Posted on 11/01/2021

96. January 2021

January has always been my least favourite month. Christmas is over, the summer is millions of miles away, it’s cold and dark, and getting out of bed, let alone onto my bike to cycle to work, takes all I can muster up of that old ‘can do attitude’. And that’s a normal January. A January during the best of times. January 2021 is not normal. And definitely not during the best of times. So how do we get through January 2021 and beyond? Let me suggest ten things.  

  1. Listen. Everyone has got an opinion about COVID: about what should happen; what should stay open and what should shut; how the government should be handling the situation. It would seem that there are about 60 million experts living in Britain right now, all convinced that what they think should happen should happen. But from what I can see, the science is by no means unanimous and much of our opinion is based on the newspapers we read, our temperaments, personal circumstances and situations, and the experience we have had of this awful disease. It is important therefore we recognise all this, and at the start of 2021 be more ready to listen to each other. 

  2. Be Brave. Bravery is not an absence of fear. Bravery is ‘I’m scared stiff but I still do what I need to do’. Aristotle said, ‘By acting bravely one becomes brave’. There is so much to be fearful and scared of at the moment. But don’t give into your fears. Hold your nerve. The New Zealand rugby world cup winning captain, Richie McCaw, refers to  ‘anchoring the mind’. Not letting your mind wander to fearful or distracting places but anchor it on what needs to be done and not worry about anything else.   

  3. Be Kind. Appreciate that everyone is coping with all this in different circumstances and with different temperaments. There will also be times when we will all cope with this better than at other times. Let’s help each other get through this.

  4. Be Enterprising. It is probably the worst time the country has gone through since the Second World War, but let’s make the best of it. There is a lady in my church called Freda who lived through the war. She is 93 and a total legend. She is gutsy, resilient, gritty and determined. She lives on her own and has been locked down since March. My wife takes things to her and stands at her door and chats. Freda is cheery and is just getting on with it. She’s come through a war and knows how to deal with whatever is thrown at her. She proves the African proverb that says, ‘Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors’. Freda’s been through choppy waters and is a skilful sailor. When all this is past, so will we. 

  5. Put things right. Use the time to build and repair relationships: with our parents, our children, our husbands, wives, colleagues, neighbours. 

  6. Trust. I need to listen to the guidelines, to the feeling among parents and boys, to what staff think and then make decisions. You won’t always agree with the way I call things and I'm sure you would do some things differently. But as Tony Blair once said, ‘Leadership without delegation is usually a mess…But when in crisis time, forget delegation. That’s the moment you’re there for: grip it, shape it, decide it and solve it.’ Trust me that in gripping, shaping, deciding and trying to solve things, my driver will always be what is best for our boys.   

  7. Be Thankful. With all that is going on, there is so much we have to be thankful for. Make a list of those things.

  8. Be good to go when all this is past. Lots of people will down tools, freeze in the situation and just think about getting through the here and now. Let’s not do that. 

  • Boys: don’t let your standards slip. Attend virtual form time every morning, go to all your online lessons, get all your work done to the best of your ability. Engage with your enterprise award. Who knows what exams are going to look like ever again! So the FBS Enterprise award could enable you to really steal a march on other young people who you’ll be competing with for university and the world of work. It is a great platform to show your skills, experiences, character and academic progress. 

  • Parents: thanks for all your support. Almost every single one of you is so supportive. But we would love even more of you to properly engage. Engage with the Friends of FBS, even during lockdown. In some ways it’s easier as you can just zoom in from your living room. Give us any time you have, share with us your talents, pass on any contacts, and those who can, give financially. FBS needs you to engage more than it ever has if we are going to come out of this ‘more than just a school’. 

  1. Look forward. The Fulham Boys School will be home soon! The silver lining to the latest lockdown cloud is we can now move to our permanent site a few weeks earlier. We’ll be in and unpacked by the beginning of February. Our move to the Fulham Road heralds the beginning of Phase 2 in our history and, like I said in my blog before Christmas, in many ways, There has never been a better time to be a Fulham Boy

  2. Think. Think about all that is going on, what’s really important, the big questions and get perspective. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the most powerful man in the country, said in January 2020, ‘This is going to be a good year for Britain’.  He had no idea what was ahead. None of us did in January 2020 and none of us do in January 2021. I’m not sure what you think, but in January 2021 I think I am definitely not in control; not the master of my fate or the captain of my soul. Psalm 121.1 

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