Strutting your mutt

3

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Saturday afternoon and there is only one place to be – the Badley Behaved Dog Show and Fête on the Dunhurst pitches.  Zazu (usually benign, although sometimes dramatically not so, but always unthinking, black labrador) and I arrive a little late to find it all well under way.  There’s so much to do – much sniffing and greeting: gloating bulldogs, spry labradoodles, dopey Afghans (or it that a coat?) and even some mutts who look as if they have been specially coiffured up for the occasion.  Aha!  And there is little Toby, the most popular male mammal in the Petersfield area and one of the main reasons for visiting Bedales reception, where he presides. Another youngster wags in the distance – it’s Diggerty Cross.   And there is so much for dogs and their owners to do: Waggiest Tail, Cutest Puppy, Best Veteran, Best Pedigree Gundog, Dog Most like its Owner (steer clear of that one…) and Best Fancy Dress.  As for we two legged ones, the cream teas are beguiling, the Dalmatian Bouncy Castle inviting and as for the Waterfight Zone, well it’s soaking them up.

Zazu and I are having a nice, tranquil time: I am meeting people whom I generally know – or have met – she is meeting all sorts of new friends and is yet to have one of her cross / snarly moments.  I am not taking too many chances, having her on a (literally) very short leash.  Then, our quietish afternoon is suddenly changed by the request from the now hoarse chair of governors, Matthew Rice, that I take over the commentary from him. Whoops!  From being in gentle post-prandial, smallish talk mode to needing to sound canine-savvy amongst the doggy cognoscenti.  I haven’t even checked over breeds or warmed up the dog anecdotes. I’ve never listened to those legendary cricket commentators who can talk about nothing endlessly.  Never mind, just crack on.  It reminds me of when I was asked to  give a pep talk to a school pipes (ie bagpipers) and drums band one summer evening with about ten seconds’ notice.  I summoned up the “up and at ’em” and tried to avoid St Crispin Day echoes.

Off we go: and there is a soppy looking collie-ish creature, but what do I call it? And how can I say something not entirely fatuous about that fancy dress without it upsetting someone, probably the bearer? Things settle down after a bit. Funny how you discover – for better of worse – a kind of style.  Some of the old yarns come back.  There’s a seasonal factor here: in the summer term I need to think about dogs in advance of my annual dog assembly, so I am reminiscing about previous ones – the march of the labradors, and five things you can learn from a dog, being talks that spring to mind.  So, we have a bit of labrador breed history thrown in – and I have to break off to advertise those delicious cream teas before we get to the bit about that buoyantly woolly breed the Newfoundland.  Did you know…  Best thing is to give the microphone to the winners and to hear their stories – the rescue dogs’ owners’ being the best.

The sun continues to shine and our visitors depart, leaving the wonderful volunteers – parents and colleagues – to clear up.  More people now know about the John Badley Foundation: it enables children to come to our schools from families whose circumstances mean that a Bedales education would otherwise be completely out of reach. Perhaps they will associate it with panting geniality and cuddly hounds. There’s also something about this cranky and colourful afternoon that chimes with that fragile but precious thing, our ethos.  A medley of human and canine colour, it is a celebration of what we hold dear and of those wonderfully eccentric and precious bonds that tie us to our four legged companions: cheerful, a little quirky, certainly genial, inclusive, celebratory, colourful and proud to carve its own path.

Hiraeth, hefting and hygge

DUN_Daffodils-1

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.

Albatross
By Sebbie

The albatross flies,

Viciously eats fish for life,

He shimmers the sky

 

Little Brown Owl
By Tom

Brown, silky feathers,

Illuminous eyes glowing

Scampering for prey

 

Tawny Owl
By Oscar

The glow in the sun

Shines on my feathery breast

Brown with speckled white

 

Sparrow Hawk
By Ted

Ready for action,

Dive with speed amazingly fast,

Sweet delicious prey

Technicolor worlds, bravely lit

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Wednesday was one of the highly flavoured days when I have a series of technicolor moments that animate life, even in November’s neutral tones, and make me feel very lucky to be doing the job I am.

