All about me - Where are all the baby pigeons?

Chris Firth teaches at Caedmon School in Whitby, North Yorkshire

What's the secret about teaching that the wider world doesn't know?

If you are sincerely nice and respectful to teenagers, the majority are nice and respectful back. Most are decent people.

What do you wish you'd known when you started teaching that you know now?

That simple, honest, positive praise is such a powerful motivator.

What was the best advice you were given?

Get over it. (This too shall pass.)

What's your proudest achievement?

Receiving an Arts Council England writers' award at the Millennium Dome in 2000 for a collection of short stories. Also, winning "Stars in their Eyes" as a comedy Liam Gallagher at the school Children In Need night.

What one thing would change your life for the better?

Money - just enough of it to be able to be creative without any worry.

What is the song of your life?

Definitely "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack.

Who do you most admire?

My wife, Deborah. She saves tiny baby lives every day as a neo-natal nurse at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. Their job makes teaching look easy - and for much less pay, which is shocking.

What's the last book you read and how was it?

Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot. It's an amazing, mammoth-sized graphic novelartefactilluminated manuscript about Sunderland. It's a work of love, dedication and genius. And it reveals how Alice in Wonderland really was all set in Sunderland.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Johnny Depp, though I'm a bit better looking than him so he'd have to get into shape.

Where is your favourite place?

Whitby, North Yorkshire.

Where in the world would you most like to visit?

Zanzibar. And I am going there in the October holidays.

If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be?

William Shakespeare. I'd want to know all about that second-best bed that he infamously left to his wife Anne Hathaway.

Apart from the job, what three things are the most important to you?

My family, my imagination and my double bass.

What's the big question about life that you would most like answered?

Where are all the baby pigeons?

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