By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Soon to re-visit Trieste and woken early by owls, I am reading Jan Morris’ poignant slim volume Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. An extraordinary book about an extraordinary place, it introduces me to the Welsh word hiraeth which has no direct translation into English; she describes it in her introduction as “an unspecified yearning”. Inklings of Spring bring hiraeth for some – perhaps most famously in T.S. Eliot’s opening to The Waste Land. Here, whether it is through the Bedales Orchard’s return to pedestrian use (although please avoid the daffodils), the contented snuffling of Lucky’s new litter in the Black Barn, my first view of a red kite over the Orchard Building or the Dunannie Spring Festival, I find myself thinking more of the word used by Lake District shepherds to describe the way that their sheep become attached to a particular piece of ground – hefting.
The Dunannie Spring Festival combines dance, song, poetry and film. We have strip the willow, owl and humming bird songs, touches of Oliver and Sound of Music and splendid haikus, the most striking being those in the voices of birds. Here is a sample – thanks to Sebbie, Tom, Oscar and Ted (see below). The Festival ends with the film of a homemade Spring Watch episode, Dunannie-style, featuring daffodil girls, snow drop queens, pupil rabbits and spring poets, all surely hefted in their orchard.
Hiraeth and hefting are words which have a poignant twist for anyone lucky enough to be at The Middle East Society Civics given by William Sieghart on Tuesday evening. Having set up the Middle East Society after spending most of my sabbatical term in 2009 in that region – Cairo mainly, but Jordan and Syria afterwards – it is pleasing to witness an occasion like this when we have not only a wonderfully clear account of the problems facing the Israelis and the Palestinians but also such a clear sense of the broader responsibility that Europe has for what has happened there. It is intriguing and humbling to hear about the work that William has been so closely involved with in helping community leaders from both sides gain a better understanding of each other and of the links between this region, Northern Ireland and South Africa. Attending a talk like this must whet your appetite to know more, I think, as the questions to William flow. Lucky us to have this talk and lucky us to have the unusual blessing of a beautiful secure place to live in and a society whose discords do not threaten our lives.
Hygge is on my mind too: this Danish term, maybe a bit over bought in the Christmas hype, is the subject of an Extended Project (EP) that I am overseeing. The EP folk – some 1/3 of the 6.1s – have the exhibition of their work in the Library this week and then are in over the weekend completing their pieces. Here’s trusting that there will be communal hygge as they survey their work and reflect on how much they have learned about managing projects and the thrill that can accompany a single-minded pursuit of what intrigues you.
The albatross flies,
Viciously eats fish for life,
He shimmers the sky
Little Brown Owl
Brown, silky feathers,
Illuminous eyes glowing
Scampering for prey
The glow in the sun
Shines on my feathery breast
Brown with speckled white
Ready for action,
Dive with speed amazingly fast,
Sweet delicious prey