Saturday, 24 March 2012

Richard Ashcroft and me...

You remember him - the guy from The Verve? Well not only did I go to the same sixth form college as him (several years later, I hasten to add...) but his step-dad, a guy called Doug Ashcroft, was my high school English teacher. I loved Dougie. He was one of those inspirational teachers who broke all the rules but still managed to stuff you so full of courage and imagination that it really didn't matter that your GCSE coursework was done in a bit of a rush at the end of the year because, well, you'd been busy with other things. And set books? Ha! What were they? 

He was a bit like this guy...


(No books were hurt in the production of this film.. honest, guv!)

Dougie taught us to think for ourselves. To argue and debate. He taught us that not all great literature was written by dead men and women, but that we ourselves were capable of creating beauty. He might not have taught us to spell or the rules of grammar but he inspired us. He drummed into us that the world was big place and that in our imaginations we are all free.

Mr Ashcroft left school rather suddenly because of change in family circumstance and I have always regretted that our relationship ended mid-conversation (quite literally!) But in the strangest of ways, my old high school English teacher is still inspiring me even now. In interviews, Richard Ashcroft has said what a big influence his step-dad had on his life and music, and it was The Verve's song Sonnet that I played on repeat when I was writing Dead Jealous. In fact the song is mentioned in the text twice! (Yeah, I know. you're not supposed to do that. But what can you do? It was all Dougie's fault, he taught me no respect for the rules...)

Anyway, hurray for fabulous teachers who break all the rules! And here's a little something for your listening pleasure...