The View From My Study – 26th May

Nostalgia: it ain’t what it used to be!

Ok, terrible joke but it came to mind last week when I was touring Old Biltonian David Veit, who flew in from San Francisco to see his former school. Although he has been back on numerous occasions since he hung up his Head Boy’s cap in 1952, this was his first visit for a number of years and he was impressed by the developments of the School.

Certain things are different from his early recollections – the chapel seemed smaller, his dormitory is now a classroom, the treehouses have gone – yet other things are the same – the smell of the Ravenscroft, the grandeur of the Library, the various bits of lost property.

It was endearing to see the memories flooding back and nostalgia like this is a powerful tool. It reminds us of why it is so important to create an environment for children in which they can be themselves, and develop academically and socially without growing up too quickly. On this point, I think Ian McEwan articulates it best:

“For children, childhood is timeless. It is always the present. Everything is in the present tense. Of course, they have memories. Of course, time shifts a little for them and Christmas comes round in the end. But they don’t feel it. Today is what they feel, and when they say ‘When I grow up,’ there is always an edge of disbelief—how could they ever be other than what they are?”

I believe this sentiment to be very important to Bilton Grange and we must all strive to ensure it remains in place, despite the modern-day social pressures. It is important to live in the moment and Biltonians must seize opportunities when they arise, embrace the experience and make memories at every turn. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some of our current pupils back here in years to come, still spritely, and still wistful of their happy BG days and how their futures were shaped.

Incidentally, David brought with him a copy of his Uppingham academic scholarship papers which he sat in 1952. How those have changed! I particularly liked the question from the General Paper which asked the candidates to write a conversation between an exceptionally short man and an exceptionally tall one, in which each points out the advantages of his own particular height!

Happy half-term everyone!

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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