Friday, 9th March 2018
A week is a very long time! On my rather downmarket news feed on my home computer, I’ve just read the headline, “Beast from the East to be replaced by tropical storm.” Not being a journalist, I would note that this time last week Oxford was in the grip of some exceptionally cold weather. Though most of the school and the staff were able to make it in, there were a number of absences. Standing on Brewer Street in the morning in my thick overcoat with a hat and scarf made me imagine I was in some isolated Siberian settlement, the world pure white, little pellet-like snowflakes falling rapidly out of the sky. The roads were eerily quiet and the pupils arriving seemed to emerge quietly from the centre of some thick and isolated forest. A few days later, on Wednesday morning, I was in the same place, standing in the heart of a busy, multi-coloured city, the birds singing, people rushing up and down St Aldates, temperatures rather warm for this time of year. I loved the snowy weather. I enjoyed thoroughly the expedition we all made to Merton Field to pelt each other with snowballs. I must say there were few parts of my face and neck which hadn’t come into direct contact with snow and it was fortunate that I was wearing thick clothes otherwise my body would have been raw from the many well-aimed shots it received. We so rarely get snow in Oxford; it was lovely for us all to be able to enjoy it and I’m sure the pupils will remember the experience.
But here we are a week later, completely back to normal. As I started, how long a time a week is. I think this is a message worth stressing to our pupils. A week really can make a huge difference in so many ways. For some a week is enough to transform lives; for directions of travel to be altered, for events to occur which can completely reshape our lives and destinies; children can be born, careers altered, global events occur which change the history of the world. I’m sure all of us can think of such things. But even if a week is less dramatic, it is still important; it is still a time in which huge changes can occur in an individual. I’m thinking at the moment particularly of our Form 8s, all of whom I spoke to on Tuesday about their mock exam results. For them Common Entrance is not far away. For many the message was the same; there is little time now – the next three months will fly by but there is still so much that can be done in that time if you put your mind to it. And indeed with this attitude, a week is a very long time. Subjects, if approached properly, can be mastered, syllabuses learnt, revision programmes followed. There are many, many hours in a week if used efficiently and I suspect that much of what happens in our lives will be determined by how we use our weeks. If they slip by unnoticed, then so will our lives, whereas if we make the most of them, finding the time to achieve our goals, our lives will be replete with achievement and usefulness. For our Form 8 boys, I hope that they will treasure the remaining weeks they have with us here in school. I also hope though that no one will, having read this, feel unable to enjoy their two-month summer holiday of rest and recuperation! That’s also necessary – but that’s another story!
On Wednesday, Isaac, one of the Form 8 Cathedral Choristers, decided, with the help of some of his friends, to put on a magic show to which he invited personally all staff and pupils from Forms 3 and 4. Huge numbers of people attended to witness a spectacular show during which George’s mobile phone narrowly avoided being smashed (Mrs Juggins looked faint), saved only by some magic dice; a card bearing Miss Forristal’s signature managed to become sealed inside a packet of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, and a pupil was bashed over the middle by a chair but was completely unhurt. Afterwards, cakes, many baked by Mrs Stanley, were sold and in all the event raised more than £300 for our charity this year, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. I was so thrilled by the enthusiasm of all those who came, but particularly by the fact that this was all put on by a small group of pupils with very little teacherly guidance, though Miss Forristal was a perfect guiding hand behind the project. I was so pleased that initiative by our pupils led to such a happy outcome. All of this was achieved during the course of a week – see my previous paragraph!