‘My Cultural Life’ – Mrs S Sharman
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!
Our next interview comes from Mrs Sarah Sharman, Head of History and Higher Education at Stamford High School:
The box set I’m hooked on…
I tend not to get overly ‘hooked’ on box sets. The last thing I watched start to finish in a couple of days was the recent series of ‘The A Word’ which follows one family’s story to negotiate life with a child with autism. I am also currently working my way through Breaking Bad… Late to the party I know.
My favourite play…
This is a two way contest between Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I first read Journey’s End when I studied it in Year 12 and developed a deep sympathy for the character Lieutenant Osborne. The Woman in Black was one of the first plays I saw as an adult. I remember feeling genuinely terrified by the production at the small Fortune Theatre in London. The ending of the play was on my mind for days after. Neither film, for me, live up to the power of the plays.
My favourite author or book…
I have favourite books in different genres and for particular reasons. One of my favourites is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I just find the intensity of Kathy and Heathcliff’s relationship so captivating.
The book I’m reading…
‘If Only They Didn’t Speak English’ by Jon Sopel. It explores American politics and society, especially under the Trump presidency. I was encouraged to read the book, which stresses the ‘foreignness’ of America – something we underestimate – when I began to notice the cultural differences between us and my American relatives.
The book I wish I had written…
‘Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado Perez. It’s not so much that I wish I had written it, per se, but more that I cannot believe that someone had not written this book earlier. It explores the range of inequalities inherent in the setup of modern life that make women’s lives more difficult, dangerous or deadly. A fascinating but infuriating read.
The book that saved me…
I don’t feel I have anything quite like this. So I will go for the book I think had the most profound impact on me – The Handmaid’s Tale. I read it in Year 11 and it opened my eyes to dystopian ideas and really made me think about the potential impact of some of the developments in our society. I was completely hooked on the TV series too and think that it came at an interesting time politically, socially and environmentally.
The book I couldn’t finish…
I always strive to finish books, but I do find some a struggle. Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses requires you to constantly re-read to comprehend what is being described. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is beautifully written yet time-consuming. But it’s worth it to explore beyond the façade of the West End musical.
The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…
George Orwell’s 1984. I can see it now, on my shelf, staring at me.
My favourite film…
This is really dependent on my mood. I love different films for different reasons. I love Dunkirk for the beautiful musical score. I love Mrs Doubtfire as I watched it growing up and adore the late Robin Williams. I often put films or favourite TV programmes on ‘in the background’ – not as something to watch intently but something to provide reassuring background noise.
My favourite TV series…
It is too embarrassing to say Coronation Street so I am going to go for anything starring Ricky Gervais. I find his character acting incredibly clever and well observed. He is able to draw on such as wide range of emotions. I can re-watch The Office and still cringe, and re-watch Derek or After Life and still sob.
My favourite piece of music…
Again this is a difficult choice, I love music and listen to it all the time. I love the works of J.S. Bach, Tallis and Mendelssohn. I also enjoy big choral pieces. At the moment, Eternal Source of Light Divine by George Frederic Handel is a strong contender for favourite.
The last TV programme that made me cry…
Unorthodox (on Netflix). It is about one woman’s journey to escape ultra-Orthodox Jewish life in the close community of Williamsburg in New York to join the increasingly cosmopolitan community in Berlin. A very powerful 3-parter – it ended before I wanted it to.
The lyric I wish I’d written…
This is something I have never considered before. I think the lyric’s to ABBA’s ‘Slipping through my Fingers’ are so well considered and capture the complexity of the relationship between mother and daughter – so maybe these. Year 13’s performance of this song at Leavers’ a couple of years ago had me in tears.
My guiltiest cultural pleasure…
Re-watching Harry Potter films. I once watched all 8, with friends, in an 18-19 hour all-day marathon. It gave me a bizarre sense of achievement.
If I could own one painting…
Again – really hard! On balance, probably Theophile Steinlen’s poster for Le Chat Noir – the cat on it looks so much like my own.
The instrument I wish I’d learnt…
The piano. I believe to be truly musical and to understand the mechanics of music, you should be able to play the piano.
The music that cheers me up…
Almost anything by ABBA. Love listening to it whilst cooking, with the kitchen door open into the garden on a sunny day.
The place I feel happiest…
In the UK is Oxford. I lived there for a few years and have the fondest memories there. Every time I visit I recall wonderful moments at many locations. It’s always still tinged with a little sadness that I am not still living there and that the city moves on. Another happy place is Bruges in Belgium. It is such a beautiful city – I love its architecture and its culture. I love nothing more than spending a Spring afternoon sat outside a bar or café on its square, playing cards with my husband and watching the city. It is one of the first places I will book to go back to once we can travel again.
The film/play I walked out of…
I have never done this. I am not sure I ever would. I believe that even if you do not enjoy something it is still valuable to watch, listen to or read it. I certainly don’t think you should ever walk out of something because you think you do not agree with it. Everything deserves to be heard out. If nothing else, it will provide a talking point.
I’m having a fantasy dinner party…
I’ll invite these artists and authors. I think I may invite Margaret Atwood – I want to speak to her about the recent televised ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, as it was reported that Gilead was far more horrific in that than she’d imagined it, and I would like to discuss that. Ricky Gervais should be there – his views on the extent of free speech would make any conversation interesting. Not sure who else just yet…
And I’ll put on this music…
an eclectic Spotify playlist. My dinner parties always end with the phone being passed for everyone to pick songs anyway so the guests would choose. The transition between Mozart and Jay Z is not jarring at all.
I wasted an evening…
(or many an evening) watching old episodes of Don’t Tell the Bride. It never fails to get me hooked. The more disastrous the groom’s plan, the better,
a little known film called Once. So few people have heard of it or seen it. It follows the complicated relationship between 2 budding musicians living in Dublin. It features the music of Glen Hansard who stars as the male lead in the film. The soundtrack is beautiful and it is wonderfully shot. I particularly love the fact it is so obviously and richly based in Dublin – another of my favourite cities.
For me, anything by John Le Carre. Always too convoluted and involved! More of a test of your ability to concentrate or deduce than entertainment.
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