From teenage years onwards, I’ve been a bit of a fan of Shakespeare. When I was fortunate enough as an adult to be in various theatre productions of his work, that early appreciation developed into boundless admiration as I was drawn deeper into his wisdom and gained further insights into his extraordinary stagecraft. There is, for me, no one to touch the Bard! As an example of how extensive his influence on British (and indeed western) thought generally has been, I can tell you that, of the 588 pages of my “Oxford Dictionary of Quotations”, a full 75 pages are given over to quotes from Shakespeare. That is the measure of his importance and the impact he’s had on our language.
I found myself thinking about Shakespeare, when the phrase “parting is such sweet sorrow” came to mind (a line of Juliet’s from “Romeo and Juliet”). And I was thinking about that line, when I was thinking about leaving Norbury. I wrote at greater length in last month’s magazine about moving on (Brenda and I personally, and in life generally). But in this shorter piece, I simply wanted to share my feeling that parting from Norbury will indeed be sweet sorrow. Sorrow because it will be hard to say goodbye to so many people we have shared so much with over the last ten years. It will be like leaving a family. But sweet too, precisely because we will take so many marvellous memories and relationships with us. “Sweet sorrow” captures the paradox of the moment. There are many such moments in life.
When we first arrived at Norbury, we might well have said, quoting Miranda in “The Tempest”: “O brave new world, that hath such people in’t!”. Now it’s time to say, quoting Prospero in the same play: “Our revels now are ended”. Here at least! Thank you all for ten very special years. God bless you richly in the years to come.