Headmaster's Weekly Address

09-Mar-2017


The community interest in my reading over the break continues to surprise me.  I do wait each year to gauge whether the amusement factor in the exercise has waned or whether the critiques of the previous year proved to be poor guidance.  Enough hardy souls have asked when I was to publish THE LIST with a few small pieces of commentary.  So, to the holiday reading list of SFR …

The first book I read was ‘Prisoners of the Reich’, an account of British and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen held in Stalags during World War II.  David Rolf tells the story of deep self-questioning and some extraordinary attempts to overcome the predominant situation – boredom.  This was a fascinating but sad read.  Escapism is always part of my summer reading and so I took to John Grisham’s, ‘The Whistler’ easily.  A story of deceit, gambling and the challenges faced by indigenous North Americans in his usual easy style, made this a racy read.

‘The Spy’ by Paul Coelho, probably best known for his book, ‘The Alchemist’, told the sad tale of Mata Hari.  Pre-war and World War One was not an environment for a strong-willed woman.

Tim Winton provided two further courses for the literacy feast.  ‘Island Home’ explores the influence of place on us all.  Perhaps this book is best encapsulated by the quotation ‘geography trumps all’.  Winton’s ‘the boy behind the curtain’, explores in an autobiographical style, the experiences in Winton’s life that have shaped his writing.  This east coast, beach-raised lad found much of his west coach beach reflections resoundingly similar.

I read ‘The Best Australian Essays’ each Christmas period.  This edition, edited by Geordie Williamson, had the usual pot pourri of views and positions on many current issues.  Its value to me is often that the opinions sometimes challenge my views.  Two big biographies then consumed the best part of a week’s reading.  One an autobiography, while the other was supported by the subject providing hitherto unavailable material.  Both men redefined their political party!  ‘Tony Blair – A Journey’ was a very good read.  He has a sharp mind and, I discovered, spent his first five years here in Australia.


Troy Bramston’s, ‘Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader’, was also a fascinating insight into the politics of Paul Keating’s time and the socio-economic shifts in the Australian political landscape.  Keating’s early life intrigued me as he manoeuvred his way to being an MHR by the age of 25.  Although Prime Minister only from 1991 – 1996, he certainly changed the economic structures operating here and continues to exert an interesting influence as an elder statesman and commentator.

Following the deep thinking and concentration required by political machinations, I fled back to the fictional world of backstabbing and mayhem in Ian Rankin’s, ‘Rather be the Devil’.  Rebus in retirement has lost none of his edginess and dry Scottish humour.  ‘Stroke of Genius’, by Gideon Haigh, told in detail the Victor Trumper story, which in some ways reflected the story of Australia in that part time.

‘The Story of Australia’s People’ by Geoffrey Blainey reacquainted me with my Australian historical details and certainly emphasised we are a nation made of many people: our national stories are of high drama, routine lives, resilience and failures.  A collective story is so like a personal one, a story of both highs and lows.

I re-read Clive James’, ‘Latest Readings’ to see what of the James recommendations I should put on my brief Easter reading list.  My final book of the holidays was another re-read.  To commemorate the 100th Anniversary, an updated edition of Martin Middlebrook’s, ‘The First Day on the Somme’ was published.  This remarkable book not only details the strategic and tactical picture of that horrible day, but also tells of the horror through the words and experiences of a wide range of individual soldiers across the ranks.  

I did not at one point think I would reach my baker’s dozen, but a few extra hours on the verandah at home after we had returned from the beach got me there.

My thanks to our Music staff for a superb night out on Monday evening.  Those who took my insider advice and join us, witnessed talented musicians, enjoying their music and thoroughly entertaining the Boyd Egan crowd.

Excellence Award
 
Year 10
Zhihan Jiang
approved for Fellowship, Trinity College London Examination in Piano Performance

Headmaster’s Study Awards   
Year 12
Aviation
Daniel Ingleton
Recreational Pilot Licence
    John Maniatakos
Recreational Pilot Licence
    Dominic Sullivan
Recreational Pilot Licence
       
Year 12
English
Maxwell Thomas
for having written a thorough and mature discursive Text Response essay on Frankenstein, exploring the Creature’s level of compassion or condemnation in the novel
       
Year 11
English
Simon Cosgrave
for having written an exceptional piece in response to an image of The Miser for his study of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
    Nicholas Reynolds
for having written an exceptional piece in response to an image of The Miser for his study of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Kind regards


Stephen F Russell
Headmaster


St Kevin's College will nurture relationships and develop friendships among students, staff, Old Collegians and their
families

(from the Mission Statement)