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‘My Cultural Life’ – Amy Evans

‘My Cultural Life’ – Amy Evans

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 from the Class of 2020 is provided by Amy Evans, Year 13:

 

The box set I’m hooked on…

Having just finished ‘Workin’ Moms’ on Netflix, I can confidently say that, out of the hundreds of boxsets I’ve managed to get through in these past nine weeks, it was the only one which truly left me hooked. Humour, scandal and tears aside, not only is this series incredible captivating for all the wrong reasons, it features a female role model like no other: Kate Fisher who manages to juggle motherhood with a full-time career in business management and later the opening of her own firm. It is extremely rare to find women such as this in recent media, although they are rightfully becoming more common. I think that’s why I adore this show so much; Catherine Reitman’s female characters enjoy all the perks of life – becoming successful in their place of work, getting married, starting a family – yet never have to sacrifice any of these in the place of another; Reitman creates these perfectly imperfect characters who unexpectedly have it all, turning what appears to be a comedy at first glance into an extremely clever and topical series.

My favourite play…

I absolutely adore crime fiction novels and in particular, of course, Agatha Christie. Naturally, my favourite plays tend to be any of hers as they combine my love of theatre and my love of fiction into one. If I were to narrow down my selection of favourites they would be as follows: ‘Love From a Stranger’ as this was the first of her plays I was lucky enough to see and for its ‘twist-that-is-not-quite-a-twist’ at the end; and ‘The Mousetrap’ as this was my boyfriend Alex’s first experience of the West End. Its narrative is intoxicating. I think it’s those typical Agatha Christie twists at the very end of both her books and plays which make them my all-time favourites.

My favourite author or book…

I suppose I’ve already answered my favourite author above so I will have to go for my favourite book: ‘Trust in Me’ by Sophie McKenzie. I bought this book whilst I was in the Lake District with my friend Gabby almost five years ago now and it never fails to shock me with its twists and turns.

Protagonist Livy is certain that Julia did not do what she is supposed to have done. She sets out to prove her friend innocent and, in the process, uncovers dark secrets that have remained buried for over twelve years since the murder of her sister Kara.

Above all else, this book is incredibly dark and unsettling yet captivating at the same time. I would highly recommend it.

The book I’m reading…

I have only just finished reading ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie which I absolutely adored. There is something about 1930s crime fiction which is incredible intoxicating; the final ‘whodunnit’ moment comes as a shock in itself, but nothing could prepare a reader for the novel’s ending.

The book I wish I had written…

Whilst I can’t necessarily pick a singular book, I am truly in awe of the talent of Cassandra Claire and any fantasy or dystopian author. I think it takes incredible skill to create an alternate universe which still rings true and draws in an audience. In the case of Cassandra Claire, I remain completely awestruck by the complexity of her fictional world that has allowed her to create over twenty incredibly successful books.

The book that saved me…

I always find comfort in musical theatre – I have watched, listened to and been in more musicals than I could begin to count. However, when I experienced very low moods during my last year in Sixth Form, I really struggled to bring myself to do anything. ‘Anything’ including listening to the music which had once been my source of comfort. So, instead, I read a lot as this was almost escapism from my own thoughts. For my birthday that year, my parents brought me ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, not tickets to see the musical but the book which I didn’t know existed. I must have read this in a matter of hours on that very day and it really made me realise that, no matter how bad things may get, every emotion and feeling is temporary and we are ultimately in control of how we perceive the world.

Once lockdown eases and the West End reopens, Alex has bought us tickets to see ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ at the Noël Coward Theatre in London. I can almost say for certain that tears will be shed!

The book I couldn’t finish…

I don’t think I have ever not been able to finish a book but there are definitely novels which I wish I had put down before the end!

Only Ever Yours’ by Louise O’Neill, as recommended by Miss McCullough, absolutely broke me in the best of ways. Not only is this book perversely shocking and dark, but its scariest quality is also that it is not so separate from our own reality. Our individual and global focus on the female body is toxic and O’Neill exposes this toxicity in her dystopian universe. As much as you will want to, you cannot put this book down.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…

I don’t think I could say I’m ashamed of anything I haven’t read but perhaps I haven’t read as many classics as you would expect of an English student!

My favourite film…

This changes for me all the time! But whenever I’m feeling a little tired or just ready to snuggle up in bed, I always love to rewatch any of the romantic comedies I love. Last night I ended up putting on ‘Just Go With It’ with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler. The pair get caught up in an elaborate lie which takes them to Hawaii in order to ensure that Danny – Adam Sandler – ends up with the girl of his dreams; however, nothing quite goes to plan! It’s a feel-good film which is definitely worth a watch.

My favourite piece of music…

I think it is going to be expected of me that my answer to this question is some sort of cultural masterpiece, but if I’m entirely honest with you Beethoven and Mozart aren’t exactly my first point of call. The music which I particularly love is when my dad is upstairs listening to 1970s classics on his record player and they trickle down into the kitchen. Naturally, I do have my own music which I love to listen to through my headphones, but nothing seems to be as exciting or as soothing as this. And when he has the music playing in the kitchen, it is even better as it reminds me of Christmas and birthdays so it always feels very special.

The last TV programme that made me cry…

We’re in quarantine; absolutely anything that is even slightly emotional is making me cry!

My guiltiest cultural pleasure…

I’m not exactly sure you could call this cultural but my mum and I have started watching ‘Four in a Bed’ in the evenings to pass a little time and, I won’t lie to you, I’ve definitely started to enjoy it. There’s something strangely intoxicating about four pairs of complete strangers bickering about whose – usually, poor-quality – B&B deserves to come out on top. Plus, the extra time spent with family makes it just that little bit sweeter.

The instrument I wish I’d learnt…

I’m always incredibly jealous of anyone who is able to play the piano, so I think I’d have to say that. Alex’s family are particularly musically gifted; his mum is Grade 8 piano which never fails to impress me and his little brother, Angus, is currently learning both the piano and the guitar. I am constantly in awe of anyone with even a little musical ability; I attempted to learn the clarinet when I was younger but didn’t manage to get very far!

The place I feel happiest…

Either at home or in my Grandparent’s garden! I am always at my happiest surrounded by my family.

 

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

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