Portsmouth Point reports a surge in readership this summer.

This summer, a survey revealed that, since lockdown began, people in the UK have almost doubled the amount of time they spend reading books. During this same period, the Portsmouth Point blog has experienced a similar surge in readership. And, by 3rd July (at the time of writing this), the blog published its 375th article of the year (exceeding the total number of articles published in the whole of 2019 (285), 2018 (279) and 2017 (364).

For nearly a decade, the Portsmouth Point blog has offered PGS pupils, parents and staff the opportunity to share ideas, experiences and opinions with other members of the school community on a daily basis. We are therefore delighted that during this period of remote learning so many members of that community have used the blog to share their experiences and reflect on every conceivable aspect of the crisis (whether medical, political, environmental, artistic, historical, psychological or philosophical).

And, of course, contributors have continued to explore a dizzying range of other interests, from the politics of heavy metal to the joys of vegetable gardening, from the sublimity of glaciated landscapes to the joys of binge-watching ‘Gossip Girl’, from Cold War to ‘Scone Wars’. In addition, we have been delighted to mark significant events such as the International Day of the Nurse and Midwife (on Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday) and the 75th anniversary of VE Day with contributions from pupils, parents, grandparents, OPs and staff.

At the end of June, editors held a multi-location Garden Party to celebrate the launch of the latest issue of Portsmouth Point magazine (theme: ‘Mirror’) – from an in-person (but socially distanced) celebration in Neil Blewett's Memorial Garden at PGS to gardens and sitting rooms all over Hampshire and Sussex. The ‘Mirror’ issue of Portsmouth Point includes 27 thought-provoking articles on a whole range of subjects, from diversity in the workplace to the economic impact of the pandemic, from ‘Black Mirror’ to 1950s Italian motor sport, the music of Thelonious Monk, the mysteries of epigenetics and the disappointing nature of so many contemporary politicians. Clearly, lockdown has not stymied PGS pupils’ creativity, curiosity or commitment in the slightest; they have continued to observe and reflect upon the world in which they live with intellectual independence and critical intelligence. The inventive and conceptual cover images are by Benedict Blythe (Year 11).

Finally, Portsmouth Point is delighted to have worked with the School’s Archivist, John Sadden, and so many contributors (from Junior School pupils aged 4 to OPs aged 90) to compile and publish ‘We Are PGS’, an online account of how pupils, parents, grandparents, OPs and staff have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic, from Arizona to Australia, Portsmouth to Prague. As Dr Cotton notes in her introduction to ‘We Are PGS’: “There are vivid memories of past crises, poignant celebrations of NHS and care workers, fascinating reflections on the social and cultural implications of the pandemic, and wonderful accounts of the efforts people have made, collectively and individually, to entertain and support one another and their communities from home and in school.”

Certainly, it has been a year like no other (and we are barely half way through!), but Portsmouth Point has been glad to offer, throughout, a shared platform for discussion and debate, reflection and respite.