Culture vulture

Elaine Williams

Mark Squires finds a quote for every occasion in Withnail and I

Best book ever

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, a sprawling saga of four families set in post-colonial India. I love the richness of the characters: you feel you know them personally; that you are really close to their lives.

Best film ever

Withnail and I (director Bruce Robinson), in which Richard E Grant and Paul McGann (pictured) escape to the countryside around Penrith, came out when I was a student and the humour appealed greatly. It still provides quotes for all occasions.

Best inspiration

I've been going out with Bill Birkett when he's been taking pictures in the Langdale valley, and it's been an eye-opener. I've realised the hard graft and the huge amounts of time you need to spend to take fantastic landscape pictures.

Best exhibition

I was driving back from my interview for this job (more than six years ago) and I stopped to see a Bridget Riley exhibition at the Abbot Hall gallery in Kendal. It was mesmerising. I love the way her work draws you in.

Best resource

As the only full-time teacher, I do a lot of assemblies. Sometimes I turn them into a sort of TV game show called Breakfast with Squires. We have the chance to be a bit off-the-wall, dressing up, using props, telling jokes, playing tricks. There's usually a serious message somewhere. In a small school you can be flexible enough to do this.

Something to share

I've been reading Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson (Macmillan) to my sons, aged eight and 11, and I can't wait to share it at school. It gives you such a strong sense of life on the Amazon, and I like the fact that the main character is a headstrong girl but she isn't stroppy.

Mark Squires, 35, is head of the 35-pupil Langdale Church of England primary, Ambleside, which has a strong arts commitment. This term pupils have been taking part in masterclasses with mountaineering photographer and author Bill Birkett. The children's photographs and captions are on show alongside Birkett's work at Kendal library until November 27. Interview by Elaine Williams

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Elaine Williams

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