By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Never a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I find myself wondering why: simple, I like resolutions and challenges too much and don’t see why they should be simply for the year’s start.
So, what weremy Christmas holiday’s resolutions and challenges and, thinking more broadly, what might be some of this term’s?
Re-discover Wales: go to the Gower Peninsula, enjoy the restaurants of Mumbles, climb (most of) Pen-y-Fan, traverse Rhossili beach’s splendour.
Remind myself of Dickens’ riches: re-read Little Dorritt. Grapple imaginatively with something truly unpalatable, the plight women of the USSR armed forces in the Great Patriotic War (The Unwomanly Face of War, Svetlana Alexievich). Discover an author I haven’t properly appreciated – Helen Dunmore (Talking to the Dead, Counting the Stars). Read someone I didn’t know existed – Elizabeth Taylor (Mrs Palfrey at the Claremonth). Wonderful. Read a book that challenges my thinking: Money: the Unauthorised Biography, Felix Martin.
See another thoughtful musical (after Spring Awakening) – Sondheim’s Follies at the NT with its echoes of Death of a Salesman. See the RSC’s Imperium, six hours of drama based on Robert Harris’s account of Cicero’s life. Unexpected bonus here was finding OB Pierro Niel-Mee in two central roles – Clodius and Agrippa.
Chuck out a load of old stuff – de-clutter. Happily seeing my family doesn’t involve the need for resolutions, at least so far.
But, much more importantly, what are the challenges thrown up by the start of the term?
Our first Wednesday notices brings some: knit something creative and try for the Jacob’s Sheep Society’s (JSS) Lady Aldington Memorial Trophy. (Warning: if you flirt with the excellent JSS website, you could be gone for some time. But at least read about the history of the breed, which is suitably romantic.)
Be there at the Junior or Senior Literary Society’s discussions of the books they have read over the holidays – The Talented Mr Ripley and The Hare with Amber Eyes on two evenings next week.
Come to the Classics’ Society’s revival meeting on Mythology (which underpins most things classical –ask Cicero) or hear Charles Hall’s Civics on Venice.
Most pressing in most students’ minds will be the imminence of mock exams (for Block 5 and 6.2) and the challenge of getting a great deal done in the mere ten weeks of term.
But by the close of Wednesday, quotidian concerns, vital though they be, are put into a different context by the first Jaw of 2018, given by Charterhouse’s chaplain, Clive Case, who talks arrestingly about the value to us all of bringing into our lives more silence.