Monday, April 10, 2017 by Richard Biggs
Now that we're well into the Easter holidays, the end of term, and indeed the Lent term itself, seem something of a distant memory. Bits and pieces remain vividly memorable though: the opening of the new art studio, with artist Michael Brennand-Wood doing a superb job of inspiring our students and looking the part to perfection (see photos on our website); the wonderful murder mystery evening put on by our drama scholars; and the fantastic feast of end-of-term music, not least the sumptuous Lent Concert, featuring Faure's Requiem (and yours truly on the horn, trying desperately not to lose my place in the score).
All attempts to get away from King's and possibly spend a few days in Cornwall have proved in vain, partly because of work and partly because, in a fit of extravagant hedonism, Sarah and I signed up for a Magill wine tasting spectacular in The Firehouse in Curry Rivel this week. Well worth it! Great pub. Wonderful wines.
So instead I have decided to tackle a task that has been looming over me for several years, the sort of job that keeps you awake at night wondering whether yoll ever have the courage to begin it: Tidying my workshop. Recently my man cave has reached a state of such perfect chaos that I only ever go into it when I know nobody else is around, terrified that a passer-by might peek in and draw several negative, possibly unwarranted, conclusions about the Headmaster's state of mind. I finally bit the bullet, rolled up my sleeves, said goodbye to my family and waded in. Three days later I have emerged triumphant. My workshop is a thing of pristine order. It has a floor that you can see. The work benches are empty. Several car-loads of rubbish have made their way to the recycling centre. There are labelled boxes on the shelves: 'small pots of paint', 'bits of rope', 'wood for barbecue'. The recycling centre has been a revelation. It has a shop! From which I have now purchased three bar stools for my workshop. I am so proud of the place that I hope to invite friends in there for a beer now and then. Ah well, it won't last - the second law of thermodynamics will always win out.
Education has been much in the news these past few days. We have had a court case in which the right to fine parents for taking their children out of school during term time has been reinforced. Rightly so, I think. A week away from lessons is a lot of teaching to miss. It's tough on children to expect them to make up lost work, and tough on teachers to expect them to manage absences and fill in the gaps afterwards.
And the Labour Party has announced its plan to fund primary school meals for all pupils by charging VAT on independent school fees. Yet again we see politicians peddling a simplistic and mistaken view of private education: that it is the preserve of the ultra-rich and that sending a child to a private school is somehow sinful and deserves punishment. Their plan could have absurd consequences: a perfectly ordinary family, with both parents busting a gut and making huge sacrifices to send their child to an independent school because they want the best for that child (and by the way both paying taxes towards a state education they are not making use of) having to pay even more in the form of VAT to pay for the meals of a far wealthier family who have sent their child to a primary school. It's an absurd plan and I take consolation in the fact that it is unlikely to become reality anytime soon.
And while I'm in the mood - what about the timing of Easter? Every time I meet a senior cleric in the C of E I mention this. The fact that Easter wanders around the calendar with a celestial mind of its own is distinctly unhelpful. We will be coming back to school on a Thursday next term for goodness' sake. If we know that Jesus was born on 25 December, can-t we be a little more precise about his death? Say the first Friday of April? School managers around the world would breathe a sigh of relief. (I expect a rap on the knuckles from Father Mark is on its way.)
Today is the first day of the new county cricket season. It is a perfect spring day. Somerset are playing Oxford Universities and I am sorely tempted to tear myself away from my workshop (I do spend time in there just admiring it now, to be honest) and pop down for an over or two. The school grounds are looking superb. The Summer Term is a thing of wonder and beauty and enormous fun (if you're not taking public exams, that is) and we look forward to it all year. Only a week to go!