Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms


In July, I spent a very interesting afternoon shadowing my younger brother in his work as a Garden Designer. We called in at three large houses in Golders Green and Highgate where I witnessed him dealing with contractors and clients with skill and wisdom. This was part of a commitment between my two brothers and me to spend time at each others’ place of work.

My younger brother, Andrew, visited Bickley Park last Friday to have a brief glimpse into the world of education I have inhabited for over thirty years. He had hoped to spend a little longer at the school, but was delayed in north London by a client.

These are the impressions Andrew garnered during his visit…


“To see Patrick in his working environment was fascinating for me. My big brother, who I have spent the majority of time in my life seeing through a child’s eyes, was now the Headmaster taking me on a whirlwind tour! I sat in on an appraisal, where, fresh from the M25, I had to concentrate hard on all the educational terms being used. It was a good appraisal, and I wondered what a bad one might have been like to witness!

I hadn’t seen the Pre-Prep before. I met Reception staff and teachers and teaching assistants from other parts of the department, all of whom seemed to be contributing to what appeared to be a thriving, dynamic place. Having 20 sets of eyes turned on me, when undertaking a surprise lesson observation of Mrs Wenham and her class, was disconcerting, for both observers and observed, but the ice was broken with a cheeky request from Mrs W for the Headmaster and his brother to sing Humpty Dumpty to the boys as a duet.

We returned to the Prep Department and walked through waves of boys beetling around the school grounds collecting insects. 

The visit ended near the school gate, talking to parents collecting tired boys.  Some spoke of the new Performing Arts Centre: I picked up a genuine sense of excitement and interest in the project launch. 

I think having brothers, especially ones close in age, established in Patrick an inherent understanding of what it is to be a boy and, on reflection, this is what I saw that day.”



The next stage of the process of the brothers gaining an insight into one another’s place of work, is a visit to Antwerp to witness our older brother, John, and his dealings with the diamond trade. It has proved a very worthwhile project to date and perhaps something others in the school community might try!