The news item is about the failure of Brits to learn other languages (witness the response of the natives of Basildon in the piece when addressed in French!). My contribution comes in at 3.00 and lasts for 25 seconds.
I’m guessing, but I think that is one reason why videos of schools are popular. Delving into somebody’s web site can be difficult in another language (when did you last look for something on a Chinese site? or even a German one?) but seeing pupils/students in a school, their staff and their buildings in action, even if you don’t understand everything they say, can create a strong impression.
And if the thesis is correct, and there are people who want to make video a part of their review process, it is not efficient for them to search through non-standardised and usually monoglot school sites to see if there’s a video there. That is the thinking behind our new site UK school videos. If the viewer is interested by the video, there is a simple link to the client web site, so the site is in effect a video portal for boarding schools and language schools.
It’s still very early days but we have excellent results from Yahoo and Google, and some of the videos on the site have already been watched there several hundred times. So far approximately 10% of views result in clicks through to the school site.
For the second time this year I have had the pleasure of reading a book written by someone I count as a friend. Knowing the author of a book, particularly when the book is very personal, adds an extra dimension because you can seek and find the person you know in the telling, and enjoy finding your perceptions nuanced and enriched. Nic Ridley’s book “Godfrey’s Ghost – from father to son” is a great deal more, however, than a book to be read by his friends. At one level it is a book for a single reader, his son Christopher. At another it is a book for us all. At one level it is a biography of man who made his career as a playwright and actor, but who also fought in two world wars and who saw both triumph and disaster, personally and financially. At another it is an exploration of the father-son relationship, as well as a relentless self-examination, and even a philosophical odyssey.
Nic Ridley’s father was Arnold Ridley, celebrated as a young man as author of “The Ghost Train”, and in his old age and in the 25 years since his death as Private Godfrey in the hugely successful series “Dad’s Army”. For his son Christopher, Nic wants to separate the man from the actor, and more specifically from the benign, acquiescent, bumbling, geriatric part of Godfrey, which to this day he can see on his television screen almost any week of the year. In telling his father’s story, and in his quest for the true depiction of his character, Nic also turns the microscope quite ruthlessly on himself, not sparing the anger, the selfishness, or the harshness, while not obscuring his tenderness, his deep sense of loyalty towards, and love of, his family, which are also woven into his quest. This book is a fascinating construct, an engrossing story, a moving and intimate examination of family, and will be an enduring record of a man who treated “those two impostors just the same”. And it is quite beautifully written. In this respect, as in so many others, the author is his father’s son.
I hope Nic won’t mind if I mention here my own father. After he died in 1985, I found a handwritten poem in his desk which I add below because it touches on a part of the relationship between fathers and sons.
Visiting here by chance It comes back to me that forty years ago We came here, my father and I. He told me much as we looked At the spire and the altar But I was listening to other voices. We enjoyed our day but, driving back Over the wolds in that evening of late March, He must have felt a little sad The sadness of all fathers, And I a little impatient, The impatience of all sons To be back at their own affairs. Now, if I could meet him on these steps, With his smile of greeting, I could understand so easily what he was getting at And, two old men, We should go into the church together.