Embarrassed that I did not master Ancient Greek, compose a symphony, or become a Yoga Guru during the first Lockdown, I was determined not to squander the last one. The thought of having to answer my grandchildren’s future queries of “What did you do during the pandemic?” with “Well, there was this thing called Netflix” spurred me into action. So, as the long Winter nights dragged by, I set about creating new worlds. Two, in fact.
One is a large wooden map of our own Earth, which now adorns the wall outside my Study. Cut from a single sheet of Oak, after first painstakingly hand-drawing the outline of every landmass, then gluing each island to the wall with tedious precision. Proof perhaps of what many suspect; that Geographers are painfully boring and need to get a life (or perhaps they just think that of me). I prefer to see it as a labour of love.
Either way, its aesthetic and symbolism make me happy. Given that our pupils come from every inhabited continent on the planet, I regard it as a map of the School’s catchment zone, reminding all who stop by just how culturally blessed we are. More than that though, it speaks of how much we share, regardless of where we call home. The grain of the Oak runs seamlessly through every nation, ignoring borders, knowing only that the Earth is one. That is as true for its people as it is for the land.
My other act of Creation was the building of three new beehives for the School’s Beekeeping Club. Dreaming of a lifetime supply of free honey in return, the aim was to construct the hive Hilton. As an apiarian architect though, I first had to do some research into the lives of my little winged tenants before I could build them a perfect world. Colonies thrive in a natural, non-toxic habitats, so I worked with untreated Cedar this time. Then there was the bewildering cultural milieu to accommodate. Bees of every creed and kind. Workers, drones, guards, nurses, foragers, janitors, even undertaker bees. Yet only the Queen is visibly different to the eye. Such rich social diversity. Yet in the end, they are all just…bees. None richer or poorer than any other. None marginalised nor maligned. All living purposeful, industrious lives, safe in communal allegiance. Despite differing social roles, in a hive, all are equal.
Now that lockdowns are behind us and we are at last reunited, I have hung up the planet-making tools and packed away my delusions of omnipotence. Yet as I pass the map and hives each day, there remains in the Cedar and Oak a poignant reminder of what we should strive to create in our own Bromsgrovian world.
Recognition that all peoples inhabit the same globe, and that they share so much more in common than not. Awareness that differing social roles and cultural practices ought to bind, not divide us. Acceptance that every community is strengthened by diversity. And realization that we were created to inhabit a natural world, not a toxic one.
If lockdown reminded me of the joy to be celebrated in simply recognising our common humanity, the return of the School once again has confirmed it.
To watch the hives being assembled click on this link: Bee Hives