the beginning and not just because Grégory Fitoussi is rather handsome. (Spoiler alert!…….. He was killed off in series 5 and I carried on watching, so there must be more to it than that!) The character development is compelling, as are the often-gruesome stories. There is nothing Hollywood-esque about this series; the French don’t need Hollywood (c’est qui?). If you want to brush up on how the French really speak, put down Racine (if you are not already asleep) and watch this!

My favourite play…

It would have to be ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ by Edmond Rostand. It is exquisite in terms of language and story, and Gérard Depardieu’s interpretation of Cyrano in the film is brilliant. I have never seen this in the theatre and  I would love to see it in Paris with my husband, as it is also his favourite play. A play I really enjoyed reading and remember finding very funny (unlike my classmates) was The Duchess of Malfi when I was an A Level English student; again, I would love to see it performed. I ought to re-read it – A Levels were a century ago.

My favourite author or book…

I do not have a favourite author or book; what I read, and when, depends on my circumstances, how much time I have and how much I want to be challenged (i.e. whether I need a dictionary by my side – I am such a language geek, I HAVE to look up unfamiliar words). One of my favourite classics would have to be ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy, but I would not say I am a fan of all Hardy novels; I tried and failed twice to get into Jude the Obscure. I had to have two attempts at Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Weirdly, the first time I couldn’t get into it, yet the second time I was hooked and could not put it down; it is now one of my favourite stories. As the French would say: “il ne faut pas chercher…” I really like stories relating to historical events and therefore enjoy reading Victoria Hislop stories by a pool or on the beach (where a huge dictionary would be impractical or a bit weird). I have to also mention a favourite French novel: Le Colonel Chabert (Balzac), which I would recommend to A level students as it is not too difficult, it’s a good story with a sad ending and examines (among other things) human nature. Depardieu also played Le Colonel in a film adaptation.

The book I’m reading…

It’s a book I borrowed from my mum, who also likes a good story within an historical setting, and it is called ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife’ by Dinah Jefferies. It’s a very easy read and a good story – ideal for reading a few pages when you can’t really see properly after spending the evening preparing your remote lessons and trying to make your on-screen stylus pen handwriting look marginally better than your daughter’s when she was 5 years old.

The book I wish I had written…

‘All The Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. Haunting and beautiful.

The book that saved me…

Jo Pratt’s ‘In the Mood for Food’ was given to me for a birthday by a very dear friend. Such a brilliant idea to divide up recipes according to your mood. They are delicious and definitely calorie-free, especially her white chocolate and Baileys baked cheesecake. YUM. Make sure you follow a diet for six years after eating this.

The book I couldn’t finish…

Jude the Obscure – just found it hard-going….

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…

It would have to be Shakespeare – I feel I ought to be familiar with more than the plays I read as an A Level student. I studied Hamlet and Much Ado and loved them both. I did Macbeth for GCSE and have read the Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s dream, but that’s it.

My favourite film…

Difficult. When I was younger I loved the Godfather trilogy but haven’t watched them for a long time. I think I have watched the thriller ‘Ne Le Dis à Personne’ (Tell no one) about 50 times over the years with my GCSE/A Level classes, but I still find it draws me in every time. I think the whole French department and all students love ‘Intouchables’, which has the same actors as ‘Ne Le Dis à Personne’  – François Cluzet and Omar Sy, who I think is brilliant and hilarious in this film. Again, great film to watch if you want to improve your French slang. Another wonderful film is ‘Das Leben der Anderen’ (The Lives of Others) – an historical drama set in 80s Berlin at the height of the Cold War and Stasi activity. I find this period of history very interesting and really quite astonishing that the situation changed so quickly with what was coined as die Wende (the turning point) in 1989 and subsequently Wiedervereinigung (reunification of Germany) on 3rd October 1990. It all happened when I was studying German and German politics, society and history at University (along with French) so events were significant and relevant to me personally.

My favourite Netflix series…

‘La Casa de Papel’ (Money Heist) – it’s so exciting! I got into this with my daughter, who did Spanish for A Level; I also try to watch as much Spanish on TV as I can, in order to improve my understanding. I am not sure Mrs Rubio would approve of my new vocabulary but I can honestly say my understanding of Spanish continues to develop because of the plethora of good Spanish series. (Another one to watch would be ‘Sé Quién Eres’ (I Know Who You Are).

My favourite piece of music…

I have very eclectic tastes. My father is a pianist and the composers I remember him playing the most when I was a child are Brahms, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Listz and Chopin. He used to play Listz’s Liebesleid and Liebestraum as “my bedtime music” and listening to him playing them now at 77 still moves me. I basically love music for piano from the Romanantic period, but especially Chopin as his music allows the pianist to put so much of themselves into it. As a flautist, I enjoy playing Bach and (funnily enough) modern French composers such as Poulenc and Milhaud as well as the Mozart flute quartets. Finally, I love heavy rock/metal music; as a teenager I started with Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, then progressed to glam metal bands such as Motley Crue, Cinderella and Poison, then went a bit heavier to Guns n Roses and Metallica. A band I have discovered more recently are Alter Bridge due to their lead singer’s collaboration with Slash (from Guns n Roses). I listen to Alter Bridge when I go to the gym. Oh, and I also went to see Lewis Capaldi recently. Again: “il ne faut pas chercher!”

The last TV programme that made me cry…

I am pretty terrible when it comes to crying at TV programmes and it was probably Money Heist when Nairobi died. It’s a family failing and my daughter was just as bad. She was such a huge character and her death was tragic for the group.

The lyric I wish I’d written…

Ne me quitte pas by Jacques Brel. Profound; I sing it to my husband every day.

If I could own one painting…

Renoir’s ’Jeunes Filles au Piano’. I do like Renoir and Monet, and in particular their use of light and colour; with this painting in particular, I can “hear” the girls talking and playing the piano – it’s alive for me.

The instrument I wish I’d learnt…

The cello. I think it is a beautiful instrument and you cannot beat Jacqueline Du Pré playing the Elgar Cello concerto. It’s so moving.

The music that cheers me up…

High School Musical. Brings back memories of when we took my daughters to Disneyland Paris, one dressed as Cinderella and the other as Belle. They were obsessed with High School Musical and we saw a live outdoor show there. They will hate me for saying this, but they often burst into High School Musical numbers now. What is worse is that I know virtually all the lyrics of all three films. Oh dear!

The place I feel happiest…

Les Alpes. We have had some fabulous times skiing in the winter and walking in the summer. We also love the food there, especially Tartiflette. I just love the smell of the Alps. I want to live there one day.

The film/play I walked out of…

‘Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis’ (The Caucasian Chalk Circle) by Brecht, when I was in Berlin and I just wasn’t in the mood for Brecht. I also remember being very tired and hungry, which was not conducive to the concentration necessary to understand Brecht and what’s more, in German!

 

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

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