Trusty Servant May 2022 Issue 133

No . 133 May 2022

Porcina Ora

The departing Editor , Tim Giddings , allows himself a self-indulgent final snort as he hands over the blue pencil to Lucia Quinault :
How did you become Editor ? My predecessor , Stephen Anderson , came into my room to say that he had recommended me to the Headmaster as his replacement . Stephen was a senior authority in the shadowy group of dons who give a final proof-read to the end-of-term reports ( often to be heard in Common Room sharing their exasperation about colleagues ’ erratic capitalisation and dangling modifiers ) and I had obviously impressed him with my handling of the hyphen in adjectival phrases . He still lets me know when he finds any errors . He did 20 years ; I have only managed a meagre seven .
A physical magazine on yellow paper : is The Trusty Servant outdated ? It was started in 1956 to support a fundraising appeal , but I think it is still a very precious publication . I received a letter of complaint from an octogenarian OW , denouncing it as an archaism , a publication which no other school in his wide experience would produce , something which would put off modern parents seeking an outstanding education for their sons . He was right with one of the three : no other school could publish anything like it , because no other school has such a long and rich history to explore . No other school can produce an article about a Latin hexameter poem by an 18 th -century Poet Laureate about its own game played on its own Iron Age hill-fort . Yes , of course we want an instant connection with what is happening now . The modern housedon needs to keep up a steady flow of socialmedia posts of muddy footballers , violin soloists and pupils guzzling pizza . The school has a very smart website full of images and video . We produce a weekly multimedia-rich digital newsletter celebrating the latest news . We have a YouTube channel , an Instagram feed and many Twitter ones . But there is also room , I think , for a publication celebrating our history and recording the present with a longer-term perspective . It helps OWs feel connected to the school and gives them a place to share their achievements and memories ( do keep sending them in !). I think current and prospective parents appreciate it too .
Have you introduced any changes during your tenure ? Not many : I am not very innovative ! I introduced a new column called ‘ Vox Senum ’ to print a selection of our correspondence from readers . I wanted there to be room for OWs to share an anecdote or two about a dear departed don without needing to write a 1,200-word article . In this edition we have created a new ‘ Vale ’ column to say a proper farewell to departing dons .
Have you written much yourself ? My minimum input is to write ‘ Wiccamica ’. But I have usually written one or two other articles for each edition . I have enjoyed doing my own amateurish research in the archive ( as well as commissioning it from others ), always ably supported by Suzanne Foster , whose knowledge of the school ’ s history is encyclopedic . Nick Mackinnon said that teaching King Alfred ’ s England in MP Div made him see Anglo-Saxons when he walked through the city centre . A similar thing happens when you get immersed in the school ’ s history . I wrote an article about Robert Lowe , who had a ghastly time in Old Commoners in the 1820s , and I still visualise the floor plan of that ramshackle medieval-Georgian building when I walk through Flint Court . And I see great dons of the past stalking around , having learned about them through their obituaries . I have tried to ensure that the articles maintain some sort of balance between the centuries . The recent anniversaries of the First and Second World Wars have meant there has been rather a lot of militaria lately . There have been some complaints , but our answer is always that readers are free to send in their own articles to restore the balance !