National Treasures

Thank you, yet again for the patience and commitment you have all displayed again this week. It’s been a good week, on the whole. I know that many of our learners have started to perfect your blended learning. You will have established a rhythm which allows you to work productively. I know that it continues to be different and, as a consequence, challenging, but you have all responded remarkably well and made the very best of the situation we all face.

Each and every week, during this period, I could quite comfortably ‘chunter’ on (meaning to talk or grumble monotonously) about change and how it impacts upon us all. Strangely, although there have been a number of shifts of policy at a national level, it has felt remarkably calm week. I am ignoring the wind, rain and flooding. I presume that if a sailor spends weeks in a hurricane, out at sea, when they face a storm it doesn’t feel so significant – I guess it’s all relative.

The cockles have been warmed this week. In times of crisis we all find things that we go back to or hold on to. Comfort blankets to some degree. For me there will always be British radio and tv sitcoms – as you’ll remember from the last period of closure. And so, in that vein it’s been reassuring to see national treasures back in action over the last seven days.

Firstly, David Attenborough returned with the new BBC natural world series; Perfect Planet. The series commands our attention as a consequence of the amazing photography and filmmaking, the wisdom of the narration and the sense it speaks at this time of climate crisis. There is something about the intelligence and the voice of David Attenborough which soothes as much as educates. I hope that many of you are enjoying the quality of the production as well.

Secondly, the legendary cricketer Jimmy Anderson returned to test match cricket today. He ended day one of the first test match between Sri Lanka and England having bowled magnificently: leaking only 24 runs in 19 overs, with 10 maidens and, importantly, having taken three wickets. At one point early in the morning (around 4 am our time and around 10.30 am local time) he had taken two wickets in one over – I appreciate all that will make perfect sense to some and no sense at all the majority. And so, here’s the thing: Jimmy Anderson is 38 years old. He’s a fast bowler. Fast bowlers usually have broken down, have given up and have moved on by the time there into their early 30s – such is the impact upon the body and the physical wear and tear they face. Jimmy is something of a freak. At 38 he is still able to steam in and take wickets. Having played test match cricket for almost 2 decades now he is showing no signs of letting up and all cricket fans are looking forward to him playing next winter in Australia as England attempt to win the Ashes.

You will all have your metaphorical comfort blankets. You’ll have things that you turn back to when you need comfort. That might be a food, it might be a TV programme, an album (for the younger generation that’s a series of tunes or songs put together in a particular order, as the composer and performers would want), a film, a place or a person. Whatever or whoever that might be during this difficult period that’s just okay. Find whatever reassures and comforts you and hold onto those things especially tightly during these difficult days.

‘The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends upon us.’

‘Real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics.’

                                                                                                David Attenborough

‘The time to think about personal achievement is at the end of your career.’

‘Cricket often leaves you scratching your head.’

                                                                                                James Anderson