This week pupils across England and Wales will return to school. It is an exciting time, full of promise and opportunity. This is certainly the case for our family, which has moved up to Stonyhurst from London over the summer. I have taken up my new role as director of strategy. My wife, Victoria, soon starts at her new practice as a country GP and our two young boys are ready to start school together for the first time.
Henry, 5, could not be more excited. He has quizzed the headmasters of both the big and the prep school and they have not been found wanting. We have explored much of Stonyhurst’s 1,000 acres. The territorial waterfowl that patrol the school’s famous long drive have been dubbed “the ducks of war” by the boys. George, 3, has had years of waving goodbye to his brother at the gate. Now he wants in.
Given the importance of the move for our family we had high hopes for a memorable soundtrack for the car on the first day. We all agree that “oboe” is a funny name for an instrument, so perhaps a vote for England and Vaughan Williams’s Concerto for Oboe and Strings? Stonyhurst has deep connections to continental Europe, so why not the baroque of Marcello’s Oboe Concerto? If that is too much, we could always agree on Morricone’s obvious but wonderful Gabriel’s Oboe.
We should not have bothered. The boys refuse to drive anywhere at the moment without Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger roaring at high volume. I am to blame for this, and in truth I could not be more delighted.
They are excited and why shouldn’t they be? Stonyhurst pupils spend their schooldays surrounded by and immersed in stupendously rich treasures. This term English and drama pupils will have access to a First Folio of Shakespeare and manuscript poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Art students will work alongside pieces by Dürer, Rembrandt and Turner. Historians and theologians will encounter a cope and chasuble commissioned by Henry VII.
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