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A picture of 3 pancakes with berries

The pandemic has produced many surprises, few of them entirely pleasant, but this week our pandemic brought us pancakes, and for this I am very grateful. The socially distanced queue of Southies who waited patiently for their pancake was a delight to behold. The pancakes themselves brought additional revelations.

Richard Freeman is a truly excellent pancake chef and could, if required, make a good living in any French village or market square provided only that he learns to call them crêpes and the strawberries les fraises. Phil Smith, our food and Beverage Service Manager, has a fine stock of cooking equipment in the boot of his car. Lynn Preston’s impressive skills with sugar, Nutella, lemon juice and strawberries confirmed that our excellent Assistant Principal is versatile as well as brilliant. I regret that Oswald did not eat one. Indeed, his response to my suggestion that he should try a pancake was wooden to the point of recalcitrance. Steven tells me that he did later confide an interest in trying one filled with freshly slaughtered field mice. Plainly nobody was prepared to provide such ingredients.   did not eat one. The struggle to lose weight has taken me so long that I am resolute in my determination to avoid all snacks, no matter how tempting, but I am immensely grateful to the pancake team.

In other news, the Secretary of State for Education published a white paper ‘Higher education: free speech and academic freedom’. If enacted, as I believe its key proposals will be, it will have profound consequences for university life. It reminds us that there is no right not to be offended. Mr Williamson writes that ‘There are some in our society who prioritise “emotional safety” over free speech or who equate speech with violence. This is both misguided and dangerous.’ Watch this space. Or, as John Milton wisely put it in Areopagitica (1644): ‘Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.’ I would add only J.S. Mill’s ‘...the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error’. (On Liberty, 1859).