One of the many things that John is passionate about is the need to support Perth’s raft of excellent local traders because they offer us such quality and diversity. John is immensely proud of Perth Film Society’s record of gaining sponsorship from and helping to promote so many local firms, be they established or young.
John has completed 37 years and some 111 terms teaching Classics, Ancient History and Italian at Glenalmond, where he was also a senior housemaster and the 5th longest serving master in college history! He has a (not very) secret crush on the French actress Marion Cotillard, and pupils using the ‘Rate My Teacher’ website had awarded him a massive 4.81 out of 5 scores, with comments such as “probably the best teacher I have ever had”, “the most fair-minded and decent member of staff”, and “unrivalled in his abilities as an after-dinner speaker”. High praise indeed!
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A typical day used to be all about teaching, but now it’s more about having more quality time to spend enjoying my family and grandchildren. It’s also having more time to indulge my film habit by trying to see as many screenings as possible, perhaps even scoring 2 or 3 per week. The DCA is a favourite venue, but so too is the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle. Having opened its doors in 1937, it now ranks as the last surviving news theatre still operating today. Otherwise, of an evening, I really enjoy the top quality culture that Perth either offers on our doorstep, or is well-placed for easy access. I’m especially looking forward to the newly refurbished theatre opening and can’t wait to see round, and to finding out what’s on the programme.
It doesn’t really feel like work, but a typical day is now about Perth Film Society too. I’ve been a volunteer Chair for the last 8 years, but my involvement has grown gradually since a few years before that. Our aim is to give as many people as possible access to non-mainstream films that larger cinemas often don’t show and, in doing so, we’ve forged strong links with community projects and organisations, such as Perth 800, Awareness of Mental Health, Amnesty International, International Women’s Day, as well as various language clubs. I’m hugely proud of that achievement, but we’re keen to attract more !
The Society’s films are screened in a casual, friendly atmosphere with everyone being welcome. We moved to our current home in Horsecross in 2006, so next year will be the 12th anniversary. During that time we’ve screened comedies, thrillers, animation, adventures, and films about musicians, from across Europe and Scandinavia, as well as farther afield, including Cuba, Russia, Palestine, India, Iran, and South America. Being part of the Horsecross family is undoubtedly now the best place for the Society to be. We’ve had such help and support from all of the amazing team there, so much so that audience numbers have quadrupled and many of our 14 regular screenings each year are sold out well in advance, attracting a full-house maximum of 100 people. We’ve enjoyed a record three sell-outs already this Season.
What signals the start of your weekend/days off?
One of the regular Film Society screenings of course and probably a welcome glass of Chianti or on a special occasion Barolo!
What might people be surprised to know about you?
Before Glenalmond, I lived and taught at St. Stephen’s international school in Rome, as well as at Brooks School, Massachusetts, which is one of the leading independent schools in New England. My Chris Evans style ‘Top Tenuous’ claims to fame from my USA days include that Brooks School is near where parts of the recent “Manchester by the Sea” was filmed and that I taught the boyfriend of the first victim in “Jaws” (character name Chrissie Watkins for the anoraks out there !). I’ve kept up links with each of these schools over the years and I still have a deep love of all things Italian. Maybe that’s why the Film Society’s regular Italian film night is always one of my favourites.
Perhaps the most surprising though is that I’m a passionate St Johnstone supporter and I’ve been outed as Stuart Cosgrove’s ‘Posh John’ or “Glenalmond John”. When I first brought Glenalmond pupils to McDiarmid I was accused by some of punishing the kids. I had the last laugh though when I took two bus-loads to our Cup Final victory. In actual fact, I’m an East London and Essex boy, so I’m not in the least bit posh! Well educated and polite, perhaps, but posh? Hardly!
Top of your bucket list?
I’d really love to take my wife Maureen to the Italian Lakes, in particular to Sirmione on the south shore of Lake Garda and, closer to home, we hope to visit Cornwall. A revisit to favourite haunts in the Boston and Cape Cod area, as well as New York, may be a possibility. South America holds a huge fascination too. I’ve seen so many lovely films from that part of the world but have just never managed to go beyond Mexico.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
Without hesitation, it was, as a schoolboy, plucking pheasants while working for a local butcher (careful with that one!)
Who or what inspires you?
In general, I’m inspired by real and meaningful conversation, as well as by people who display courage in the face of adversity and who don’t complain. As a regular at St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth, religious faith is important to me, especially when the going gets tough in life. The beautiful countryside, such as we enjoy around Perthshire is another inspiration - what could be more uplifting than our sumptuous annual display of autumn colours ! For me, it is so reminiscent of Massachusetts.
More specifically, I’m inspired by my wife, Maureen who is always so patient and supportive. I’m also a near obsessive fan of William Gladstone. In addition to being a Liberal politician, MP for Midlothian, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister, (no fewer than four times) he was one of the founders of Glenalmond College. I’ve gained much inspiration from his life and speeches and took great delight in festooning his statue with St Johnstone colours when we won the Scottish Cup, oldest and proudest trophy, of course, in World Football.
Tell us about the weekend you’d love to live again?
Without doubt, this would be to repeat my first weekend of retirement in St. Andrews where I was joined my three daughters, sons in law and grandchildren. The entire family of 11 made a “dream team” for a very special reunion.
What’s the perfect day off breakfast?
Without doubt, my best breakfast would be juice made from Sicilian blood oranges, Greek goats’ milk yoghurt, Bean Shop coffee, and baking from Sub Rosa !
Complete this sentence; The best things in life are….
Creativity runs through everything Nadine Sabbagh does, both inside and outwith the classroom.
November 18th Sunday 2018
By day, Paul Sharkey is a branch manager of Marks & Spencer. Off the clock, he is a long-standing volunteer and member of Perth Strathear
November 11th Sunday 2018
This we catch up with Wake Up With Webster Tay FM host Stuart Webster and find out what he does when he's not in the radio station.
November 4th Sunday 2018