Being away can be stimulating; being back always is. Evening events and livestock seem to be the two themes of the last few days.
Take last night’s Global Awareness Jaw. Led by Block 5 reporting back on their visit to Woodstock School, Mussourie, India; it began with an extraordinary piece of music composed by Richie and music teacher Giacomo Pozzuto, with Richie on the tabla* and Giacomo on the oboe. All of the students who went to this remarkable spot, perched on the Himalaya, have a hand in the composition of the presentation and three head it up. Amongst the various memories that will anchor in the young minds watching, I suspect the spell cast by the sight and sound of tabla and oboe – the interplay of East and Western musical traditions – will feature most.
Other evening excitements included Sunday’s Professional Guidance department presentation to 6.1 parents on Higher Education: primarily about university entry, it’s an encouraging picture that we present – not only of some of the most sought after universities being able to offer more places to candidates who gain ABB or above at A Level, but of the increasing proportion of our students gaining places at Russell Group universities. It is the start of the cycle for the new 6.1s. Next week I will give my annual assembly to the school on higher education, as the most important message is the old adage: hard work + passion for your chosen subjects + working closely with your teachers = success; and the earlier that starts, the greater the success – and the more enjoyable the journey.
Tuesday evening and I am entertaining a group of fellow headteachers (collective name possibilities, a swelling of heads or a lakh of principals), initially to a meeting and then to dinner at 50 Church Road. The 86 Group, 20 years old now, comprises 16 schools from across the south east who have enough in common and who enjoy each other’s company enough to meet termly to discuss things of common interest. Trust and humour are the glue. Meetings of heads of 86 group schools’ departments also happen and are generally handy. Sitting in the alcove at No 50, the evening light on the great oak tree is particularly wonderful and the birdsong stunning.
Which takes me on to livestock. The new lambs are in Butts’ Field now and (yes, honestly) are gambolling in the evening sunlight as I walk back from home after Jaw and chat to some Block 3 boys about why lambs like going into the wooden shelter that our alpacas so scorned. We will all feel easier about the lambs’ transition along the food chain (mint sauce is the clue here) when the time comes, because they have not been named.
This is not the case with the new quartet of 50 Church Road hens, who have recently been named. Unlike their predecessors, who were uniformly brown, either Waitrose rejects or rescue hens, depending on how you spin it, these are proper, svelte and gorgeous young creatures, a mere few weeks old and full of adolescent preening, with a good three of four years of productive laying ahead. Given the hopes that we pin on them, the capital outlay (x 6 of their predecessors) and their splendid distinguishing plumage and general pomp, we take the bold step of naming. Following a brief and entirely frivolous What’s App consultation with our own offspring, they are named: Snowy (the white one), Bluebell (bluish and that’s her breed and its bluebell time in Steep woods), Chicken (brown and looks like one) and Chardonnay, after the memorable character in Footballers’ Wives, Series 1, who was herself named after the over-worked varietal type of the extravagant 80s. I trust that they are all going to behave, especially Chardonnay.
*NB The left hand plays the bass on the wider drum called the “dugga” and the right hand plays the lead drums on the “tabla”. Together, the drums are also called “tabla”.