Concordia Winter 2023

The Art of Reporting

Aim High came and went. They gave the reports a far more professional “look and feel” and furnished far more statistical data that repaid analysis, but there was a loss too: less ownership, less personal voicing, and a far greater percentage of homogenised comment. The ease with which a report could be overwritten further up the food–chain meant that even the smallest stylistic flourishes tended to get nuked. We began to self-censor comments that were once par for the course lest they be thought indefensible: it was barely worth the hassle; and courtesy of League Tables and Inspection, the chill presence of Gradgrind began to be felt in the corridors, and that sense of fun and play, which I had particularly valued in making an unpalatable truth more digestible, fell out of favour. In the last few years, several OMTs

have been in touch to ask for copies of their reports. They are parents now, of course, and the single rejoinder they come back with every time is, "You'd never get away with that these days". That is certainly true and probably it is all for the best, yet whenever I read their words, the lines of Antony and Cleopatra (that I taught so often during those years) echo in my mind: “Come, let's have one other gaudy night: call to me all my sad captains; fill our bowls once more”; and in that spirit, I offer, in lieu of a conclusion, some final gobbets from the reports of that time: “Somewhat untypically, he attacked his coursework with outstanding enthusiasm. (Its working title is, ‘Stereotypical presentations of women in FHM magazine’)”. “He is prone to over-confidence (one sometimes suspects that were God the Father to invite God the Son over for dinner, he feels that he would make rather a good third)”. “His writing has all the subtlety of Hugh Grant on Hollywood Boulevard”. “I still congratulate myself on my prescience in forbidding the visual aids he so ingratiatingly requested to use that he might better clinch his argument about vigorous hormonal development in the adolescent male”. “His examination answer was blandly minimal, much like the Yorkshireman If these phrases have no place in the reports of today, then let them at least serve here, if not as madeleines, then at least as ‘Rich Teas’ dunked in the moment, scribbles in the sand from a more irreverent age; hopefully, they will rekindle memories for some of you of those golden years at Sandy Lodge, which – for many of the masters as well as for the boys – were the happiest days of their lives. who when asked how to get to Vladivostok replied, ‘Turn right at t’lights’”.


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