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Landor Association Lecture 2022 - Catherine Bott

We are so grateful to Catherine Bott who, less than two and a half hours after coming off air at Classic FM in London, came into King’s High to deliver our sixth Landor lecture on Wednesday 19 January 2022.

Guests, including past and present parents, staff and governors, plus current pupils and King’s High girls from an earlier vintage, enjoyed wine and canapés, and were entertained by musical selections from talented pupils Hannah and Krista, plus the no-less-talented music staff, Mr Laing and Ms Cozens. Head Master Dr Burley was delighted to welcome everyone back into school for a live event, and explained how the Landor Association brought together people from all areas of the King’s High and Warwick Prep communities.

The Lecture from this distinguished King High Old Girl had sage advice, humour, and fun. The negativity of the ideal world presented on social media and the unfairness of past rules to women and the LGBTQ community were all ‘called out’, in modern parlance. In fact, in the Lecture Catherine made reference to over four dozen current buzzwords like ‘woke’, ‘Karens’ and ‘snowflakes’, deconstructing them all and urging the rising generation to get out there and take risks.  The difficulties of school life under the oppressive regimes of the 1960s and 1970s, the hellishness of imposter syndrome in British radio, and ‘activism versus clicktivism’ were all covered.

Although speaking to encourage the current student body at King’s High, Catherine alluded to her own personal development. Reading a book about Hiroshima and working out that she was born less than ten years after its horrors was, for Catherine, ‘the moment history became real.’ She stressed that jargon must not cut across thinking for oneself, and was sure that King’s High girls were able to work this out. We learned of the UK’s perceived differences between BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM, and why Barry Manilow was one of Catherine’s favourite cultural experiences of one particular year, for there should be no such thing as a guilty pleasure.

Catherine’s advice to the King’s High student body was to ‘be braver!’ Don’t glue your hands to a train to stop people going to work; become a scientist! Girls can do anything! Head out there and enjoy yourselves – together.

Landor prefect Maud led a Question and Answer session with questions sent in from the floor. We learned of one of Catherine’s proudest career moments was bringing Bach to the many and varied ‘residents’ of Brixton Prison (complete with the Radio 3 banner urging the listeners to ‘Escape to Bach’, which perhaps wasn’t the best advice to give to prisoners!), that career rejection need not be taken personally, and that in spite of a career in classical music, Catherine still loves the music of Randy Newman, The Who, The Beatles and Sparks.

A vote of thanks given by Landor President and fellow Old Girl Clare Sawdon mentioned the delight of the audience in hearing Catherine Bott’s wise words, and Maud presented Catherine with a charming bouquet in appreciation. Plaudits from the audience swiftly followed.  Current pupils ‘thoroughly enjoyed the talk’, and a current parent said that Catherine’s Lecture was ‘full of warmth, humour, perception, and a little bit of mischief!  What a wonderful template for an old King’s High pupil.’

Thank you so much, Catherine.

Click here to watch a recording of the lecture: