Friday, 10th June 2016
I have been impressed with the way in which the boys have got on with their exams this week; they have approached them with a focus and commitment which is very positive. For those Year 8s who have been working towards their Common Entrance for the last two years, that process has now come to an end. What awaits them for the next few weeks is a time to enjoy the last few days of their prep school lives and in so many ways those days are some of the most precious in a boy's life. I certainly still remember my post CE experience; I'm quite certain that the sun shone on every single day! I suspect it may not do so this year. One parent said to me that they weren't looking forward to their son leaving because it would be the end of 15 years at the school! These bonds do run deep and I have been touched with the affection that so many people seem to have for the school. We will know how all the CE boys fare towards the end of next week.
I spoke to the School in Cathedral today about the wonderful episode of Desert Island Discs which was on last weekend featuring the eminent surgeon David Nott. I was particularly struck by two aspects of his tale, firstly his extraordinary bravery in performing complex operations in war zones such as Syria and Gaza where he took decisions to operate on people when many others had escaped from the hospitals for fear that they might be bombed and, secondly, for an account of a dinner which he had in Buckingham Palace. He was sitting next to the Queen; she turned to him during the dinner and said "And so you have just come back from Syria?" Suddenly, faced with this enquiry, he found himself unable to respond. The Queen realising his situation, said "I think I might be able to help." At that point she handed him her roll and summoned the Corgis who crowded round him at once. He said he was immediately calmed by the touch of another creature and his state of deep trauma at what he had seen and experienced in Syria was temporarily at any rate, cured. Both of these stories seem to show examples of human sympathy for others and I commended this quality to the boys. They might not realise how much their acts of kindness might affect others.
I am constantly impressed with the quality of the greetings with which I am treated at the beginning of the day by our pupils; the variety of them is seemingly infinite. I was particularly delighted to be told a couple of days ago: "Good morning Sir, you're looking very clean!" I thought carefully about whether I had spent a particularly lengthy time in the shower that morning but then wondered whether I should take this as a compliment or as a reflection upon my usual state of complete dishevelment? I didn't dare ask.