About Me

The Books

  • My favourite comfort read is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. This undoubtedly makes me sound odd, given that it’s a book about murder and conspiracy, but I love the evocation of that particular world.
  • I usually have a large stack of non-fiction by my bed. Currently, the stack includes Grayson Perry’s The Descent of Man, Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia and Robert MacFarlane’s The Wild Places. I can easily have several non-fiction books on the go at the same time and switch from one to the other, depending on my mood.
  • I’ve always enjoyed travel writing. I’ve recently read John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, which offers an insight into the great man in his twilight years. I’m also reading Paul Theroux’s Deep South, which is characteristically well-observed.
  • I enjoy twentieth-century American poetry, especially Robert Lowell, William Stafford and Hart Crane.

The Culture

  • I enjoy listening to folk music, jazz, ambient electronica and indie, as well as guitar-based music from the 1990s. I can’t get enough of Lord Huron right now.
  • Give me a Wes Anderson film any day. The Royal Tenenbaums is my favourite.
  • Time for television is limited so I have to be selective with what I watch, although I keep a list of recommendations from people which I’ll hopefully have time to get through at some point in the future. I loved Stranger Things and as of yet, it shows no signs of jumping the shark, which is promising.

The Spare Time

  • I play guitar and sing a little in York-based traditional folk trio Steam Pigeon. We play music that traces the early transatlantic influences that led to the blues, country, jazz and rock and roll.
  • I love hiking in the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. I enjoy camping trips to the Lake District with my family.
  • York has always been a great city for pubs and continues to be a beacon for craft beer. I avail myself of the opportunity to sample these beers whenever I can.

The Teaching

  • I’ve spent most of my career at Boroughbridge High School in North Yorkshire, where opportunities for professional growth have been abundant. Having begun as a teacher of English, I began leading Media Studies and then served as Acting Second in English. I spent several years as Head of KS4 English before becoming Head of Department in 2014.
  • I enjoy blogging and writing about teaching English, writing and the written word. I’d love to do much more of this in the next phase of my career. It was a privilege to be asked to lead a session based around my work with film and creative writing at the 2019 NATE conference. This was such a brilliant event to attend: amazingly generous people, inspirational keynote speakers and extremely useful workshops.
  • Through the years, I’ve been blessed with some amazing colleagues and great students at Boroughbridge. Like in all schools, I’m sure, there’s been some ups and downs, but it really is a special place to work.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash