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‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr A Murphy

‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr A Murphy

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.

 

Read about the cultural interests, loves and shortcomings of Senior Deputy Head of Stamford High School, Mr A Murphy

The box set I’m hooked on…

My default viewing choice is any rom com with Hugh Grant in, so funnily enough, I don’t really get a say in our box set watching at home; as such, it tends to be carefully planned out for me by my wife and is usually something quite dark. ‘Ozark’ on Netflix is the flavour of the month and we are into the final season.

My favourite play…

Being from Scotland, it has to be the theatrical adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’. I saw the play at university, then read the book, and then when the film came out I was still impressed. That seldom happens, and it was a pleasure to approach a piece of work in that order!

My favourite author or book…

My favourite book is ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I read it first as a 13 year old and then have re-read it pretty much every 4 or 5 years since then. I’ve gone from identifying as the devil child, to the young adult Witchfinder, to the grumpy old man. I still love it, but did not enjoy the recent televised version at all!

The book I’m reading…

It’s called ‘On Top’ by the comedian Richard Ayoade, where he basically rips apart a Gwyneth Paltrow rom com film (that I watched years ago … and guiltily enjoyed). It’s great escapism. I am also halfway through ‘Homo Deus’, the follow up to ‘Sapiens’; Yuval Noah Harari can really hold an audience.

The book I wish I had written…

I wouldn’t say no to have written the Harry Potter series. Although a member of the Murphy family did write the Worst Witch series!

The book that saved me…

I travelled the world on my gap year with the complete works of Shakespeare in one very small print book – it opened up lots of conversations in lots of different languages, and was a pretty good pillow on 36 hour bus journeys in South America.

The book I couldn’t finish…

‘Don Quixote’ by Cervantes – I have tried so many times…….

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…

‘On the Origin of Species’ by Charles Darwin. As a biologist, that is almost criminal. I do own it – it also was in my backpack on my gap year but didn’t quite offer the escapism of Shakespeare.

My favourite film…

It’s a Wonderful Life. Far and away the best film I have ever watched and I re-watch it two or three times a year. I love that one person, however humble, can impact so positively on numerous people’s lives, but not realise it until it is taken away from them. My family won’t watch it though, as it is in black and white. What Philistines!

My favourite TV series…

I’d have to say Modern Family; I consider myself to be a mix of Phil and Cam, and I chortle away, even if I have seen the episode numerous times.

My favourite piece of music…

Anything by the Divine Comedy. I love that band, and Neil Hannon is a seriously talented lyricist. ‘The Frog Princess’ still makes me smile.

The last TV programme that made me cry…

National anthems at rugby matches set me off every time, no matter who is playing. The intensity, the pride, the pressure, and giants singing proudly about their country – I find it very moving.

The lyric I wish I’d written…

Anything by They Might be Giants – but if I’m pushed, then it would be these lines from a song called ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’:

Not to put too fine a point on it / Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet / Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure…

Eating a full Scottish breakfast, sitting outside a café on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, watching the tourists go by during the world-famous Fringe Festival. I love the chance to just hang out and chat with the up and coming comedians, or to brush shoulders with legends of the circuit. I should say a Scottish breakfast is essentially the same as an English one, but with haggis rather than black pudding, and lots of HP brown sauce.

If I could own one painting…

‘Nighthawks’ by Edward Hopper. I had a poster of it on my wall at university and I would stare at it for hours (rather than study), and think about what the different characters were going through. I would also love a Jack Vettriano original; his style is similar to Hopper’s but with an Edinburgh accent.

The instrument I wish I’d learnt…

The piano: the ability to walk into a bar and just bash out some tunes would be amazing! ‘Fingers’ piano bar in Edinburgh is my favourite place to go – and I would love to hold court on the piano there.

The music that cheers me up…

If I need cheering up then (bizarrely) I put on quite sad music like Portishead or Smokey Robinson.

The place I feel happiest…

Lords cricket ground. There is no better way to spend a day (or five) with a large hamper of wine and nice eats, with the backdrop of a bit of leather on willow.

The film/play I walked out of…

‘Dracula’ with Gary Oldman and Keanu Reeves – it was terrible.

I’m having a fantasy dinner party. I’ll invite these artists and authors…

Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde for the funniest conversation possible, Eddie Izzard to talk about surrealism and his epic marathons, Julia Donaldson to say thank you for making story time with my children such fun, cricket commentator Henry Blofeld for the anecdotes, and Elizabeth Hurley to annoy my wife.

And I’ll put on this music…

I’d have the Duckworth Lewis Method’s two albums on repeat – lots of silly songs about cricket and we’d all sing along.

I wasted an evening…

At the opera, trying to impress a girl and not understanding anything that was going on.

Underrated…

Scotland at everything, but we sneak a win every now and then.

Overrated…

The England rugby team. I can’t stand them singing God Save The Queen (the Commonwealth anthem) and Swing Low (a slave song) – but I did love Johnny Wilkinson at least. That drop goal in the 2003 World Cup Final was pure class and I celebrated hard with my English friends!

 

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

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