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Conkers

New beginnings, conkers, falling leaves and frosty mornings.  These are just a few things which could be associated with the Autumn Term, or Term 1 as I believe it is now known.

I have to admit that I haven’t quite kept up with the terminology for school terms.   Heading rapidly toward my mid forties, school seems a long time ago when the world was a very different place.   We didn’t have Google, no one had a mobile phone and chalkboards were only just starting to be replaced with white boards.  O-Levels had already been replaced by GCSEs – I’m not quite that old.  But the concept of exams being graded A – E was very much the norm.

On the whole I have fond memories of my time at school, particularly at Prep School; so up to the age of 13.  Curiously, on the odd occasion I cast a nostalgic look back at my school days, the image is normally one of an autumnal morning and lining up for chapel.  There’s frost on the ground, the leaves are tinted slightly orange and some conkers are being knocked together in the background.  Meanwhile a teacher is stood on the bit of raised ground in front of the rows of boys giving out notices for the day ahead.

I’ve never been overly religious, although as an organist I do spend a lot of my time attending church services.   Our Prep School Chapel was quite a unique design with the East end of the building being made up of a large triangular window.  This gave a view across the orchard towards the senior school where most of us aspired to be when we were 13.   Often there would be groundsmen outside with lawnmowers or painting lines on ‘Top Pitch’ for a sporting activity later in the day.

Just under thirty years later, I found myself back in the School Chapel at Cranleigh Prep, looking at the same view across the orchard.  I was there with 4 Part Music to record a CD with the Cranleigh Prep School Chamber Choir.   It wasn’t autumn, but rather an early summer morning.  I felt somewhat nostalgic as I walked under the old conker tree outside the chapel and glanced around.   The school had undergone considerable changes since my time, and the inside of the main building was almost unrecognisable.   But outside it was the same.  The orchard was still there, the tranquility of ‘Top Pitch’ was just as mesmerizing  and the chapel dominating all from its position at the top of the hill.

When I was at school I remember being told that “School days are the best days of your life”.  I never believed this at the time, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure I believe it now.  But, on the whole, certainly looking back through rose tinted glasses, they were good days. So to all the school children out there starting their first full week back at school, I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy the autumn term!


About the Author – Jules Addison is a Director of 4 Part Music who will be spending the majority of the Autumn term recording CDs in Primary Schools all over the UK.

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