Meet the Tutors

In order to help you get to know our tutors better, we asked some of them six questions. Over the next few weeks we shall be introducing some of our tutors to you.

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More Tutors Coming Soon

Valerie Weston

1. What do you like about living in Hong Kong?


I love that there is such an interesting variety of things to do here - there’s the city feel, the island feel and of course lots of beautiful and unspoilt countryside. When not teaching you will probably find me reading a book at the beach or exploring Hong Kong one cafe at a time!

2. What subject(s) do you teach & what do you like most about your subject?


I teach Latin and Ancient Greek. I have always loved the logical structure of both languages. Of course, so many words in European languages stem from Latin and Greek and so much literature & philosophical thought can be traced back to the Greeks & Romans. Both languages have been enormously influential.

3. What is your favourite book & why?


The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It’s a great thriller set in the present day against a classical backdrop. Without giving too much away it follows the plot of Euripides’ ‘The Bacchae’.


4. If you could have dinner with a historical figure who would it be & why?
Cicero. He lived at a very interesting political time (in the years preceding the downfall of the Roman republic) and he beat the odds in getting to the top of the political ladder despite his relatively humble beginnings. His writing is very diverse from acerbic legal speeches to the more personal letters & philosophical writings. His Latin is of beautiful quality.

5. If you could only listen to one piece of music for the rest of your life what would it be & why?
Allegri’s ‘Miserere mei, Deus’. It’s such a beautiful setting of Psalm 51.

6. If you were stranded on a desert island what one luxury item would you take with you & why?
A diary (with a pen attached!) so I could record my experience and always have the facility to write something down.

 

 

Charles Johnson

1. Where do you live and why do you like living there?

I am very lucky to live near Oxford. I went both to school and University in the city and love being near the Thames so I walk and (sometimes) run along the tow path.

2. What subject(s) do you teach & what do you like most about your subject?

I studied History (or as it was called then Modern History although our course started in 363AD!) It is sometimes said that we might learn from studying the past: my hunch is that human nature is far more complex. Knowledge of the past can nudge us towards an understanding of the present but only if we understand the nuances. I also teach Politics at A level, and English & Religious Studies for Common Entrance.

3. What is your favourite book & why?

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh. To my mind Waugh’s first novel is his best. It is richly comic with a cast of memorable characters. My favourite is Captain Grimes, the ultimate survivor - perhaps a great superhero in these turbulent Covid19 times.

4. If you could have dinner with a historical figure who would it be and why?

A difficult question for an Historian but having just read Denis Mack Smith’s Biography of Benito Mussolini I think I would like to question him on his reasoning for Italian foreign policy between 1935-1940.

5. If you could only listen to one piece of music for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

No doubt here - Handel’s Verdi Prati from his oratorio Alcina. I have a deep love ofBaroque music - JS Bach, Vivaldi and especially Händel. While there is some debate about whether the human voice might be considered an instrument, to my mind it is the most versatile and melodic of all.

6. If you were stranded on a desert island what one luxury item would you take with you & why?

A really good radio which might be able to pick up the BBC!

 

Michael Edwards

1. Where do you live and why do you like living there?

 

I live south of Oxford although within the next few years I hope to move closer to Surrey where my only son lives. He is 5 miles from Gatwick and, as I am a part-time Travel Writer, it would be very convenient for me to be that close to an airport.

2. What subject(s) do you teach & what do you like most about your subject?

I teach English and Business Studies. As a writer I enjoy teaching pupils how to be more creative and draw the reader into their pieces.

Although Covid - 19 has been traumatic for many, it has been fascinating to study many businesses’ imaginative and rapid response to the changing situation. These innovative examples have provided many illustrations in lessons.

3. What is your favourite book & why?

Moby Dick is a tragedy on a global scale, Captain Ahab is drawn to his inescapable fate by his own excessive ambition. Melville even writes an entire chapter on the whiteness of the whale and its symbolism.

4. If you could have dinner with a prominent figure from the world of [Science / Literature] who would it be & why?

At his school AA Gill took the record for the most detentions ever. He then became homeless in London. Yet, he still became an outstanding food writer for “The Times”, even though his dyslexia meant that he dictated his pieces to a secretary. When he died recently, his loss of insight, wit and mastery of the language was a great loss to journalism.

His scathing review of Starbucks coffee chain is a hilarious piece which I frequently use for comprehension exercises.

Of course, the real advantage of having dinner with Gill is that he would select a restaurant with superlative food and wine.

5. If you could only listen to one piece of music for the rest of your life what would it be & why?

Since 1976, I have repeatedly listened to The Eagles’ album “Hotel California”. It was intended as a “State of the Union” piece to commemorate the American bicentennial.

Glenn Frey said the theme of the album was “the loss of the American Dream”. Ironically, the album cover thanked lawyers who were trying to settle disputes between band members as well as session musicians.

6. If you were stranded on a desert island what one luxury item would you take with you & why?

I would need a laptop, with Wi-fi, as I’m sure that I would still have travel pieces to submit - particularly on the desert island.

 

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