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Headmaster’s Blog

I was urged this week to buy as many strawberries as possible. That’s certainly advice that I am very happy to take – who doesn’t love a juicy strawberry? The reason to double-up on the punnets this year, I’m told, is tennis. Or rather a lack thereof. With the cancelling of Wimbledon (and other festivals), the uptake for strawberries is likely to be at a low this summer: in order to keep the strawberry-pickers in business we are encouraged to increase the quantities that we buy for our homes. Yum.

We will miss Wimbledon this year for the strawberries, and of course for the tennis – but also, I venture to suggest, for the familiarity, reassurance, comfort and excitement brought about by these seasonal regulars. There’s a comforting routine and rhythm to the summer: the Lord’s test, the end of exams, report-writing season, Wimbledon, Speech Day, the end of term – and this soon gives way to the autumnal reliability of the first day of the school year, Strictly, half-term, Advent, Carol Services, Christmas. And so time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons and daughters from one season to the next, and we are gratefully carried along on the gentle tide of familiarity.

Thank goodness, then, for the BBC archive, who are showing some of the most iconic Wimbledon encounters from the last few decades so that we might all get our fix. And you can find the Ashes, too – whether you choose Botham in 1987, Flintoff in 2004 or Stokes in 2019. There are some exciting and memorable highlights packages out there.

Re-running these iconic moments and looking back to what’s happened before is a way of finding some familiarity in a world where, temporarily, the events and traditions that we are used to cannot happen as they normally would. They provide comfort, reassurance, and allow us to engage with a routine that we know and love, albeit in a different way.

Our own end of term will be different, too. We’re not able to have our traditional Speech Day in the cathedral or to say farewell to pupils and colleagues as we normally would who are moving on or retiring. What we can do is adapt and react as circumstances allow – think creatively to rework the model. And so it is that we’ll have our (first ever) Virtual Speech Day. A formal invitation will make its way to you early next week – I do hope you’ll all tune in from home on Thursday 9th to help us round off an extraordinary year together. We have brought our Year 8 pupils back to School – housed in the cathedral buildings (thank you to our friends and neighbours of the Dean and Chapter) – so that they can be sent out as the Class of 2020 in a new and different way. And as a staff body we will gather virtually to raise a glass of something to our departing colleagues.

These events won’t be replica models of the traditional seasonal regulars that we are used to – but they’ll be special in their own way. Different, but special. And I hope that, when the time comes, these are the moments and memories that will feature in the highlights package for the ECS community when looking back (perhaps with a glut of strawberries) at the Trinity term 2020 – a moment in time like no other.

3 July 2020
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