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‘My Cultural Life’ – N Jeffs

‘My Cultural Life’ – N Jeffs

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.

Our next entry is written by SHS English Teacher, Miss N Jeffs.

The box set I’m hooked on…

I have to say I’ve given boxsets a bit of a rest over the lockdown period, and I’ve got into podcasts. The last boxset I finished was Ozark on Netflix. I absolutely love the characters: Marty can just about talk his way out of anything and I really enjoyed the way his wife Wendy developed as a character as the series progressed. Entertaining, if rather gory at times.

My favourite play..

I’m not good with ‘favourite’ questions because I think we all love different things, in different ways and for different reasons, but last year I went to see the production of War Horse at The Curve twice (once with Gill D’Arcy) and really loved it. The use of the puppetry was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

My favourite author or book…

Another favourite question! There are so many, but I do have a real fondness for the Bronte sisters and all they achieved. I studied ‘Wuthering Heights’ for A Level, and have taught it since, and it will always have a place in my top three. Sadly, I haven’t been able to visit the Brontes’ hometown of Haworth this year, but every time I go, I walk up to Top Withens just to soak up the atmosphere. Maybe one day I’ll have a ghostly encounter with the restless spirits of Cathy and Heathcliff roaming the moors … maybe.

The book I’m reading…

‘Haven’t They Grown’ by Sophie Hannah. A good mystery/thriller that was recommended to me by one of my Y10 students. It’s always exciting when somewhere you know is mentioned in a book – even if it’s only Peterborough.

The book I wish I had written…

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – an easy answer. I remember teaching extracts of the novel when I was training at Stanground, and I love the way it’s had a ‘revival’ with the TV series and sparked a lot of interesting political debate. I actually dressed up as Offred for a Hallowe’en party last year, but hardly anybody knew who I was meant to be. One guess was Goody Proctor from ‘The Crucible’ … at least it was a literary guess, I suppose.

The book that saved me…

I suppose you could say that ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’ saved me from ignorance, at the time (over 20 years ago). I remember it being a book that revealed a very different world to the pleasant, white, middle-class one that I had lived in for 20 years. Just thinking about its effect on me all those years ago strikes a chord today, with the Black Lives Matter protests and George Floyd’s death being in the news.

The book I couldn’t finish…

I always finish books, even if I skim read some sections just to get through them, but I do remember finding it really hard to finish ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. It’s the only book I’ve ever read where I turned to the last page because I needed to know that there was a glimmer of hope at the end; it was the only thing that kept me going. I know it’s dystopian, but it is so bleak! Definitely not a recommendation for bedtime reading.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…

I remember being ashamed and embarrassed that I hadn’t read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ when I first went into teaching, so I made myself read it. I still feel guilty admitting that I don’t enjoy Jane Austen. Sorry!

My favourite film…

When I was in my twenties, I went through a real phase of being obsessed with Tarantino films so ‘Pulp Fiction’ has got to be one of my all-time favourites. Django was pretty good too … and From Dusk Till Dawn … I’m really not good with favourites!

My favourite TV series…

Finding Bigfoot and Expedition Bigfoot – see number 14.

My favourite piece of music…

Elgar’s Cello Concerto. It’s the old cellist in me!

The last TV programme that made me cry…

Ricky Gervais’ ‘After Life’ had me sobbing for hours. I think Gervais is amazing: his ability to make me laugh until I hurt one minute, then cry uncontrollably the next, is very powerful.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure…

Any podcasts, TV programmes or documentaries about Sasquatch/Bigfoot. I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of such a creature, but also fascinated by the people who dedicate their lives to proving that it exists. I might be a ‘believer’, but I’m not yet a ‘knower’.

If I could own one painting…

The Soul of the Rose by John William Waterhouse. I can’t take my eyes off the woman’s hands; they are so real. I discovered Pre-Raphaelite paintings when I started reading around Christina Rossetti many years ago. I would quite happily own any Pre-Raphaelite painting.

The instrument I wish I’d learnt…

The bassoon. I’d already got a piano and a cello though, so the answer was ‘no’.

The music that cheers me up…

at the moment, Dua Lipa’s new album ’Future Nostalgia’ has got me tapping my toes. Unfortunately, it’ll always remind of the pandemic now.

The place I feel happiest…

I’ve been very fortunate and have visited some wonderful places, but sometimes it’s the simple things in life: at home with some good food and good company; I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

The play I walked out of…

I’ve never walked out of a play; I just couldn’t do it. I’ve never even walked out of a film at the cinema.

I wasted an evening…

trying to cook a pizza on a BBQ recently. Bought the pizza stone, made the dough, made the tomato sauce. Disaster.

Underrated…

Peace and quiet.

Overrated…

Football.

 

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

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