What would the the Sage of Hull (Larkin) have thought of all this water? This is just one of the fruitless unanswerable questions that occurs as I hear my footsteps crunching and squelching beside two panting dogs on an early morning stroll across the Estate’s undulations and their accompanying frost pockets, Cobb’s Field being the chilliest, this morning. Here is another hopeless question: will the new quartet of Budge hens survive, given that, unlike their predecessors, they do not recognise the value of shelter, but sit out in the rain with their eyes shut? This would not be a good policy at any stage but in a year when we have had 254% of our usual rainfall it is unwise. I blame these two relatively gloomy thoughts on some early morning reading of Edward Thomas’ short stories, where all the protagonists seem to be variants on himself – moody and gloomy fellows who roam amongst the Hangers, occasionally with an old pistol.
But Spring is clearly on the way, not only because the crocuses and daffodils are coming up in the Orchard or because the 6.1s have done their mocks or because the birdsong is more and more prolific each morning, but also because Moony and I hosted the concluding feast of the academic year last night, entertaining 30 or so Block 4s whose efforts with their last Review were being celebrated. The Feast, a new but now fully enshrined Bedales tradition, was a suggestion of the student Teaching and Learning Group – something that they felt would be a good way of recognising hard work and good progress. We enjoy doing them, but feasting is a winterish activity, even if the mead is an elderflower cordial and the sweetmeats a chocolate brownie; so here comes the Spring and, as the days lengthen, that signals the end of the feasting season.
There are plenty of other things to celebrate too – a packed week: beginning with a Shakespeare Society reading of Antony and Cleopatra on Sunday; moving on to the Sixth Form Maths Society’s Pi Meeting (Monday) when, yes, pies may be served; progressing through Bedales Dance Performs (hot on the springy heels of Sunday’s Dance Platform), the Green Ribbon Club (Thomas Harding discussing his enthralling book, the account of his uncle who arrested Auschwitz’s horrible commandant), the Jaw Debate (University Education should be free?) – answer, “Why of course!” (a little appreciated Larkin quote); then a Philosophy Society meeting and our newly re-formed student Art & Design consultative group meeting with the architects to start discussing the interior of the new Art & Design Centre, whose successful planning permission we will be celebrating on Thursday evening. A busy but not atypical five days.
As for Larkin and water, he would have been fine with it. Water, he wrote about and – in the poem of that name – he reveres: his description of “a furious devout drench” has a new currency after the drenching winter.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales School
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.