Archive for May, 2006


Just testing an Abnib bug. Or so I’m told.

Oi, Doctor!

That tape was NOT betamax! Dear oh dear…

Do I look like I can be bothered to lift a finger?

Saturday, ladies and gents, saw me take the final exam of my degree, on 20th Century literature. Happily, works of more than a couple of hundred pages are out of style at the moment (unless you’re Robert Jordan, writing for Americans, or JK Rowling, writing for seven-year-olds), so I had no real trouble reading the books on Saturday morning.

(O, and can I just take this opportunity to bitchslap Sam Selvon, author of ‘The Lonely Londoners’ for writing what would otherwise be a perfectly acceptable tale of the lives of West Indian immigrants to London in the 50s entirely in a crude approximation of Carribean dialect.

Firstly, I’m not made more sympathetic to the plight of people living in a vagueish culture of racism by their trotting about speaking like the Black and White Minstrels, and secondly it’s not especially West Indian. To prove this point, I read through the entire second half in a corny Dudley accent, and it didn’t really make me strain the words. That’s because saying “He get on bus” and “Every fella he look for a work jus soon as he in London” can be read as being West Indian, West Midlands or West Country. Don’t write dialect. It doesn’t actually sound like you think you write it.

Thirdly, it’s a pain in the arse to read, dammnit! Put some bloody commas in, and stop using sentences that go “I need a work Gallahad say Moses say yes you need a work and then I got up and then I brushed my teeth and then I went to school and I said morning miss hilton and she said morning class and then I went to assembly and…”




Feeble West Indian attempts to make all West Indians sound like Jar Jar Binks aside, that exam was the last of my degre. Woo. See me care.

Er. Or not.

I probably should care, of course; thirty years ago people coming to the end of their Finals would be overjoyed at finally gaining some species of truly hefty qualification.

As it is, I’ve been taking exams every summer since 1995 (KS2 SATS, 1st & 2nd year exams at AGS, KS3 SATS, mock GCSEs, real GCSEs, pointless AS-es and genuine A-levels calling themselves A2s, 1st year Aber exams, 2nd year Aber exams, and my final exam of the past eleven years, 20th Century Literature.

Quite frankly, I’m years past the stage where I cared about exams – at Primary School, SATs were really imporant, and were, I was told, going to “make the difference of what set I was in at secondary school,” a comment made almost entirely superflous by the fact I’d passed the 11-plus by then, and wasn’t going to be streamed until GCSEs.

Then, somehow, KS3 SATs became really important (which, if true, would’ve been a crying shame, since I got an inexplicable 7 for Science, and only a 5 for English. That, of course, was before I wrote science off as a bad lot; I used to be fairly interested in it).

GCSEs rolled up shortly after, in a blaze of mock exams in Year 10, and year 11, and then the real things, and they were really *really* important because, we were told, because GCSEs were things on which basis people give you a work.

[see how annoying that it?]

…On which basis people give you a work, that is… unless you do AS levels.

Which, ditto, unless you do A2s, and go to university.

Frankly, I’ve spent an entire decade doing exams on a bare minimum of an annual basis, and since 2000 every bloody January and every bloody summer, and it’s long since past the point at which I could work up and interest, or, God forbid, apprehension, at the prospect.

Sure, when I did the 11-plus I was dead nervous, and again when KS3 SATs happened, and we all filled into the school Gym in dead silence, walked over the noise-dampening tarps as quietly as possible, and sat at tiny half-size desks trying not to breathe too loud in case they called it cheating…

But come on; I was that nervous in 1999. You can’t expect me to still be on edge when I walk into the great hall, looking for an equally half-size desk that’s not too near the door for me to feel a draft, and yet close enough that I don’t look a wally when I get bored and leave half an hour early to have a hot chocolate with Paul.

Taking exams is like taking hard drugs, as far as I can tell. To begin with, you’re dead nervous, you don’t know what it’s going to be like, you get a real buzz, and you pray you’re not going to make a real mess of it, and look stupid in front of all your mates…

…and then, eleven years later… It’s the same old thing, frankly, and you’re doing it half-heartedly; not in the manner of Heroin, because you need to, but in the manner of methadone, because you’re told to. And, frankly, it isn’t fun anymore, it isn’t clever, and it’s just the same old thing as it always is, with all the novelty and the rush and the excitement gone out of it…

Education is supposed to be about drawing people out, rounding out their personalities and making them interesting and intelligent people. It shouldn’t be about teaching them that exams are routine and dull, and that you pass them by chucking in a couple of quotes and saying “On the other hand” to satisfy the WJEC Assessment Objective 2 criteria you need to meet level 4 of the markscheme.

Where would be the rush in that?


So, yeah, I probably ought to do some species of blog post before I nip off and grab some books to start revision with… Five exams knocked out of the running tomorrow, by the looks of it. Not mine, which is a shame, but at least it gets it out of the way.

Incidentally, who else has noticed the neat bit of spin UWA’s slapped onto the cancelled exams thing? According to the University

“Seventy percent of exams will happen as normal”

Or, to put it another way…

“A third of the exams will have to be cancelled”

OK, so it’s actually slightly less than a third – by a piddling three percent – but I bet you they rounded up to 70% because it sounded like a reasonably big number…

So, yeah…

I really, really ought to be fretting about this exam, I suspect. Am I?

Am I predictably Hell.

Meh. Currently nosing about in the hope I can get some species of job somewhere.


Intresting times, Francis, intresting times…


I’ve been asked to put the word out about this, so I do so without an excess of further comment:

At 12 noon, tomorrow, Wednesday 10th May, there’s a protest outside the Old College in regard to the continued Industrial Action by the AUT & the consequent lack of assessment of student work.

For those of you who have minimal cause to visit the Guild website, I’d also suggest an examination of former Guild President Bec Corn’s resignation speech, which she made at the Guild GM last night.

(That, incidentally, might well explain the e-mail from Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr. John Harries, in which he declares “The situation remains very changeable and may be resolved at any time.”) Incidentally, do look out for further statements from UWA; I’m told the Press Officer is putting something together for release this afternoon.

So, yeah:

  • Protest, Old College, 12 Noon Tomorrow
  • Bec Corn resigns from Guild.
  • Theme of Protest is “Back to the Table,” or so I’m told.
  • Go on, turn up.

People not in Aber, of course, probably don’t care about this too much, and anyway, can’t make the protest. Everyone else, I’m expecting to see you there; it’s rare that Guild Politics contrives to be adrenaline-rushingly interesting; when it does we should make the most of it.

Hence: Noon tomorrow, Old College. Protest.

‘In China, I understand, it’s a curse to live in interesting times…’


Here’s a little aside for, er.

Mansbridge, who’s read up to book eight.
Statto, who may’ve read book two.
Uh. Possibly-Katherine-Bryne not that I think she knows I even have a blog, who read a few, I think…

Today’s ‘Home on the Strange’, featuring a toptastic dig at Robert ‘If I describe every leaf in the tree it’s literature’ Jordan. Ray!

(It’s entirely true, incidentally; I bailed out around book Five. I think he’s on ten now).