I am aware that I run the risk of counting chickens too soon, but I have to say how proud I am of how the whole College community has managed this term. Before the term began I had envisaged that at any one time there would be teachers out of school having to isolate, with lessons having to be covered by their colleagues; and pupils either at home, having tested positive or as close contacts. I had envisaged that teachers would be teaching classes that were not full, while keeping a constant eye on who was absent and how to deliver material to them and keep those absentees up to speed with their work. The fact that that has not happened is a testimony to the plans that we have put in place and the enormous hard work of staff over the holidays, the good-natured cooperation of the pupils (largely!) and the evidence, that is incontrovertible, that schools, full of lively young people, are not hotbeds of transmission.

I am someone who tends to see the glass as half full, but even I have had a fairly empty glass these past few months. Nevertheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as news of a variety of effective vaccines emerges, and I am optimistic that during next term we will start to see some things return to normal. Yes, I am sure we will all have to continue to take precautions for some time, but I am hopeful that we will be able to do much more than has been the case heretofore. And, as the prospect grows, it has set my mind to thinking about the things that really are most important, both personally and in College. What have I missed most and what am I most looking forward to?

Personally, the last few months have made me yearn for many things that I have always taken for granted. It is not the “spectacular” that I am looking forward to but the everyday: giving friends a hug; ordering a pint of Guinness at Taylor’s; being able to go over the water to see my family on the odd occasion (I just missed my mother’s 90th birthday); watching sport on TV with an actual crowd instead of fake noise! I wonder if it will make us all more grateful for what we have in the future, grateful for the myriad of things that give us joy and yet which we have missed over the course of this year.

At school there are many things that I miss and the prospect of their return fills me with an absurd sense of anticipation: the whole school swelling the chapel with boisterous singing…this year’s new pupils have never heard the sound of a packed chapel singing fit to burst; watching the pupils play matches; listening to our fantastic new musicians performing in the BSR…and, most strangely of all, seeing the pupils’ faces without a mask on. There are some pupils whose faces I have barely seen this year because they are always covered up. Maybe we should have a bonfire to burn our masks, while we dance around and recite incantations. OK, that is not so sensible, but the chief memory of 2020 will always be the sight of people in masks and, while they have been necessary, they are no less abhorrent for that.

I wonder what you are most looking forward to.

As I said, I am very proud of how we have coped with this year and very grateful to so many people for their hard work. I am aware that I may be premature in my musings in some ways, though it is the prospect of a return to normality that keeps us all going in these dark times and I am surely not the only one who is looking ahead to 2021 with a sense of hope.