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Lockdown Week 7

This will be something of a short message. I’m not expecting anybody to want to read this on a sunny bank holiday. It makes a nice change for the sun to be shining over the bank holiday weekend, even if it does not feel like a typical bank holiday; I’m not sure whether that’s as a consequence of the present crisis or that the bank holiday has been shifted from a Monday to a Friday.
Thank you, once again, for all the hard work you’ve undertaken this week in supporting our young people. As this crisis and lockdown continues it is becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain levels of motivation and enthusiasm. It’s hard enough for us adults who can, to some degree, rationalise things. It’s even more difficult for our young people who may be feeling particularly bereft as the lockdown extends.
We should have some indication on Sunday as to the direction of travel from the government. This will allow us to think about “what next “. As you might expect, we will follow the direction, take heed of the guidance and consider the advice. First and foremost, we will put the safety of the students and adults at the heart of our considerations as we plan for the reopening – whenever that might be and in whatever form.
I attach this week a flyer sent by the NHS, which is designed to encourage us all to continue to use the national health services available and not to put ourselves, our family members or our friends in a vulnerable position as a consequence of an unwillingness to burden the medical professionals.
I seem to have done much less of the other stuff this week, possibly because of the consideration of the reopening of the college. I would recommend watching selected box sets and have been taken by the most recent series of Money Heist (watch it in Spanish with subtitles not dubbed) and After Life, with and by Ricky Gervais.
I just want to briefly recognise that it is the 75th anniversary of VE day. Whatever one’s own personal history, your political inclinations or your views on national events, today is a significant day. As time ticks relentlessly on it is the last time that we might take a national moment to reflect upon the sacrifices and personal challenges that had to be endured between 1939-45. Many millions died worldwide, many more were scared physically and emotionally, many never recovered. And then that generation endured many years of economic and social hardship, allowing us to build a safer country and a safer Europe. This day isn’t about nationalism, jingoism or even cynicism; it is about reflection, respect and some appreciation. 
‘All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honour; duty; mercy; hope.’  Winston Churchill
It’s a longer weekend. Enjoy – if you can.
Stop now if you want to!
The comedy connections have been severed this week. I got to the end of my linked comedies. If we are still in lockdown next week, I will consider another range of companies, but as a one off I wanted to share with you something of our collective love for Croft and Perry’s Dad’s Army.
Dad’s Army is certainly a gentle sitcom. The age of most of the actors meant that it couldn’t be anything other than a more sedate approach to the situation comedy. However, it still stands up after all this time. It has a timelessness about it, and it is certainly very British/English. As we recognise today VE Day I thought it appropriate to reference this comedy about that era, that time. We could have selected a whole host of episodes to consider (there were something like 80 episodes and a film made) but I do hope that you enjoy this particular favourite. It’s gone down in televisual history – but don’t tell him Pike.
The genus of the comedy was the experience that Jimmy Perry had during the Second World War. He wrote a sitcom about his experiences and he was particularly taken by the character of Private Walker – in fact he wrote that character with the intention of playing it himself. David Croft, a producer, was matched with Perry by the BBC and over a period of time the two of them took Perry’s role script and bashed out a pretty decent sitcom. Certainly, better than later Croft and Perry sitcoms: It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hi-De-Hi and You Rang M’Lord. Their later work doesn’t stand the test of time and they do not stand alongside Dad’s Army for its comic situations, cleverness of script and, more importantly, quality of acting and actors.
The cast were a pretty serious bunch, with many having had many years as major players in the British cinema of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Lowe and Le Mesurier were deft comic actors who had years of experience and 100’s of films between them. The larger ensemble cast allowed for a greater range of set up or situations than much of the comedy output at that time. I would suggest that Dad’s Army was the first sitcom to exploit the catchphrase.
Much of Dad’s Army is just daft. It’s never going to overly stimulate the watcher. We are never going to be prompted to debate the genius (or otherwise) of a leading character or script writers, it’ not going to reveal something about the time in which it is set or the socio-economic changes afoot at the time. It’ll just make you smile, as it did when it was first aired in 1968.
Enjoy The Deadly Attachment.