News from the UK

Dear All,

Greetings from the UK where we are now in Day 6 our initial anti-coronavirus 3-week lockdown period; I use the word initial advisedly because there are rumours that the lockdown could last for much longer (let’s hope not); with streets abandoned and shops mostly shut down life is eerily quiet – this morning’s dog walk with Ruby (python attack survivor) in the normally busy Tunstall Wood, was a lonely affair. 

Apparently, there is much interior decorating going on, ovens are being deep cleaned, lawns are being cut, flower beds weeded and junk in lofts sorted and, according to yesterday’s BBC news, with so many people stuck at home and keen to find ways of keeping their minds/bodies active, sales in bicycles and exercise gear, outdoor and indoor games, home and garden items, reading matter, electrical goods and coffee are all booming. One games supplier, Andy Beresford, reported that last week he sold 124 table tennis tables; in the same week last year he sold just 15. So, whilst many, many businesses have ground to a halt and are counting their losses, a few are cashing in.

Pity parents scratching their heads, running round in ever decreasing circles, wondering what to do with their children when they should be at school but there has been plenty of help available in the form of school-based on-line lessons and PE sessions provided for the nation’s children by Joe Wicks (well-known personal trainer). If you are wondering what on earth to do with your children as Zimbabwe starts its 21-day lockdown period then the list of suggestions for parents/children below, provided by the Daily Telegraph,might be of some use:

  1. Record a podcast
  2. Learn to touch type
  3. Make a cushion/crochet a blanket
  4. Start a blog
  5. Do yoga
  6. Build a bird house
  7. Interior design your bedroom
  8. Customise a frame, lamp base or plant pot
  9. Build a den or treehouse
  10. Create and run a shop on ebay
  11. Write a horror story
  12. Learn a foreign language or musical instrument
  13. Fold a lampshade
  14. Make a documentary or short feature film
  15. Write and record a song
  16. Cultivate a vegetable patch
  17. Cook a three-course meal

Whilst all this is going on, in the absence of public examinations – GCSEs and A levels will not take place this year – schools have the difficult task of deciding what grades to award their examinees (this will be done on the basis of how they have performed over the past year); they also have the very sticky problem of school fees to address. It looks very likely that the start of next term will be delayed and worst case is that next term will simply not take place at all… what should the fees be under such circumstances? Hopefully in Zimbabwe the Cambridge exams will take place and pupils will indeed go back to school on schedule for the second term (can you imagine a school year without a winter sports’ programme?) so such matters will not trouble you too much.

We live in unusual and challenging times.

Howard Blackett (Rector, Peterhouse 2013 – 2019)

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