Culture vulture

6th January 2006 at 00:00
Gerald Sperling gets his kicks from classic rock and children's fiction

Favourite reading

In the summer I like sitting in the garden with a cappuccino and the latest Janet Evanovich. They're about a New Jersey bail agent called Stephanie Plum and they're sheer entertainment. Last summer I read lots of Alexander McCall Smith's Number One Ladies Detective Agency books. They restored my faith in humanity.

Sneak preview

I've always got a pile of children's books by my bed, mainly because my wife Sharon is a children's library consultant and chaired the Carnegie Medal judges last year. So I get to read books before they're published.

Before Christmas I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (published by David Fickling Books, see review in this week's Teacher magazine). It's an extraordinary book that made me feel increasingly chilled. I also love Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons. It's a marvellous road movie of a book about a girl discovering things about her past. Not many books reduce me to tears, but that did.

Best film

I like films that leave me thoughtful. Broken Flowers with Bill Murray did that recently. Five Easy Pieces and The Graduate both meant a lot to me when they came out, probably because they're about people trying to find themselves.

Treat in store

We're about to see the Samuel Palmer exhibition at the British Museum. I came across Palmer, an English Romantic painter, 25 years ago on the cover of a Sunday magazine. Then I discovered he lived in Kent, not far from me, and he painted these very small, intense landscapes with a spiritual depth, everything bursting with life.

Great rock moments

I've been going to rock concerts all my life: Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Who. My favourite performer is probably Warren Zevon (pictured), who died in 2003, and his best album is Sentimental Hygiene. He was such a great songwriter: funny and inspiring at the same time. Sometimes in headteachers' meetings I sit there thinking, is there anybody else I can talk to about this?

Gerald Sperling is head of Cobham primary school in Kent. The British Museum's Samuel Palmer retrospective runs until January 22

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