A morning at our busy pre-prep, an evening with the Middle East Society

Small children are great levellers and Monday’s walk through the Dunannie playground is no exception – such little people are so single-mindedly busy, with their trikes and trailers and bricks: bricks are all the rage now – proper big brick-coloured ones with holes in them. After my weekly catch-up session with Jo Webbern, we go and have a good look at the furiously productive activity: small squads of Dun-brickies are busily engaged in making different kinds of brick walls; sand is sloshing all over the place; boys are a bit more feisty in their discussion as to how the sand mixes; girls’ brick walls a bit neater. Happily the bricks are sensibly plastic. My speciality was the mud pie – I hope that mud pies still flourish somewhere, but I suspect there are fewer made nowadays. Such a constructive day which ends very differently, with an event less frenetic and a bit more cerebral – as the Middle East Society meets at my house. Nikhil S-S is this year’s secretary, taking over from the inaugural student boss, last year’s deputy head girl (our only Arabic speaker), Sarah Q. Nikhil leads our meeting with a well informed and suitably provocative talk on Syria, questioning the non-intervention of the West in that luckless and sad country. Encouraging how much quite informed interest there is amongst the attendees in this vexed area of the world. Discouraging, of course, that the Middle East is always giving us plenty to talk about. As one of the few contributors to Syria’s short-lived tourist boom I tell the story of seeing (in July 09) the cannon holes in the roof of the Damascus souk – the result of the French attempt to bring their unruly colony to heel in the 30s – and, I suspect, unlikely to be repeated. 

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools