I was asked to give out prizes this year, and this is the text of the speech I gave. I also had projections and the accompanying images give an idea of these though they were also animated.
I want to congratulate all those who won prizes today- and also, as Fr President observed this morning, those who did not- but who clearly have been working very hard. And Anna- I don’t want to sound like Simon Cowell but this afternoon, you have made that Sondheim song entirely your own. Congratulations one and all!
Now, I want to talk about change.
We often find it hard to adjust to demands for change. But we are all as any mathematician, – or indeed as Heraclitus or Pocahontas might have said, in a state of flux. We cannot step in the same river twice. You know the song, “Once more round the river bend” – frankly, Disney says it just as well as the ancient greeks.
The demand OF constant change is uncertainty. Check out the Maths which is appearing on the screen to my right! Maths might help us understand what is happening but it is often experiences from the past that can help negotiate this uncertainty.
So, I hope you will indulge me, if I talk about an event when I was a boy here at Ratcliffe. When I was doing the Oxbridge exams and in the same week a production of Merchant of Venice, and I was caught shouting at the cricket pavilion. This was not an architectural statement. Rather, a pointless and a slightly loud display of fury and the then headmaster, Fr Anthony Baxter, took me into his office and suggested I should accept as providential things that I could not control. (Incidentally, I cannot quite control the projection of the maths – those of you who have just finished the Maths A level will agree that maths happens at its own pace. We must be patient.)
Fr Baxter urged me to follow the example of Rosmini, the man who imagined setting up this school in the first place. Antonio Rosmini was really a tremendous writer who incidentally had irritated Vatican bigwigs and had made powerful enemies. but it was the march of history that was his chief adversary. A few years before his death, he was due to be created Cardinal secretary of state by Pius IX but even as he received a set of buttons specially embossed with his family coat of arms, The pope went into exile and Rosmini’s preferment went up in smoke. Now this is the point: and I checked it yesterday with Fr Ted but neither he nor I could remember the exact words of the account, so here is the gist, in Fr Ted’s words, Rosmini took a little time time getting his head round it and then he moved on – and it is that time for pause that is important. So is the fact that he accepted the reality of the new situation. Over the next few years, it simply got worse, by the way, and his his life’s work, his writings were condemned, yet at the end of his life he says, “Be still, adore and rejoice”.
a cloud of suspicion hovered over Rosmini’s work until Vatican II. Today, He is accorded the respect he is due, and even quoted in Papal encyclicals. But it took a century, at least, for his ideas to be accepted. It takes time. Change takes time. A phrase we will get very familiar with in “post referendum”.
So, I was told to accept things that did not go to order. “Be still, adore and rejoice!” Well, I was far from rejoicing, and, by the evening, I was seething. I explained this to another one of the Rosminian priests, a man called Fr Basil, who made me a cup of tea, listened very politely and then gave me a book with a bookmark on which he had hastily inscribed the words “Ephesians 4.26”. I looked it up the following morning: “Never let the sun go down on your wrath.” So, that was a bit late! Here were two principles- to accept providence and curb anger. Let’s put that another way- to work with reality and to do it with kindness.
Nurture your own talents because that is what you will be good at. Think of Rosmini- his writings: two of his books were placed on the INDEX, the list of books no good Catholic should read, (these books- his life’s work) were forbidden and yet he never stopped writing. We are not meant to bury our talents but to develop and use them – as we heard in Church this morning St Paul says we must fight the good fight, or as I recall the wonderful Doc Orton used to point out- and some of you received prizes today in his name – Winston Churchill simply told the country during the dark days of world war 2 to “keep soldiering on” (or words to that effect).
There is a danger to determination, of course. Some years ago, I was directing Hamlet and had this insane idea that fish should play a major part. I would like to think I was inspired by the old baldicchino in the church here which was covered in fish- But we did a deal with a salmon farm and every night, the stage manager’s last job was to defrost a fish, put it in a bucket of cold water, for the following day. It all came from the line, “you are a fishmonger” (act II, sc 2) which had a slightly different meaning for Shakespeare. Anyway, the fish made its first appearance when Hamlet was feigning madness, and he produced the fish and slapped it around Polonius’ head; he dissected the fish in the big “To be or not to be” speech and then later the fish was brought on stage on a dog-lead by the mad Ophelia. We won’t do anything new unless we are prepared to take a risk. But being prepared is a key part of the process!
Sadly, one day the stage manager forgot to defrost the fish so it was hastily done with a kettle of boiling water about 10 minutes before it was due onstage. and that meant that the fish was not so much defrosted as cooked, and it fell to pieces, bits of fish here and bits of fish there. The place stank of fish and I had to spend much of our profits paying for the theatre to be professionally cleaned. Sometimes, we take unnecessary risks – just as fish seemed a great idea before it was cooked and scattered around on stage, so it’s always good to pause before a risky decision.
In other words, our understanding of providence needs to be active rather than passive. We must do our best at everything- Providence is no excuse for indolence- we must work at our future; we must be prepared, we should throw our hearts into it (some of you are looking a bit sleepy: I nevertheless want you to throw your hearts into life) whatever you do and however many hearts you may have! I think there are no “Time Lords” here, but do you know that a worm has more than one heart? (It has five) and can anyone tell me how many hearts a cockroach has (This is one of those useless bits of information that I promise you will remain with you for the rest of your life!) It has 13 hearts! That is why it is such a survivor I suppose. You should be as cunning, as determined and as resilient as a cockroach!
Exams are one way we can test the value of what we have learnt, but we also test our ideas every day simply by discussing them with our friends. Believe me, I would rather hear a friend tell me that I have a really loopy idea before I act on it. That is real kindness. And, frankly, it was fairly kind back then to tell me to stop screaming at the cricket pavilion.
Let’s go back to Rosmini for a moment, because even at the end of his life, Rosmini is talking about action- rejoice is something that we have to do fairly actively. We could bring Rosmini’s words into everyday usage- “stop, be kind and be creative.” Indeed, Providence without kindness is simply fatalism.
Kindness is something I remember about Ratcliffe. and I know that Mr Lloyd today sees kindness as a great feature of this school and a great tool for communication. “Be still, adore and rejoice”
To be still is very important. I worked for a director of an animated film who thought we should all work in silence. He went around the studio unplugging people’s radios. I thought he was wrong then. I think he is right now.
Stillness is something that can be encouraged in school, but the place where it is also needed is back at home. You cannot listen unless you are silent, and – you know I have been setting up an educational faculty in a University in Moscow, and I do occasional lectures, in English. My Russian is execrable, so they started to provide me with a translator and then gave up. These days I just vigorously wave my arms around – but I noticed that when students of any age put up their hands, they tend to stop listening. They are only thinking of what they plan to say. The same is true in politics. I was at a referendum debate a few weeks’ ago and three fairly robust councillors in a row, all asked exactly the same question. They also happened to be in three different parties. Nice to know they were thinking the same thing, but interesting that they were not listening to one another.
We need to change that. We need to listen to each other much more.
Rejoicing or happiness is again difficult, particularly in times of crisis, and we need to practice it a lot for it to be natural. This is about positive thinking and creativity but it is also about discipline and about confidence. We need to keep alive a spirit of optimism and hope, in small things and in big. We do not need to rejoice just about the past- we should enter the future in that self-same spirit of optimism.
The role of parents at home is vital to the well-being of a school like Ratcliffe. we expect there to be Inspiration and discipline at school, but we also need it at home – there may even be a place for distraction, but in my experience, children are perfectly good at doing that themselves, beginning with Minecraft, then warcraft and even game of thrones or call of duty. We need to be ever encouraging, always rejoicing in what children are learning. The more they learn, quite frankly the more we learn too, and that is no bad thing.
For the last few years I have been an academic guardian, looking after children, often from other countries while they plough ahead with their education in the UK. Sometimes they make mistakes, and I think it is my job to try to keep them focused on the goal despite these mistakes. Frankly, if English is not your native language, it is very easy to get confused. I want to tell you about –let’s call him George- who is doing an exam this evening so even as I am speaking, I am slightly on tenterhooks. He badly wanted to study Astronomy for GCSE. The school said this was impossible, that his timetable would not work, that the subject was only available to a very small select number. George really wanted to do it, his parents said, and so I spoke to the housemaster and the director of studies on his behalf. After negotiations which might well put Mr Junker to shame, George got his way. However, it soon became clear that there had been a misunderstanding.
Fuelled by Harry Potter, George’s interest, it turned out, was rather more in Astrology than in Astronomy, and quite frankly, he would have been better off with a subscription to the Daily Mail. Still, to his credit, and with a lot of encouragement, he has persevered. That means, we have spent a lot of time discussing astronomy: and this morning, just after I got out of Church, he rang me for a last minute revision test- so as I speak to you, I am also still thinking of the dwarf planet Pluto, its twin Eris, and its moon Dysnomia – this was never a subject I expected to enjoy. But you remember the line from “The King and I”, “When you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught.”
And more broadly, if we are teaching children the skills of analysis and evaluation, then maybe we should not forget that all forms of entertainment can and should be open to examination, and who knows, it may only be a matter of time before we see Assassins creed on an A level syllabus, but I trust and hope that this will not be at the expense of Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer. As parents, teachers and children, we need to practice celebrating the unexpected and we should perhaps reflect that an idea not worth examining is not really worth having.
I want to finish with a few words of praise in the same spirit – the past 6 years at Ratcliffe have seen great change and stupendous leadership. I have got to know Ratcliffe again under the robust headship of Mr Lloyd and we can all be very proud in what Mr Lloyd has achieved. I have mentioned the kindness which I knew in my day and I know that same kindness is treasured today. I have also mentioned providence and the idea of rejoicing both in what has past and rejoicing in what is to come.
This year, Gareth, as you enter your final year at Ratcliffe, you can be assured you will go forward in the sure knowledge that the ideals of the school are secure, that your future is sound and you will look back, I assure you, with great pride on your days as a Ratcliffian.
Yesterday, Dr Wollaston changed sides. I quite admire people who change their opinions especially in the middle of a race. It is rather noble, I think, to defy the school 400m, turn tail and run backwards to the starting point. It requires guts and self-judgement as well as a fair degree of élan to pull off this sort of manoeuvre successfully.
It is also something that, quite frankly, you can only do once. (I did it so that is the end of that)
In this case, I think Dr Wollaston has actually drawn attention to a disturbing trend in the Referendum campaign. She said that she was not comfortable with the claims being made about the potential money, potentially £350 million a week, available to spend on the NHS (and the simple fact is that she is right). This is what she has said,
“For someone like me who has long campaigned for open and honest data in public life I could not have set foot on a battle bus that has at the heart of its campaign a figure that I know to be untrue.
“If you’re in a position where you can’t hand out a Vote Leave leaflet, you can’t be campaigning for that organisation.”
This is all well and true, however, and I have been saying this for a while, but the problem here is that the claims made about the £350 million were being made quite a few weeks’ ago, so her sudden defection seems a bit tardy. Was it that she did not think the claim mattered as long as it was not plastered over her own bus? The timing of her move is just not quite right.
Dr Wollaston is quite good with warnings – she warned us before the General election about the need for a £15 billion spend on the NHS to avoid the whole system imploding during the present parliament. So prophetic and right again, but late, and she is doing the same here.
We also heard about fraud (£670 million lost last year with 9000,000 Euros lost to dishonest EU staff!) but the figures were drawn from Olaf, the EU fraud office, which presumably is in the process of catching the fraudsters and putting the money back where it belongs.
Boris has made the £350 million claim fairly often-“We send the EU £350 million a week – let’s fund our NHS instead.” -that is 350 million a week going to Brussels (17.8 billion a year), but with the rebate (1984) the actual figure is closer to £240 million and the rebate takes place before any money is sent to the EU so the claims made about Britain sending £350 million a week to Europe are blatantly false.
More than that, the £240 million odd that is sent to Brussels does not include the money spent by the EU on UK projects. Scientific research (in 2013 was £1,4 billion a year), education and the arts all benefit from EU investment and bring the overall net fee to around £130 million a week- still arguably alot of money, but significantly less than the claims made by Boris.
The UK Statistics Authority wrote rather apologetically to explain to the leave campaign that their figure was wrong, but still the sum is peddled out…
But there are other more serious errors. The first is the simple fact that even if we save £350 million every week, there is no guarantee it will be used in the NHS or can be ring-fenced at all. If a “Leave” result causes the economy to tumble as some predict it will, then much of that savings will be lost anyway and the reality of the post-Brexit negotiations certainly does not guarantee any substantial savings if we follow Norway . So the simple fact remains- if I do not spend money as it is currently spent, that does not automatically mean I have saved it- It may mean I no longer have the money to spend at all.
The Philosophical problem
There are good reasons for voting “Leave”- supporting our declining fishing industry is one of them, and I contributed advertising to that end.
I still think this is an important cause, but on reflection, I am not sure it is enough to see us quit the EU. That alone is not enough- a big negative gesture will not bring about anything positive. Again, back to the Wollaston issue- saving £350 million does not mean we can or would automatically use that money on the NHS.
Here is the mistake of the BREXIT campaign in this instance and it is a serious one: not doing something bad does not mean we are automatically committed to doing something good.
And back to Statistics
But the Remain side has been equally plagued by dodgy statistics, so once again Dr Wollaston’s desire for honesty is compromised. The Osborne claim that families would be £4300 worse off after Leave is again fairly spurious and based on a misreading of Treasury data. Jacob Rees Mogg is someone I respect a great deal and this is his conclusion-
“I care nothing about the bus. I am not concerned about charabancs. That is not at the heart of the debate.
“I have always used the net figure. What is far more shocking is that the Chancellor has been using a figure he knew would be misleading.” Mr Rees-Mogg is in the Brexit camp.
Fishing problems in Cornwall and why Captain COD’s campaign is so important
Deborah Cowley writes the following,
A TANGLED NET
Cornish fishermen have hit local and national press twice in the last few weeks. Blue fin tuna, worth millions of pounds, spotted off the Cornish coast and a Newlyn Trawler, forced to throw back its accidental 10 tonne haul of spurdog shark because of EU legislation. This is good news for our fishermen in one sense, as it highlights the frustration they face on a daily basis, forced to comply with an impractical ‘tangled net’ of restrictions, currently imposed on the UK.
An unrealistic quota system resulting in vast quantities of a discarded natural resource
Friction between the UK and other member states due to large fleets of foreign super-trawlers with access to our waters under the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy)
Subsidies that benefit countries with a higher volume of modernised commercial vessels at a disadvantage to UK fishermen and the taxpayer by default
Expensive licenses, operating costs and fluctuating market prices, leading to low income, job losses and a steady decline of traditional small scale British fleets
Questionable scientific research relating to zero TAC (Total Allowable Catch) applied to species such as spurdog, abundant in Cornish, as well as other UK waters, according to the fishermen
Paul Trebilcock, Chief Executive of CFPO (The Cornish Fish Producers’s Organisation), is especially concerned with zero TAC’s on spurdog, introduced by the EU in 2010 because of stock status fears.
A discard ban, in force since January 2015, now obliges fishermen to land by-catches of saleable fish in excess of quota to help preserve and maintain a viable economy. As regulation allows quotas to be sold, leased and exchanged between fishermen, this is a welcome step in the right direction for the industry. Past preservation measures and successful resting mean many stocks are now flourishing. The new EU parliamentary rule is to take effect in stages from now until 2019. This ruling, however, does not apply to species with zero TAC’s, including those considered to be endangered, such as spurdog. Paul said “This is a waste of a perfectly good food resource clearly not in line with CFP principles.” He added: “There is no question in my mind that spurdog populations are increasing throughout Western Approaches and beyond.” Together with scientific agency CEFAS and DEFRA (Department for Food & Rural Affairs), Paul and his team are hoping to address this issue with a pilot project using a real time reporting system. This will enable the fishermen to document an increasing number of spurdog accidently caught and provide scientists with the evidence necessary to a land a limited amount of a dead marketable resource without incentivising targeting stock.
THis is not a “FISHERMAN’S TALE”
Skipper, Phil Trebilcock, is certain there is “no short supply of spurdog” (recorded in his logbook). “A recent haul in Newlyn had to get a crane to lift it out as the drum couldn’t take the weight. Good quality, healthy fish, ending up as crab bait. It’s a shame there wasn’t live TV coverage so the public can see what’s out there too.” Spurdog breed fast. They eat mackerel, pilchards and anchovies, heavy in Cornish coastal areas, so it’s no surprise the fish appear to be flourishing. Phil estimates that with a reasonable quota it could be sold at £1.00 a kilo. “Enough for a decent income for Cornish fishermen.” The fourth generation mariner is adamant our men would “fish sensibly” and give it adequate resting time to replenish stocks, as they do with other fish. The skipper firmly believes there “should be regional management of quotas.”
Ben Eglington said: “We are jumping through a lot of hoops, really struggling. One of the problems with our quotas is weather; it governs how we catch. If conditions are good for a certain fish, and we’ve already reached our quota, there’s nothing we can do. We are throwing money away, over the side of the boat, and that’s just daft.” Ben, 27, is among the minority of young fishermen in Britain today (average age around 50) Most have to take second jobs in order to earn a living. “Hardly any young people are going into the industry anymore. Their families are advising them not to. So there will be a shortage of fisherman here in the future.”
Tension with regulation is the same at Mevagissey Harbour. Andrew Trevaraton said: “Last year we had to throw away 2,400 haddock, most of it dead, as we were out targeting lemon soul. Afterwards, one of our other boats went out with CEFAS to show them how many there are and caught ¾ of a tonne in just an hour and a half. Our monthly quota for haddock is only 250 kilos and there are thousands of tonnes of it in the Cornish Coast. Smaller boats, restricted by weather, don’t need to be travelling hundreds of miles away when resources are here on our doorstep.”
Fishing since the age of 5, William Shugg, agrees with Andrew. “Haddock is a big problem here. Three years ago our monthly quota was 4 tonnes. Last week I caught 200 kilos in one day. Before that, 600 in a day; more than double the quota. I sent a message to DEFRA about this problem but had no reply. Without complicated rules our jobs would be so much easier. The industry allows us to sell and swap quotas but this is time consuming and not always possible. Earning a living is extremely hard. Fluctuating prices for some fish, like mackerel, can go from 20p a kilo to as high as £6.00. We can’t budget which is why most fishermen have second jobs.” When asked about spurdog, he said: “We see it all the time. My friend had a substantial by-catch recently in Falmouth Bay. It’s also here in Meva but we have to throw it back.” Echoing the words of Phil Trebilcock, William concluded: “Fisherman should be able to govern quotas themselves. Swap and help each other with regional committees. It would be much fairer system.”
Harbour Master, Matthew Wheeler, is hopeful that a few places now offering training schemes will help encourage young people into the industry. “Many from a traditional family fishing background now choose different career paths as it’s an easier way of making money.”
Described as “hardy and resilient” by James Incledon, of channel 4’s popular documentary, The Catch, fishermen at one of the UK’s largest marine ports are equally tied up in bureaucratic knots. Beam trawler Skipper, Sean Porter said: “We are one of the richest fishing grounds in this country and MP’s are not doing enough. Until the day one of them actually owns a boat, we’ll forever be speaking a different language. Ministers should be appointed with expert knowledge in their fields. It’s like having a Minister of brain surgery with no medical training.” Sean said that when one of the European Ministers visited the harbour, he was shocked to learn they “steam out non stop with up to seven hauls a day.” The skipper said this was yet another example of why we shouldn’t be dictated to by Brussels. “CEFAS only come out on each of the boats twice a year.”
There are numerous species the Newlyn fishermen can target when quotas for certain fish are low so they are more fortunate in this aspect. Not so fortunate though if the men find themselves temporarily out of work due to injuries. “If we can’t go out, we don’t get paid and the benefit system doesn’t look after us like they do in France. We are treated like second class citizens here. I spent nearly three months without any pay once. The French wouldn’t put up with that.” Surprisingly, the ‘resilient’ skipper hasn’t lost his sense of humour. “I said to officials that with all the extra paperwork we’re having to do every day, they can go out and buy me a size 26 blouse and skirt and pair of high heels, because if I’m going to be a secretary I may as well dress like one.”
Steven Sately (nicknamed ‘Cod’) said: “Quotas don’t work with mixed fisheries like Newlyn. And changing quotas every month makes things worse. The people who make the rules don’t even know the rules themselves half the time. There is enough fish out there for everyone if it was worked out carefully. But in this country we are dependent on DEFRA to do this for us. ”
Retired fisherman, Richard Ede, left the industry ten years ago as he’d “had enough” of the “out of touch with reality rules imposed by the CFP.” Richard said: “We sacrificed an industry back in 1973 (when Britain entered the EU). The UK has a habit of doing things to the letter, and beyond, much to the detriment of our nation. Quotas are not a major concern for those with stronger fleet duration. Policy makers shouldn’t sell away resources to the highest bidder. A lot of fish is caught by huge foreign trawlers before it is even fully grown. It is no wonder stocks are dwindling. Before the seventies, when we had control of a 200 nautical mile radius of the waters around Britain things were very different. We should turn the clock back and become the guardians of our seas again.” Richard cites Norway as an example of a how a self regulating fishing industry thrives by managing its own stocks.” In his opinion, the CFP is fundamentally flawed as it limits landings, not the catch, therefore “not protecting stocks.” He said: “It is a scandalous waste of resources, money and labour.”
Cornish MP and Minister of DEFRA, George Eustice said: “The marine environment is incredibly complex. No man-made policy designed to manage it and deliver sustainable fisheries will ever be perfect. The science will never be perfect.”
“If we want sustainable fisheries, there is no alternative but to have some kind of catch limits on vessels and some kind of quota system. Whether we are in or out of the CFP we would have that quota system, just as Norway, the Faroe Islands and other states pursue catch limits. And we would still have arguments with other countries about allocation of fish stocks and seek reciprocal access arrangements.”
The Fisheries Minister said: “We should all pay tribute to the great work of my predecessor in this post.” (Richard Benyon) “Who I believe made some important breakthroughs on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.”
“Even I, a strong Eurosceptic, recognise that good progress was made on CFP reform.”
Cornish fishermen have no argument that catch limits and quotas are required. After all, it is in their interest to preserve stocks for the industry to survive. They will argue, however, that policy made in Brussels is giving them an unfair deal. The new Landing Obligation will go some way to rectify this but still unclear as to how much fish will be wasted on dry land. With a growing population and a record number of people relying on food banks this is simply an unacceptable practise. As a traditional, sea-fairing nation, we need to do all we can to support these hard working men, out there day and night in dangerous conditions, so that we can enjoy what ends up on our plates.
Sanjay Kumar, founder of School of Cornish Sardines and major supporter of the UK fishing industry, agrees that quotas need to be re-distributed according to natural resource of artisanal fishermen. He said: “It is the fisherman who is the endangered species, not the fish.”
Captain Cod is part of the “BETTER OFF OUT” campaign and a mascot for our endangered Fishing fleet.
I got asked by the Conservatives to do some animation for the “better off out” campaign.
After the last election, I must admit to being cautious about my position on Europe, and I think it is very difficult to get this across to the public as I fear my own position is probably one shared by many people in the party. Specifically, I worry about excessive and crippling bureaucracy as well as the attacks on Greece by Germany and others that frankly undermine her sovereignty- it does not matter what Greece did to provoke such a response. The fact is that the European project should also guarantee our own individual national sovereignties, even as we move towards greater union, politically and economically. The Captain cod image seems to me to target one of these bureaucratic issues head on, and I have a third video planned where I hope I will be able to refer to Greece’s plight in some way.
While I can imagine a Brexit, I think the practicalities of following that path are worrying and the much better solution is an undertaking to reform the whole European project. This means, though, that we need to be prepared for any eventuality and we need a more robust argument. If the whole thing is catapulted into a discussion of migration, then we have missed the point. The migration issue will affect us whether we are in or out of Europe whatever those in UKIP claim. But more than that, the migration crisis of today will be gone in five years time, while the Europe question will still be important. We were side-tracked at the last election and the agenda was set largely by UKIP’s diet of racism and resentment. We have to control the argument and the discussion now.
Here is the link to the making of Captain Cod
here is the film, link:
some preparatory images
the captain cod film:
a few more preparatory sketches
a picture of Max Miller, one of my heroes, not so much for the naughtiness of his subject matter and innuendo, but for the immediacy of his delivery. We can still all learn from what he did and his influence is seen directly in the work of Frankie Howerd, Larry Grayson and Julian Clary.
You will see all the music hall connections of course and meanwhile I am ploughing on with the project to animate “Burlington Bertie” and “the Night I appeared as Macbeth”, both songs by William Hargreaves from the heyday of the Music Hall. Check my music hall lecture here. Part 2 is on the way.