I recently signed up to the Brighton Chamber Book Club and am subsequently reading ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History’ by Rutger Bregman. In the dark days of December, with the spectre of COVID still looming and a sharp, seasonal nip in the air, ‘Humankind’ offers a welcome dose of optimism. Bregman sets out what he calls a “radical idea”, arguing that, despite what we hear in the news, and what we may read in the history books, “most people deep down, are pretty decent”. Bregman presents us with countless examples to prove his hypothesis: far from being one evolutionary step away from savagery and violence, players in “a war of all against all”, our default is to be kind – kindness and collaboration are the essence of what it means to be human.
Bregman would do well to add Brighton Girls to his list of case studies. The evidence here is overwhelming.
Take the PTFA, for example. They’ve declared war on COVID. COVID may have cancelled the Christmas Fair for the second year running, but it has done nothing to diminish the enthusiasm of the Brighton Girls Parent Teacher & Friends Association, AKA the Kindness Army. We’ve seen an explosion of creativity from the co-chairs, and it seems the fair is set to happen by stealth. With the Health & Safety brigade watching closely, they’ve resorted to guerrilla tactics: a plan to infiltrate the Senior school using Christmas hampers is being executed with military precision; under the cover of Christmas Jumper Day next Friday, pop-up stalls will appear outside the Vicarage, meaning the mountain of teddies will finally find a home and the chocolate tombola can do its worst.
The Prep Nativity, which took place yesterday, was another case in point. It started with a salvo of smiles and waves, as cast members scanned the audience for relatives (by which point the Sixth Formers watching at the back were already in tears). ‘Whoops-a-Daisy Angel’ was another triumph over adversity. As Mrs Comerford pointed out, they were “a snowflake and a shepherd down”; the eponymous heroine, Whoops-a-Daisy herself, had joined the dress rehearsal via Google Meet. Yet, what a show! Bombarded by brilliance, pummelled by cuteness, we left with our hearts warmed and our spirits cheered.
The week started with Hanukkah celebrations, where guests Winston and Doris from the Brighton & Hove Jewish Representative Council joined members of our Faith Council to deliver a virtual assembly. In a fantastic short film created by Year 7 students, Florence and Zara, we heard what Hanukkah means to the Jewish community, and the abiding message here was one of togetherness and of the importance of family.
So kindness and collaboration have been the book ends to another busy week at Brighton Girls. I suspect my repeated message about kindness is about to be viciously lampooned in the upcoming Sixth Form entertainment, but I am armed and ready.
I’ll take my copy of ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History’ to act as a shield.