Archaeologist specialising in Roman and Greek Classical Periods, first class cricketer, semi-professional rugby player, Formula 3 racing car driver, adventurer/ explorer and writer... are all things I wish, at various times, I had been.
Sadly, the truth is a little different (except the last). I am an unashamed Ancient History and languages nerd and took degrees in Classics and then Management Studies at Downing College, Cambridge. Following various short-lived careers in legal publishing, as a head-hunter, sports writer, prep school teacher and fitness coach, I joined the Metropolitan Police Service, retiring as an acting Inspector after a decade to take up a post as Head of Classics at Ashville College in Harrogate.
I rowed on the reconstructed ancient Greek trireme 'Olympias' in sea trials in and around the island of Poros in 1994 and look forwards to the day when another project like that reaches fruition, and only hope I'm not too creaky by then to ply an oar. I have since subjected my students to trialling a mock-up cross-section of the trireme (needed work) as well as tasting some authentic Spartan 'black broth' (tasty but bad heartburn afterwards) in lectures aimed at bringing the ancient past to life.
Broadening the appeal of Classics
Classics as an academic subject has had a bad press lately. Even the name, so some commentators believe, needs to be changed ('Mediterranean Studies' seems popular) because of its elitist - even imperialistic - overtones. Well, I don't know about that. I come from a working class background in Manchester and am very grateful for the opportunities it has provided me. I am a passionate advocate for the subject being taught in all schools. Its sheer breadth and depth means that there will always be something to fire the imagination of any young student; to enhance our understanding of ourselves and our society by comparison to Greece or Rome or, for that matter, Egypt or Persia or Carthage.
I have been very proud to help, in a small way, a number of students from state schools secure places at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge these past few years and I hope to be able to continue to do so. I would be very happy to connect with anyone seeking advice - or reassurance - about studying the ancient world.