Today saw one of the most joyous events in The Abbey School calendar: House Music and Drama (HMAD) at the Senior School.

It is simple enough to describe. The entire Senior School spends the day in the Richards Hall. Each of the four houses stages a show and performs it to the rest of the school. There is poetry, drama, comedy, music, dance, gymnastics. There is exuberance and silliness and laughter, moments of pathos and piercing beauty, moments of illuminating wit.

What makes the event so special is the complete ownership of students. They act and perform and play; but they also plan, direct, choreograph, compose, orchestrate, conduct. And for the House Captains who take the lead, and other performers in Upper Sixth, they do all this while managing the little business of applying to university at the same time.

The shows are impressive by any measure. As examples of student leadership and organisation, creativity and teamwork, they dazzle.

During this whirlwind day, full of energy and spark, I was reminded of two of my favourite literary quotations. Both initially seem pretty dark (that’s an English teacher for you), and neither seems to have much to do with dance and song! The first is Truman Capote’s observation that the reason most people get up in the morning is ‘not because it would matter [if they didn’t] but because it wouldn’t’. Life would just go on without us: the world would not stop.

The second seems even worse, and starker: Leonard Woolf’s favourite melancholy phrase – ‘Nothing matters’.

However, despite appearances, there is something magical in both these sentiments: something that relates to the fierce bursts of joy on stage today. Both provoke us to act. Both challenge us to face down and defy despair: to live all the more brightly, to dance and sing, to cherish and make the most of all that we have, because in doing that we create meaning and beauty and purpose.

Towards the end of his life Leonard Woolf made this meaning explicit: he amended his mantra to ‘Nothing matters, and everything matters’. At difficult times in the world the truth of this statement is all the more apparent and powerful.

Caught up for today in the fun and glory of young people making something wonderful out of nothing, and celebrating each other’s hard work and commitment, one thought was so clear above all: this matters. The passion, talent and effort on show today matter. Every single student, and the futures they weave so brightly through every choice they make: they really, really matter. We are so proud of them all.

George Morton, Deputy Head