“Boredom is when there is absolutely nothing to do. Lethargy is…”

“Boredom is when there is absolutely nothing to do. Lethargy is when there are things to do that you can’t be bothered doing. Most people suffer the latter, but they call it the former because it lets them off the hook.”

Christopher Jamison

 This week I could write a very short column and sum up all that really needs to be said in two short words.  Eight letters would suffice.  I’m not going to do that because I think the community as a whole should be recognised more fulsomely for all that has been achieved in the last three weeks and let’s face it, I’m at my desk with nowhere to go. 

It turns out that novelists and film makers don’t quite have it right.  We have been told in many stories that when the world faces a crisis, communities disintegrate, and anarchy follows.  As yet, in this quiet corner of Croissy I have not had to fight off looters threatening to ransack the house to find our secret stash of lavatory paper.  There have been no reports of shopping cart hijacks outside the local Carrefour.  From what I can see via the media most places seem quite calm.  We must all hope that such rationality continues.

This has been a time when neighbours have introduced themselves and have sought to help each other out.  People around the world have posted amusing parodies on social media and A listers have turned their talents to reading bedtime stories and sonnets.  Who wasn’t touched by stories of New Zealanders putting bears in their windows to entertain younger children denied a trip to their favourite play park?  Thank you Michael Rosen for We’re going on a Bear Hunt and for reminding us that we’re not scared.  If our pupils have learned anything since this whirlwind struck it is that we are better off working together than looking out for ourselves.  Will they have the courage to continue to live this way once confinement is over?

Perhaps I have been doing this job too long.  There is a danger of cynicism creeping in.  Who would have believed that Year 13s and Year 11s would have continued to study without the shadow of looming exams to motivate? They have and hats off to them, they have studied and learned for learning’s sake.  Who would have thought that pupils of all ages would embrace their remote schooling and engage with study as successfully as they have?  Shame on me for doubting, I should have known that BSPers are better than that.

And now we have to meet another challenge.  The holidays, usually a time to switch off or do different will not be normal this time.  Yes there will be some time for lie-ins and the rhythm of the school day will not be there to structure the day, but having seen the way that the last three weeks have been approached I can cast cynical thoughts aside.  I’m issuing a challenge to all of our pupils (and any interested parents) to meet the demands of the Headmaster’s Housebound Holiday Challenge, to go above and beyond what they would normally do in downtime in eight demanding categories.  Over the next two weeks we have the chance to learn skills that may well last for a lifetime.  From learning a Shakespeare speech, to knitting by way of acts of kindness you can gain a prestigious accolade and will be able to show off for the rest of your life whatever it was that you learned to do while in confinement.  If you are to complete the challenge, then structure will be required.  Bear in mind the words of the monk Christopher Jamison.  Structure is the enemy of lethargy; if you create a rhythm for the day and ensure that time is differentiated by activity then this holiday will be both enjoyable and productive. 

Thank you all for the last three weeks.  We have truly shown what can be achieved, what wonderful things can be achieved when we are together in isolation.

Nicholas Hammond