The View From My Study – 22nd March

Charles Dickens, the author of Oliver Twist and fourteen other novels, wanted to be an actor before deciding on writing. He was a gifted actor too by all accounts but there was a problem. Dickens had fallen in love with a woman named Maria Beadnell whose family were middle class and they disapproved of her association with an aspiring actor – actors being seen as of second class status. In an attempt to win over her family, and also to draw an income, he got a steady job working in a law office.

This never did win him the hand of Maria Beadnell but it did open the door to the world of reporting and unruly characters from whom he could draw inspiration in his writing. Fagin and Bill Sykes, for instance, were based on two young men who bullied him in one of his early jobs.

Thankfully Dickens found writing and gave us Oliver Twist, a story about honesty, kindness, gratitude, justice and courage. We saw all of these values on show in the Upper School production of Oliver this week and there was nothing second class about the actors here who were, quite simply, amazing. A spontaneous standing ovation at the end of last night’s performance says it all really but there were numerous comments too including several spectators who said they would have paid good money to watch it in the West End.

From the 11 piece live band directed by Mr Penrose to the fantastic set designed by Mr Green, everything about the production screamed quality. There was real attention to detail in the choreography, costumes, props and acting and the energy and dynamism in the ensemble pieces had everyone tapping their feet. It was a complex show, drawing different emotions through the story, and ultimately its success is down to the inspirational Miss Thompson who, supported by other staff of course, has worked tirelessly to get the best out of the amazingly talented cast. In moments like this, it is easy to forget the children are only 11, 12 and 13 years old but they are the reason the staff work so hard. My heartfelt thanks go to Miss Thompson, all the staff who helped and of course the children who have invested so much into this week’s performances. You have left us all ‘wanting more!’

We have now reached the end of term and what a term it has been, full of success. Highlights include: thirty-four scholarships to senior schools have been gained by this year’s 6th Form pupils; the girls’ 1st team netball and boys’ 1st team hockey squads have both remained unbeaten (discounting tournaments) which is quite a rare double; all twelve pupils who entered have qualified for the next round of the World Scholars Cup; and we have seen and heard music and singing of a high standard, day in and day out, in the Pre-Prep and Prep. All things considered, it makes me very proud to be Headmaster of this great school!

Tomorrow afternoon I am looking forward to our Homefield reunion. The building in which our Pre-Prep now resides was once a girls’ school called Homefield and they are an important part of BG’s history, especially as we look back in this 150th year. There will be lots of guests who I look forward to meeting.

I wish you all a very happy Easter.

Gareth Jones, Head

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