‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr T Cheatley
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!
Today’s entry comes from Mr T Cheatley, Teacher of History and Politics at Stamford School.
The box set I’m hooked on…
Chernobyl. Whilst most of your admiration has to be for those who made the ultimate sacrifice to save Europe from unimaginable catastrophe, you also have to admire the sheer determination of the Russians to deny responsibility and disseminate so much ridiculous disinformation. At least the Russians have learnt from their mistakes though…
My favourite play…
Macbeth. However, I still think the soliloquy performed by my old English teacher, Mr Askham, was better than Greg Hicks’ stunning performance. Talk about teachers who changed your life… “Is this a dagger I see before me…”
My favourite author or book…
The books I appreciate the most are the ones I can discuss over a pint with my mate, Olley Cattell, who knows absolutely nothing about History, but asks all the right questions. Trying to explain the meaning of Animal Farm to a bloke who does not know who Lenin and Stalin were, is comical and challenging. But hearing about how much a 32-year-old appreciates a book about a load of animals that can talk is fantastic. He cried when Boxer got sent to the glue factory.
The book I’m reading…
UK Government and Politics, by Philip Lynch, Fifth Edition. Great book. Great subject.
The book I wish I had written…
Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. 1,000 pages about a stonemason building a cathedral in the 12th Century with the first 100 pages devoted to the theft of a pig and the devastating implications this had for a family. Wow.
The book that saved me…
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas (or ‘Alexander Dumbass’ as it is pronounced in The Shawshank Redemption). Every now and then a book will change your life. I read this at a particularly challenging time. When I was in a panic, it taught me to be patient. When I was distressed, it gave me perspective. And when I was lost, it helped me to find myself again. “Never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope’.”
The book I couldn’t finish…
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Didn’t get it.
The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. My father’s favourite book. I’m saving it.
My favourite film…
Scent of a Woman, starring Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell. Two lost souls brought together at exactly the right time to save each other. “There is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that”. Pacino’s speech at the end of the film is the sole reason I read Law at University (a mistake in hindsight – do not make life decisions based on a film, even if it did win an Oscar!)
The place I feel happiest…
Wherever my wife is. Or Alaska. Tough decision.
My favourite TV series…
The Office (obviously the English version – not that American rubbish). Massively underrated as the greatest love story ever told. Forget about Romeo and Juliet. I remember it was Christmas Eve, 2003. My heart had bled for Tim for 14 episodes. I was furious with Ricky Gervais. And then that final scene… “Never Give Up”. A complete masterpiece of utter perfection.
My favourite piece of music…
‘I Vow To Thee My Country’, sang at Churchill’s funeral. A genius who stood alone in the face of pure evil or evil himself? Or simply a product of his environment and generation, as we too will be judged in time? Every human is fallible, but did his successes outweigh his atrocities? Surely, we all have light and darkness inside us and the people we appoint as heroes, we do so on the understanding that all heroes are essentially flawed? Maybe I will write a book one day…
If I could own one painting…
Monet’s Lily Garden. My wife and I visited Giverny and strolled through the actual lily garden on our first ever holiday together. I was intrigued at the close friendship Monet had with Georges Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister during WW1. In a cruel twist of fate, Clemenceau arrived just seconds too late to bid farewell to his dear friend when Monet died in 1926. What was by the bedside? The lily garden. Monet’s last gift to his best friend.
The music that cheers me up…
The film/play I walked out of…
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I was 13 years old. Personally, I feel that the films are an insult to the imagination of billions of people and that a crime was committed when the films came out. I appreciate different forms of Art and that many people enjoy the films. And I’ve got a lot of time for Alan Rickman, but only as Hans Gruber unfortunately. For me, the films were atrocious. My childhood imagination was ruined beyond repair.
I’m having a fantasy dinner party. I’ll invite these artists and authors…
I’m changing the question quite significantly and completely ignoring the fact that this is a cultural questionnaire. Sorry – but I am a History teacher. Controversially, I’d have to invite Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, just to try and decide who was the most psychopathic. None of them would be offered food or refreshments and would be asked to leave after 10 minutes. Then the actual dinner party would take place with Muhammed Ali, William Howard Taft, Emmeline Pankhurst, Boudica, Alfred the Great, Churchill, Joan of Arc, and whoever is in the grave sites across the world of ‘The Unknown Soldier’ commemorating those whose bodies were never identified from WW1. I would, of course, refrain from asking the names of the Unknown Soldiers. I would just like to hear their stories.
And I’ll put on this music…
Reading a book with a cup of tea and three bourbon biscuits
Read all of our ‘My Cultural Life’ entries here.
- Chapel Service
- Music Department Make Waves
- ‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr J Youngs
- Old Stamfordian Fundraises for The Fire Fighters Charity
- ‘My Cultural Life’ – Mr S Hyams
- Success in Science for SHS Team
- 'My Cultural Life' Project
- Arts & Culture
- Cross Country
- House Events
- Modern Foreign Languages
- Music News
- Sixth Form
- Stamford High School
- Stamford Junior School
- Stamford School
- Trips and Events