KNOW YOUR HURTWOOD: An Interview with Dave Fonseka

Welcome, welcome, welcome, to the first interview of the year for ‘Know Your Hurtwood’! Over the next few months, every week we will ask one staff member and one student to ‘tell-all’ (things trivial and thought-provoking!) in some quick-fire interview rounds!

Do you fancy getting involved? Want to be interviewed? Want to nominate a staff member or friend for an interview? Have some questions you’re just dying to ask? Send them over, ( or and we will try and include them in our next interview!

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Fonseka… find out what he had to say below…

What has been your best and worst memory of Hurtwood?

The best has definitely been the gig of glory, and I think probably the first gig of glory that we ever did was just amazing, really doing what I wanted to do and what the students wanted to do. And the sort of music they were into and I was into and it was just such a buzz of a show that everybody said, ‘please do it again!’, and I thought, ‘I don’t know, it’s such a lot of time’ but I’ve done it again and I can’t remember what number we’re on now and it’s just such a wonderful experience, yeah, that’s definitely the best.
The worst, well, 18 years back I was invited to play a guitar solo on a song for the Hurtwood concert.  It was a blues piece and I was keen to impress as it was quite an honor.  I practiced and practiced and made it perfect.  Anyway on the first public performance (my wife and her parents were in the audience) the spotlight came on me and I performed the solo – it was only short but halfway in I realised that my guitar was not making any sound – I had forgotten to plug the other end of the lead into the amp – totally my fault.  But I carried on and tried not to give it away but inside felt absolutely sick!  Funny thing is that people in the interval came up to me and said – that was a great bit of guitar playing, Dave!  Learnt a lot from this – always check your rig and remember that the audience is fickle!

Favourite TV series?

Doctor Who.

Lifetime ambition?

Oh, um… to climb Mount Everest, but I don’t think it’s going to happen!

Quirkiest character trait?

Oh my gosh, erm, I’m not particularly social. I may seem it but I’m actually not a party guy, I’m not as outgoing as I might appear to be.

Cadbury’s or Galaxy?

Cadbury’s, Dairy milk is at the top.

The dream day out?

Probably, erm, to go to a big rock gig, something like ACDC or if Jimmy Page was playing again, or something like that, and I could actually spend the day with the crew, sound checking, having a go on the guitars and just chatting to the guys, and just chilling out and being part of the band and the crew, that would just be amazing. I did do that with Status Quo some years ago, a student invited me to do just that, and that was such an amazing day!

What are you most looking forward to about the new year?

Well, it’s a time of change, just getting fit again and looking forward to the summer holidays, getting out into the wilderness, and doing our thing as a family. Our middle son is doing his GCSE’s, and our youngest daughter is hot on his heels, so it’s going to be a busy family time, a lot to look forward to!

Who do you admire most, why?

There are so many people that I aspire to be even 1/10th of, that would be wonderful. I think Alexander the Great actually, in a weird way. I think the reason why is although he was quite ruthless in many, many ways when he conquered a country, he always gave it back to the people to govern, and he allowed that autonomy and that was, I think, part of his success. I think he was a remarkable man, who, there is a lot said about him which is negative, and I appreciate that, but what he managed to do in that ancient world, I just think is… the organization, the drive, the ambition, the drive, the kudos, I think is a remarkable thing in history. I wouldn’t want to be him. But I think some of the things that he said are very, very thought-provoking.

Apple or Samsung?

I’m not a phone person, so that’s a bad one for me, I have no idea. I do like apples but I prefer oranges, you know, especially this time of year, lovely.

What scares you the most?

Spiders. Ugh. Absolutely. Can’t get rid of it, tried everything. Tried hypnosis even. I do travel widely, as you know, to Africa and deserts, and all manner of places, and it scares me but my wife is brilliant, she’ll see something, she won’t tell me, she’ll get it out the tent, she won’t even tell me. She’s amazing.

If you were to have a seat in Parliament tomorrow, what would be the first issue you raised?

Erm, I think there are two big issues, one is the environment, because I just don’t think we ever do enough, we always say we’re going to do something. But I think inequality, and I think there’s a massive inequality in this country, a huge inequality, and it worries me, and I mean across all spectrums. Not just wealth or gender, erm, but including those issues, but I think equality is something I’d like to see, and genuine equality, not just a token gesture, you know?

Do you have any horrific parent stories you can share with us or are they all hidden in files under the classified heading?

They are absolutely classified. But my parents, this may not come as a shock, were very, very strict. Very strict. Erm, I can’t think of anything that springs to mind. Here, I’ve had, on occasion, some incredible conversations with parents that you would not believe, you really wouldn’t, but then you’d think it must be true because you just couldn’t write it, unfortunately, all those stories are confined to confidentiality. Luckily such exchanges are rare and pretty well all parents are lovely and absolutely fine.

Letters or texts?

Oh, letters. Yep.

If you had an eight-hour flight to take, what books would you bring with you for the journey?

I would take more David Gemmell books because I love David Gemmell, I think. He’s a science fiction/ fantasy writer, he’s died unfortunately but his books just while away the time for me.

It’s New Year’s Eve, what drink do you toast the New Year with?

Erm, well, generally speaking, I’ve been very lucky, and we’ve enjoyed a very happy life, so thanks for that and more the same for the following year. It will be whatever is to hand, I mean when I think when I was a student it would have been, you know, an ale, but I think a little bit more, more sophisticated now, shall we say!

Town, Rural or coast?

Oh coast, love the sea.

What poem/s has touched you deeply?

Yeah, ‘Daffodils’ Wordsworth, I just love that line, “For oft, when on my couch I lie/ In vacant or in pensive mood,/ They flash upon that inward eye/ Which is the bliss of solitude;”

You’re cooking Italian, what dish would you make?

Oh, spag bol! Absolutely! Definitely!

Do you live by advice, instinct or a bit of both?

Both, but probably more instinct. I react. Yeah, I react to situations, and I move quickly and I always have done. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know.

What would you want your legacy to be?

Yeah, I mean, it’s difficult. There’s always that cliche, you know, to have made a difference, but I think, you know, I always say that to try and live by what you say and try and practice what you preach, is the greatest challenge I think we all face, and I think that’s what I call integrity. And it’s really hard, it’s just as hard for me as it is for anyone else, but, to be known for integrity would be a wonderful attribute. That would be something to aspire to, and I don’t think I’m there yet. I’ll have to work to it.

Do you enjoy being a deputy head teacher more than working for Amex?

Er, yes. I hated working for Amex. It just wasn’t me. That’s in an office all day, looking at boring figures and talking to boring people, I absolutely hated it.

How long did you do it?

Oh, it was just a work placement for my degree, I hated it.

You’ve told me before you’ve been inter-railing, what was the most memorable place you visited, why?

Yes! Er, Venice, just love Venice. Beautiful. Just amazing, breath-taking. As a young man, as it were, just to suddenly go into a city like that, and see it for the first time, with the freedom of a rucksack and just not kind of knowing where you’re going to stay, or what you are going to say, just incredible!





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