Southfields’ Sketches: Reflections from the Senior Chaplain

Dungeons and Dragons! As a Lower Sixth elective? I asked myself that question, indeed incredulously, over the summer. The research indicates that Role Playing Games (RPGs) are in fact fantastic for the imagination, an excellent way to improve communication and problem solving skills and assists with the ability to work with a team. I’m looking forward to meeting with the pupils who have selected this elective for our first of eight sessions this upcoming Monday in Southfields.

In Chapel this week I spoke about a common 21st century plight – ‘SOS’ – Shiny Object Syndrome. Like Magpies we are sometimes drawn to collecting one shiny object after the next and never settling on being dedicated and committed to developing the one particular talent we have been given. Rosie Bennett (MO U6) and Valerie Poulden (NC U6) read a brief story about Michelangelo and his teacher Bertoldo who allegedly said to the great sculptor, ‘Talent is cheap, dedication is costly!’

The Master has very generously invited the Sacristans to a ‘Fanta and Chocolate’ occasion with her, in appreciation for the work that they do so well in Chapel.

Dr. Blokland, in Shell Chapel on Wednesday, gave a very informed talk about Science and Religion, suggesting that in fact both are stories, yet they answer different types of questions.

Deep thanks are extended to Mr. Adam Staines, our College Choirmaster, who directed yet another highly entertaining ‘Congregational Practice’ (Congers) on Friday for the Remove and Hundreds. He really ‘got us singing’! This made for excellent practice for the upcoming House Shout and House Harmony.

I have received confirmation from St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, that my offer of the Choir singing Evensong there has been accepted. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, 8 May!

This upcoming Sunday we will be celebrating the ‘Feast of St.Michael and All Angels’. The marvellous Chapel in which our collegiate worship takes place is dedicated to Michael, so this will be explored as an educational theme.

‘Thriving Through Venture’, a local charity in which some of our pupils participate, will be the subject of the Sunday Night Talk given by Mr. Nick Maurice.

I was pleased to have coffee this week with Fr. John Blacker, our Roman Catholic Chaplain. We are currently looking at setting a date for the Roman Catholic Confirmation service, likely the last Thursday in April. Catholic Catechesis begins in the Study Hub in the Library at 6.00 pm on Tuesday, 30 October. I have secured the date for the Church of England Confirmation service with the Bishop of Ramsbury for Sunday, 5 May at 10.30. Those classes begin in the New Year.

It was excellent to have received invitations to Coldicutt and Sandroyd Prep Schools, to offer an address to students in one of their weekly Chapel service. It is great to maintain such ties with two of our most important ‘feeder’ schools, and I look forward to my visits there.

And I am excited to be making plans for my visit to Marlborough College Malaysia, to visit Alan Stevens, the Master. We will be considering significant ways of linking our two Chapel programs to bring added value to both sets of pupils.

In my roving this week, I spent time over lunch talking about life and football with Ron, a popular and stalwart figure of the Norwood Hall lunchtime staff, who has been working at the College since 1957!

It was fun to watch Mr. Kiggell and the team playing Fives. I must try that myself as a supplement to the Badminton I play on Friday afternoons with pupils who have elected for that activity.

It was nice to have a chance to enjoy an ‘un-rushed’ cup of tea with nurse Ella Hutchison in the Sani on Thursday, and I needed to pop in on only one pupil nursing a bit of a bad chest.

It was great fun to host the Shell from C1 here in Southfields on Wednesday night. Josh Renton, James Muller, Charlie Henderson and James Westgate in particular, all made for excellent company. They say that ‘Mrs. P. is the best and kindest Dame in the school’! Josh and I shared dog stories – he is the proud keeper of ‘Teddy’, a ‘Havanese’.

Special thanks are owing to Helen and Millie and Gillie upstairs in Southfields, in the exams office! They provided me with helpful directions to the New Road Centre just off the High Street. Jan Perrins and Michael McNally accompanied me, as we took the pupil members of the Charity Think Tank to experience first-hand a drop in Centre for people with mental disabilities. The ‘Tankers’ have been inspired to consider the Centre as well worthy of their support.

And a MacMillan Coffee Morning was hosted by the ‘Exam Ladies’ – Helen, Millie and Gillie, in Southfields on Friday. It was great to see so many in attendance.

‘The Merlin’ student newspaper is being resurrected. I was interviewed by Eleanore Debs (IH L6) concerning my opinion about Exorcisms and the Ministry of Deliverance – a very fascinating subject, popular among the pupils, indicating that they really do have an interest in ‘all things visible and invisible’!
Finally, I was given an excellent tour of Preshute by Oliver Gardener (PR U6). He is applying to go to Tulane University in Louisiana, where my brother-in-law went on a golf scholarship. Small world! He shared with me his insights about Marlborough. Of his time here at College, having come from the Anglo-American School in Moscow, he says it has ‘strengthened me emotionally and in a work ethic way.’ He is pleased with his strong sense of accomplishment from having been in an environment with ‘boundaries’ yet balancing that with being enjoyable. He is very happy with his SAT results and looks forward to being ‘an Old Marlburian’ in two more terms.

From Rollo the Beagle and I, have a very good week, and ‘keep on walking’!

Reverend Tim Novis
Senior Chaplain
Twitter: @MCol_Chapel

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