Bedales Notices first thing not only includes adverts for the forthcoming Hunger Banquet, production of Medea and visit to Florence (please wear a coat too), but a Movember message from moustachioed men: the message from Boys’ Flat housemaster duo Chris Bott and Peter Thackrey is about men’s health – let’s talk about it, blokes – but it’s done with humour and humanity.

Over to Dunhurst now for my weekly lesson with Block 1 English and another short poem for us to explore. After reading short gems like Larkin’s Cut Grass and local lad Thomas’s Adlestrop, this week we are talking about Yeats’ Wild Swans at Coole. 

The Block 1’s initial insights are impressive and I think of an adage a recent interviewee slipped in (“Children can smell qualilty..”) as I move along the corridor to the packed hall where Dunannie’s production of The Tempest is about to begin.

The children have been engaged in the story both through their teachers and through a visiting story teller. It’s clear from the first moment that the Dunannie children have truly inhabited the story. The adaptation, wonderfully constructed by teachers Camilla Bell and Catherine Claasen, with music by Ben Harlan and Mea Wade, comprises twelve scenes that light the imagination.

bednovpress-29-of-11

Anchored especially in my mind’s album are moments such as the Boatswains’ song with its great rhymes, the evil Duke’s wicked single black glove, Caliban’s green gloves and the meeting between Miranda (with her classy umbrella) and the marooned Prince Ferdinand.

There’s something magical about The Tempest, which is a dramatisation of a kind of fairy tale, being brought to life by such a young audience, with parents and grandparents looking on as this tale of greed and envy being redeemed by forgiveness and the hope of youth is played out.

Bravo, Dunannie!

Dunannie jokes

Gemma Klein Photography  Gemma Klein Photography

Having failed to don a red nose last week, I am trying belatedly to catch up on Red Nose events. Where better to start than the Dunannie Joke Book, composed by Dunannie pupils for Red Nose Day. Each Dunannie pupil has had a chance to have a joke included – and to provide some supporting illustration. Reassuringly, there are plenty of old favourites. Plenty reflect the sorts of things that go on in young children’s minds – ambivalent attitudes to custard, for example:

What’s yellow, hot and highly dangerous?
Shark-infested custard.     (Charlie, Yr 3)

Dinosaurs feature, of course:

What do you call a one-eyed dinosaur?
A do-you-think-he-saurus.   (Georgiana, Reception)

My favourite is one (from Tom of Year 1) that, after the usual grim start surprises with a poetic touch that elevates its object’s dignity:

cloud-joke

Like many people I have a poor memory for jokes but one from a comparable time in my life sticks with me:

What’s big and red and eats rocks?
A big, red, rock-eating monster.

I remember this being repeated endlessly. It kept on seeming funny.

So that’s my belated offering for the Dunannie Joke Book.

View photos and a video of Dunannie’s Red Nose Day.


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.

Celebrating The Chief’s 150th Birthday

Gemma Klein Photography

1865 saw the births of two men, W.B.Yeats and John Badley, whose lives affected how people feel and think now: Yeats as one of the most influential poets in the English Modernist movement; Badley as an educator whose vision of how our education system could be made humane created a school which has influenced many others. Although Badley could turn a passable piece of verse and no doubt a school set up by Yeats would have been entertaining for a few weeks (quite a lot of marching, sometimes in a nice brown shirt and a lot of learning about bizarre mythologies), I am glad that their respective vocational bias followed the courses they did. Yeats’ politics and his personal beliefs (think gyres and Rosicrucianism) were at best just odd, but often unpalatable, but his poetry was sublime and even visionary (think, Second Coming).

