“Kindness is in our power…”

“Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not.”

Samuel Johnson

It is always interesting to see how language adapts to new situations and events. COVID gems was new to me this week, apparently these gems are the things that you want to take from the turmoil of the recent months and keep as part of your usual routine.

I suspect that we have all had moments over the last twelve months where we have simply given thanks for the small, usually unnoticed things around us that make our world just a little more bearable. Birdsong has been a favourite, local walks, and in France, cheese. I was delighted to note that during confinement French households have consumed 32% more goats’ milk cheese and 9.4% more cows’ milk cheese. For those who like a little more detail, I can also tell you that the biggest single rise in consumption of any cheese was seen by mozzarella. Whilst it won’t have been counted in the overall figures it has been a real treat to have fresh cheese as part of our regular lunch, a “COVID gem” that we will continue with after the hurlyburly’s done.

This week has been French week in the Senior School. We’ve enjoyed French themed lessons, Gallic moustaches in unexpected locations and French music to accompany our lunch. Chapeau to the Year 13s who inspired this festival of all things Francophone. We sometimes take it for granted but we spend our days in an extraordinary environment, the place that inspired the Impressionists to take their easels out into the open air. I suspect that this week and next will be two of the most impressive weeks for tree blossom. If you have the opportunity (and it is within your ten-kilometre radius) then I do recommend a suitably socially distanced look. The National Trust (the UK conservation charity) suggested last year that we should plant blossom rich tree circles as a memorial to those who have lost their lives as a consequence of COVID. Perhaps it is time for us to add to the number of trees in our local environment. In a matter of weeks, the blossom will be gone, and our term will be drawing to a close. For most it will have been a term uninterrupted by COVID closure although I fear some alteration to the structure of the week for those in Years 11, 12 and 13. We await information and will pass it on as soon as we have it.

I’ve written before about doing things differently at the moment. This applies as much for careers advice as any other element of school life. So, a thank you to the members of our community who are providing online support to a number of our older pupils. Our Governors are getting in on the act too, providing career advice via the alumni Linkedin page. Wisdom is soon to be dispensed so watch this space for more detail.

At the end of all of this, the biggest COVID gem that we could carry out from the wreckage will be a sense of kindness. These have been difficult times and one of the most heartening elements is that people have been kind to one another. As we come to the end of a long(ish) term and patience in certain quarters may be wearing thinner it is important that we remind ourselves about the importance of kindness, not only to those around us but to ourselves too. So, take time to enjoy the blossom and have a restful weekend.

Nicholas Hammond