Today John Bell came to visit us, to see the children perform. Each class put on a few minutes of their play, so we had nine short performances. Even the Infants revived their magnificent productions to showcase their acting skills. Afterwards he generously conducts a Q & A session with the primary children.
John Bell said to me as he was leaving: When the little ones came skipping on I was completely won over.
When, nearly twenty years ago he was invited to be the patron of our Shakespeare Festival it was a little hard to persuade him to come up to the school. But we persevered and he finally came and saw the children perform. He expressed his complete delight at the children’s performances.
But some years later, he confided to me that before that initial visit his heart sank when he realized that he was going to have to see six, nine and twelve year olds, in his words, murder Hamlet . When we finally persuaded him to come, he said, he found something he could never have believed: articulate, happy children, dressed in their costumes, greeted him at the gate and then performed with commitment, clarity, gusto and good-humour. And, he says, it is the same every year.
He is now a strong, enthusiastic advocate for John Colet School. Just a few weeks ago, for example, at Sydney University, he was singing the school’s praises at a conference of educators. It is a great privilege to have such a great Australian as a firm friend of the school.