John Badley, aka The Chief, had his 150th birthday in half term (21st) and so yesterday, as soon as we could, we celebrated it by doing something I trust he would have approved of: cakes were baked, including a specially gorgeous multi-layered and beautifully ornamented birthday cake (made by colleague Diana Robinson, Dunhurst Matron) and we cut the ground for the new Art & Design building. In this respect the spade work was done by eight young men and women from across the schools – four Block 4s, two Dunhurstians and two Dunannie pupils (whose hard hats stubbornly wouldn’t stay on). They had the tough manual work; I merely had to sit in a (rather wonderful) machine and take some simple instructions. Here are some photos which give you a flavour. Many thanks to the patient men from our contractors, Beard. The good-humoured group of supporters who had witnessed the new building’s start disappeared into the February gloaming, with Chairman Matthew Rice’s suitably practical words, “See you again in 18 months’ time when we open!”

Gemma Klein Photography Gemma Klein Photography Gemma Klein Photography Gemma Klein Photography


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.

Dunannie Outdoor Work expedition

Walking in the morning sunlight to find Dunannie’s Year 3 class’s Outdoor Work  (ODW) lesson, which I am observing as part of a review of how ODW operates across the 3 schools, I need to do some orienteering in order to find them; yes, this is a proper, itinerant, mobile ODW lesson which involves walking from Dunannie round past the almost-finished Sam Banks Pavilion (interesting groundworks to note), across the back of Boys’ Flat and towards the A3 where I join them half way through their double lesson. It follows on very neatly from their trip to Minsted, when they were looking at where and how you might build new houses. It is all very well organised by Dunannie teacher i/c ODW Bridget Macmillan and Year 3 teacher Camilla Bell, with classroom assistant Gemma Grinter accompanying as well. The pupils are sensibly dressed for all eventualities, all carry clipboards (with plenty of questions on their sheet and with coloured Google maps of the area) and are organised in teams, with a camera, a compass and a Logbox (for measuring sound and light) each. They are patiently tracing their path on the map as they go, taking photos and measuring sound and light in different locations. We stand on the bridge over the A3, watch the traffic and they respond to questions about the impact of the road on the area, particularly on a rather sad looking barn we can see looking stranded and too close to this roaring road. Opportunities for project work on the A3 protests will no doubt be there – and I find my mind flitting back to Swampy, the eco-warrior, who became famous for his tree-top occupancy which held up the A34 outside Newbury in 1996. Where is Swampy now? I hear you ask. Well Daniel Hooper, 40 this year, is thought to be living in a yurt in a community in Llandeilo (Wales). Although I confess to appreciating not spending a couple of hours gridlocked in Newbury every time I drive up the A34, I rather admired him. Back to ODW and we are now returning to Dunannie (music beckons) and are looking quizzically at a ruined building we encounter on the way – was it an air raid shelter or an abandoned observatory? Some research to do here. The contented band of explorers place their clipboards neatly in the Potting Shed (the Dunannie ODW centre) and I look forward to hearing what their results and thoughts are after they have written up their expedition.

Dunannie Outdoor Work Classroom

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


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.

AS drama and three schools music

Sunday sees our AS Drama groups in from 10 working with Phil King and Lyndsey Turner, an assistant director from the RSC, who is bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the monologues and duologues that these 6.1 students are preparing for the examiner’s assessment on Tuesday. A busy week for them as they have their scripted pieces on Wednesday and Thursday evenings as well. I arrive as Vincent Z’s Aston (from Pinter’s Caretaker ) is giving us his harrowing account of being lobotomised. Inspired thinking to bring someone else in to give these final stages of preparation additional edge and fizz. Lyndsey’s approach is to encourage them to relax into their own performance and their own interpretation, rather than their thinking that somewhere out there is a perfect musical score that they should be following. A musical score of a different and more gregarious kind is in evidence on Monday as, for the first time for a while, we assemble strings players from across the 3-18 spectrum to play together in the Quad. You cannot underestimate the effect of having to look up and play “up” to a senior expert student in your field. This kind of occasion is designed to deploy that kind of powerful effect and to capture it on film.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


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.