Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do not write on both sides of the paper at once

While we're on the subject of exams, an e-mail from my mother, and a comment from the fragrant Marsha Klein ("...due to boredom or lack of time..."), both in response to the post from a few days back about The Unconsoled, prompted me to recall my English Language O-level composition paper.

The prescribed theme was 'A scene of destruction', and I endeavoured to depict the aftermath of the sort of party to which I never seemed to get invited at the time, with comatose, semi-clad women sprawled among the spilt beer, scratched records, charred soft furnishings and ground-in cheesy footballs. I rather suspect the whole thing had been inspired by the TV adaptation of Malcolm Bradbury's The History Man, which I'd loved a couple of years before, and not just for the bosoms, and I rather hoped that university life would turn out to be like that, with elements of The Young Ones and Brideshead Revisited thrown in for good measure. (You know what? It bloody was, and all.)

So, in a way, my essay was a dream sequence of sorts, and my chosen ending was a heavy-handed variation on the cliché: 'I' (the narrator) surveyed the scene for several pages, then remembered I had to be somewhere, ran for the bus, and very shortly afterwards found myself in the exam room, confronted by an O-level composition paper, wondering through a fug of cheap cider what on earth I was going to write about... oh, you fill in the blanks...

PS: And this is how to respond to a dumping.


Jun Okumura said...

That's a very nice way of saying Marsha has been eating beans, Tim.

Christopher said...

Nice opening quote from 1066 and all that.

You must have had an enlightened O level exam board.

We had 'Describe a sporting event in which you did well'. I've never played better, taking a double hat-trick against Richie Benaud's Australians.

I still passed.

Geoff said...

I was always pissed off there wasn't an English Language A-Level.

Billy said...

A metafictional exam paper. Wow.

I can't remember what I wrote about for my English exams. I remember thinking some of it was quite good though.

Tim F said...

They're good for your heart, Jun, or so I was always led to believe.

Just you wait, Christopher, I'll try to slip in a Molesworth in the very near future.

There is, Geoff! Blimey, they'll be inventing diaries you can put on the internet next.

Metafiction indeed, Billy, four years before I first heard the word.