Headmaster’s Blog

Today I told the Prep School that hugs are like corners. You needn’t worry that isolation in the Cathedral Close is finally taking its toll: I appreciate there’s quite a leap involved in my assertion, but do bear with me. Pleasingly, the children seemed to come with me this morning as I talked them through my theory – though it has since occurred to me that they may have simply been savvy enough to turn off their cameras before rolling their eyes and furrowing their brows in disbelief-slash-condescension-slash-pity.

Earlier in the week the Prime Minister addressed the nation to inform us that we are past the peak of COVID-19, and to tell us of the gentle lifting of some of the restrictions that have been our ‘new normal’ since 23rd March. He gave us an overview of the Government’s plans for schools in England, and I shared with the pupils that my team and I are hard at work with the School’s governors and staff – and, as per my letter on Thursday, consulting with the year-group parents/guardians – to explore what that might look like for ECS. He also told us that we can get outside to exercise more than the current once a day; and he also – and this is where the hugging part (almost) comes in – told us that we can now travel to go and see a special person, provided we remain two metres away at all times.

Who might that special person be for you, I asked the School? We can visit more than one special person of course – albeit on a one-at-a-time basis – and I shared with the pupils that I have a person (or two) in mind. They don’t live very far away, these two, and we have seen them lots over Zoom and Facetime etc – but we acknowledged this morning that it’s not quite the same thing as seeing them for real.

I am looking forward to seeing these special people. But what I am not yet allowed to do, I explained, is give them a hug. That would have to wait.

We agreed that some people are big huggers – you know the type; arms flung round everyone they meet. We also agreed that some people prefer not to hug so much. And we came to the conclusion that the more hugs you give, the more you are likely to get in return (good news for the hugophiles).

And that (here we go) is where hugs are like corners.

I held up a sheet of paper and counted the corners. There were four. I guess you knew that. I explained that I was worried about giving one of my corners away – I like corners, and would like to keep them for myself. So we did an experiment. I did give one of them away: I took some scissors and snipped off the top-right-hand corner. And then I counted them again. There were 5 in total. Odd, I thought: I gave one away and ended up with more than when I started. So I did it again – top-left this time. Then I counted again: 6. It turns out that the more corners you give away, the more corners you end up with.

And that (phew) is how hugs are like corners. Give them away and they come back in return. It’s true of corners and it’s true of hugs. And smiles. And laughter. And acts of kindness. And tolerance. And compassion. And love.

Hugs – well, we may have to wait a bit longer before we can give these out more freely. But the rest (including corners) are definitely good to go.

15 May 2020
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