When it comes to gauging humour, I suppose there is just no accounting for taste. The best jokes, I have always believed, are the ones where I grab the punchline just a millisecond before it is delivered. And then there are the very silly ones, which rely on a simple pun; the answer to the question ‘Why do I call my dog Blacksmith?’ being, of course, “Because every time I call him, he makes a bolt for the door.”
When camping out in Cheshire this week in the company of Year 5, I was reminded of the joke which, believe it or not, has been voted the world’s funniest. Not having slept under the stars since I was a boy, feeling so close to nature and with no light pollution or ambulance sirens blasting out, the Holmes and Watson gag came back very clearly to me the other night. ‘Sherlock and the good Doctor are going camping. They pitch their tent under the stars and go to sleep. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes Watson up: “Watson, look up at the stars,” he says, “and tell me what you deduce.” ‘Says Watson: “I see millions of stars and even if a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.” ‘Holmes: “Watson, you idiot, somebody’s stolen our tent!” As I said, there really is NO accounting for taste.
But seriously, there is a vital need for our children to develop their innate sense of humour; for us to inculcate in them a sense of the ironic. To be playful and humorous helps adults and children to make effective, relaxed contact. Too often these days, perhaps for fear of being ‘too informal’ or being misinterpreted, staff feel too inhibited to engage in the offbeat or the playful. Let that never be said of life at The Blue Coat School!
Well, after a serious week of assessments which will have tested their skills in deduction, Year 5 & Year 6 headed off to Bushcraft and to France respectively to hone their survival and language skills. Judging from the daily blogs, they seem to be having a ball. The sense of reliance and independence that our children achieve on these trips is immeasurable. I particularly enjoyed visiting the Year 5s and must commend all the staff on both trips. Their time and professionalism is greatly appreciated.
Back at School, Year 3 enjoyed a trip to the Black Country Museum and Transition went down to the farm. These cultural trips, with their visual, auditory and kinesthetic approach to learning, are as beneficial as they are fun. Year 4, who are going residential after half term, enjoyed a week of running the Prep School. They had the run of the grounds and seemed to enjoy their matches against Hallfield in rounders and cricket with satisfying results.
Next week it’s back to normal. Can I encourage Prep parents to come along to Founders’ Day on Friday at St Philip’s Cathedral at 2 pm. Which brings me in a roundabout, totally inappropriate way, to a joke for this beautifully warm weather, when the entire male population shows off its minor bushcraft skills by cooking outdoors. So, I ask you, ‘What do you call the clever fellow who takes care of two barbecues at once while wearing not so much as a stitch of clothing?’ You’re stumped? Bare Grills, of course!
MR NOEL NEESON | HEADMASTER