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May fun and frolics? – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 16 May 2018

May 16, 2018

May fun and frolics?

As we enter early summer, the month of May has traditionally been a time of high spirits. I suppose this goes back to a sense of Winter truly past, Spring firmly here and warm, sunny days in prospect. The recent glorious weather for the Mayday Bank Holiday appears to have borne this out. It was, thus, with this sense of fun that I read an article in a recent publication of the I newspaper (by Jenny Eclair) which bore the headline:

‘Let Britain’s cone freaks and pranksters have their fun’.

Traffic cones and pranks

Statue_of_Wellington,_mounted,_Glasgow_-_DSC06285

Statue of Wellington, Glasgow with traffic cone

Ms Eclair referred in her article to the regular adorning of some statues, perhaps positioned perilously close to drinking haunts, which sported cones, silly hats and other mischievous embellishments. The most iconic of the traffic-cone wearing statues is one which I saw a few years ago when in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games: the Duke of Wellington sits astride his horse outside the Royal Exchange and both rider and horse normally sport some sort of bizarre head gear. (Apparently the Glasgow city council had a massive sense of humour failure some years back and threatened to double the height of the plinth to prevent such japes. This was ‘shouted down’ by the fun-loving Glaswegians!).

Exam season is upon us

The other reason (apart from the summer season) this article caught my eye is because we are into the exam season at school and before long (about six weeks hence) there will be plans in schools up and down the land for some ‘end of exam festivity’. I do hope that here at least this will be done with its usual good humour and careful regard for sensitivities and mess!

A few years ago we had the best prank ever: our Y11 pupils conspired with the Caretaker and got into the senior staff room. This they filled with balloons up to a depth of shoulder height. What fun staff (and pupils) had the following morning wading through the balloons and then releasing them! This was coupled later in the day by every member of the senior school (pupils and staff) receiving a kindly written personal note wishing them well for the future.

Our Headmaster reflects

Old Model Toy Old Cars Classic Car Vehicle Mini

A mini or a mini car?

I do remember my own end of exam time at boarding school. Our relatively new Housemaster had purchased a bright red car (a mini I recall) shortly before the end of the term. Overnight we managed to push it out of sight (foolishly it wasn’t locked) and replace it with a toy replica car. There was a great deal of merriment the next day as we watched our Housemaster leave his house on the way to boarders’ breakfast only to see his car had shrunk! An even more ambitious prank, also involving a small car, took place at another Scottish boarding school – and this time when I was a teacher. The 1st XV (several of whom went on to represent their country) managed to lift a teacher’s car all the way up two flights of stone stairs and deposit it, suitably adored, inside the ornate dining hall!

Please don’t misunderstand me: I am not condoning or seeking to encourage outlandish pranks! I recognise, however, that there are times when we may wish to ‘have some fun’ to mark a rare but momentous moment. Let’s do it kindly and with thought for the upset it might cause and for any clear up which is then needed. The balloons’ joke has stuck with me as a happy memory and especially so because of the subsequent ‘thank you notes’. Keep pranks simple and appropriate! As Ms Eclair concludes: ‘Life can be very corporate and boring sometimes, so thank you to anyone who occasionally creates a bit of diversion by doing something daft’.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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