A bundle of virtues and vices

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“Pig – let me speak his praise – is no less provocative of the appetite, than he is satisfactory to the criticalness of the censorious palate. The strong man may batten on him, and the weakling refuseth not his mild juices. Unlike to mankind’s mixed characters, a bundle of virtues and vices, inexplicably intertwisted, and not to be unravelled without hazard, he is – good throughout. No part of him is better or worse than another. He helpeth, as far as his little means extend, all around. He is the least envious of banquets. He is all neighbours’ fare.”

Once you have read Charles Lamb’s A Dissertation upon Roast Pig it is difficult to munch a roast pork sandwich without thinking of that sad genius and his brilliant essay, which crackles with his own delight in the various cooked manifestations of said roasted beast – all neighbours’ fare.

My roast pork sandwich is delicious, definitely good throughout. It is modest in size, leaving room for my plate to be packed with portions of vegetables – two types of beetroot (one simply chopped and another in a sauce), some salad potatoes, some ordinary boiled potatoes, some lettuce and a sweetish piece of onion; and yes, apple sauce. The noteworthy feature of this healthy, homely but delicious platter is that it has all been produced by my hosts – the Block 3s – who have in their tutor groups, under the sway of their Badley tutors and the benign presence of the 6.2s assigned to each group (Badley Seniors), grown and bred this fare. My paper plate sags, especially when a passing pair of Block 3s add a scone with jam and cream on it. (Yes, I know the cream is imported…)

The scene is the grassy outdoor Sotherington theatre, sculpted by 6.2s a few years back and a good suntrap spot for an outdoor gathering.

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Block 3 parents are there; off in the corner is the delicious but diminishing pig too, looking sadder and sadder in his roaster, but still smelling good and tempting us all to return for more. The meal is the product of each group’s project, which was quite simply to grow the food for it.

The earlier part of the day has entailed each student in the tutor group telling the assembled parents about their individual projects – so one has made a poker, with a classy stand, in the school’s forge; another has done a cycling expedition and written about it; and another has got smitten by Arthur Miller and The Crucible in particular. The project is a preparation for the independent work habits that we expect with the Bedales Assessed Courses in the following two years, but also an age-appropriate version of the Extended Project which many of our 6.1s will do.

Some of the Badley Seniors are there too. They have been an integral part of this Block 3 experience, acting as older brother/sister figures to those youngsters who are navigating their way through their first year at Bedales. Leadership roles that are based on mentoring seem to work well here – as well as mirroring a contemporary belief that leadership is more about influence than conspicuous exercise of authority. It is great to see these mixed characters, enjoying the intermittent sunshine and this genial spot in time and in a student’s Bedales journey.

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