We also had a week feeling the pinch of reduced public services: school staff who should have been on holiday actually on the phone all week for and with parents and children, trying to get referrals into overstretched social care and mental health provision. These good colleagues take calls everywhere: on holiday, on balconies, at relations, in supermarkets, in despair that there’ll ever be a service sufficient to need. Is this how the taxpayer imagines children should be cared for?
Still, summer’s apparently here so we come back to school and it’s like jumping into one of those lifts from the 80s that just kept rattling on round a loop. 6 weeks to go. Good grief.
Our Business Director hasn’t done a whole year in school before. She fears September careering towards her with so much to do. I try to explain the dreamtime myth of ‘in the summer’ in schools. We imagine there’s world enough and time to do everything we postponed until after the exams, knowing full well that the half term vanishes and the gap between July 21st and September 4th is telescopic, actually only a few days once the August excitements are over. I’ve said it before: September’s about 7 weeks away and time’s a funny thing.
All the more so as the clocks (and inexplicably, my watch) have all slowed down and we’re a bit adrift. We don’t have pips and we can’t use the tannoy during exams. I led the minute’s silence on Tuesday after the English exam and it took us a while to settle on when 11 o’clock actually was.
At sports days on the back field, time is success. 270 year sevens buffeted by the wind. Rain drives us indoors at lunchtime and Lake Tallis reappears on the yard (No Swimming). We fill the unforgiving hour with 60 seconds worth of distance run. And despite the unpredictable new exams and inexplicable cuts about to ruin us, we throw ourselves at every day. We live as if we are immortal.
Which is just how the people on London Bridge approached Saturday night. While I was cycling back over Lambeth Bridge from watching our violinists at the Albert Hall, guests to our city and locals died crudely and cruelly. ‘You are the best of us’ the Mayor said of the public servants who responded so quickly. Good people, doing what they can, cheerfully or fearfully getting through the minutes as well as the years, never knowing when darkness lies one step ahead. They didn’t enter the public service to be the best, but because they know that life is short and it could be better.
Which is why this election, like the European vote before it, has been such a monumental exercise in hubris. Quelle distraction. We all have jobs to do and impossible decisions to make because government sentimentality about public service doesn't extend to financing it properly. Persuading people to concentrate on froth and verbiage for 8 weeks doesn’t stop the young, the old and the sick needing more spent on them. Hollow election rhetoric doesn’t put police on the streets and it won't get a sick teenager a doctor. We didn’t have time for this vain campaign.
Our year 9 political correspondent and I convened on the stone stage on Tuesday. She’s enjoyed the campaign, which demonstrates the optimism of youth. She predicted a hung parliament: Hayley for PM. Tallis, as usual, had a Labour landslide. We know what we value: fairness, and decent public sector funding giving a helping hand for those in need.
So while the parties fight it out in the Palace of Westminster we need them to look hard at what they say they value and think again about the state of the nation. It's time to start governing for the people not the politicians. Get on with it, would you, please?