‘My Cultural Life’ – Mrs E Farr
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!
Mrs E Farr, Teacher of English and Head of Year 8 at Stamford High School, provides our next entry:
The box set I’m hooked on…
I am proud to announce that my greatest lockdown achievement has been to finish all 30 episodes of ‘Ozark’! I have loved the characterisation of Wendy Byrde, who reminds me of a modern day Lady Macbeth, becoming increasingly ruthless as the drama unfolds. One of the most fascinating concepts has been how quickly people can adapt to a ‘new normal’, on the wrong side of the law, and yet still think of themselves as moral beings.
My favourite play…
This has to be ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ because each time I teach it I am intrigued by how different A Level groups respond to the characters. I’m often bewildered by some students’ tolerance of Stanley and their desire to vilify Blanche. Watching the Gillian Anderson version has been another key highlight of lockdown. Front row seats courtesy of the National Theatre – what’s not to love?
My favourite author…
‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison was the first book that I ever read in virtually one sitting. The beauty of the prose and poetry still enchants me now. I read it as first year university student and sobbed. Reading it now, as a mother myself, makes it even more intense. The cultural relevance of the text seems even more powerful as time goes on: George Floyd, #MeToo, and so on.
The book I’m reading…
‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. This came up on a friend’s Facebook feed of favourite books a week ago. I had promised to give myself a rest from literature set in World War II, but this novel is as unusual and beautiful as ‘The Book Thief’. The haunting advice to ‘open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever’ seems very relevant to a society living through a pandemic. Seeing the war through the senses of a girl that is completely blind was a very original concept that, obviously, magnified the sense of fear and vulnerability.
The book I wish I had written…
‘Wise Children’ by Angela Carter. Dora and Nora burst into life on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ but live by the mottos: ‘what a joy it is to dance and sing’ and ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’. This wise advice is given to them by their Grandma Chance and is fantastic advice for anyone facing adversity. Despite being poor, orphaned and illegitimate, the Chance twins learn to laugh at everyone that seeks to repress them. Shakespeare’s heroes are parodied and instead those on the margins of society are brought centre stage in a carnivalesque look at some of the Bard’s greatest works. Carter seeks to challenge dominant British hegemony in the most playful way. Patriarchal culture is challenged, romantic love is demystified and the bonds of sisterhood are celebrated. A final triumph because Carter was dying of cancer as she wrote this joyful celebration of life.
The book that saved me…
‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ by Fowles is always capable of saving someone going through an existential crisis. It is so empowering as it encourages us to take control of our own destiny rather than spend our lives full of regret. The central character, Charles, has to learn that only he can provide himself with an authentic existence and that one has to adapt in order to survive. Set in 1867 but written in 1967, Fowles asks us to question to what extent we allow ourselves to be defined by the beliefs of our period. In a post-modern way Fowles allows his reader to choose the conclusion they feel is most fitting for the characters. It is a novel about taking opportunities and making choices. That is what life is all about.
The book I couldn’t finish…
‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville. I had to read this at university and it was absolute torture. Every time I started reading I would doze off, I’m ashamed to say.
The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…
My favourite film…
‘Something’s Gotta Give’ with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. This film is not life changing; however, it is comforting, warm and gentle. I never tire of watching Nicholson’s vanity as he has to come to terms with his age and declining health. With these two leads, how can it fail to be anything but charming? Human folly is always entertaining.
My favourite TV series…
I simply cannot choose between ‘Mad Men’ and ‘The Affair’. Both are about tortured, tragic, guilt ridden characters and failing marriages. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m just in love with Don Draper but then I realise that both of these shows are so much more than their leading characters. It’s the whole experience: setting, glamour, music, fashion. Utterly bingeworthy.
My guiltiest cultural pleasure…
Listening to Opera music when cooking and repeatedly saying ‘I love this one’ and then making whaling sounds along to it, when clearly I am tone deaf and don’t know a single lyric!
The place I feel happiest…
Home -surrounded by everything I need. Love, wine, good food, books and Netflix!
The film/play I walked out of…
‘The Revenant’ – I felt that I could sit there for hours and nothing would particularly change: more snow and animal carcasses.
Read all of our ‘My Cultural Life’ entries here.
- Blue Plaques Unveiled
- Co-education at Stamford
- Stamford School Shortlisted for TES Award
- Stamford Endowed Schools students set for the future
- 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