It has been one of those endless swirls of fatigue and the refusal to sleep. Of [high] tension [lines] and mis-directed thoughts as men with suits swamp corridors and judge. It has not been one to relish. And in between all that a daughter growing older with cakes and ponies – so much more real than ideological battles over assessments and attainment.
When I was younger – and was schooled rather than running tings. I rushed heady into the exam period with a fevered joy that Summer lay ahead and I was coming of age – a more positive Kes you could say. I still had an anorak but no bird of prey. There had been a soundtrack to my waking and dreaming hours that had got me through good times and bad – and those periods of indiscriminate nothingness that teenagers have.
I once had a photograph taken with a bootlace tie and my Rock n Roll singles – Paul took one of his Adam and the Ants 45s. A passion he and now my children have today – not taking photographs but Adam Ant. So it will come as no surprise that I had rituals and ways of getting things done.
I would play the same song before every exam. It helped like that. These simple rituals and superstitions. I am an athesist – I have no belief in a God – or an afterlife – but I do get reassured by ritual. It makes no difference – what difference does it make? I had rearranged the ‘dining room’ – sounds grand but it wasn’t – fold out table, sideboard, redundant chairs and nets at the window – into where I would do my revision. I was revising – learning stuff to pass examinations – it’s how you get ahead [I couldn’t get ahead] and I would secrete myself behind the door – fold out table part folded out and work through notes and ideas and thrust myself back into lessons and learning.
Music [and girls] provided the breaks in study. I would let myself play a Sea Urchins song or a Mary Chain screech to satisfy the rebellious spirit I had sort to engender along the final months of the fifth year. I have seen photographs from those final years – it’s as if the teachers felt the weight of the very steel of the town and simply allowed us to be who we wanted – to give us an out. Not regiment and force our compliance – rather let us be – whilst singing words of wisdom from the old wooden desks at the front – let it be. Revision was punctuated by sun and walks and songs and words. It’s what gets me through the day these days. I wasn’t really viewing the revision as a means of acquiring the stuff I needed to answer the papers rather as a reason to treat myself to a tune.
And before each exam I would take the trusted walkman – I think it was a Boots one – it recorded as well -and play Handsome Devil so that Morrissey would ‘help me get through my exams’. Marr direct guitar matching the bursts of knowledge stored in my brain – all ready to come tumbling out in ink and showed workings when I sat at those lonely seats with just me and the paper and pen in my pocket. This tradition continued through my A-levels and most possible my degree – but I was wrapped up in fog and fury by that time.
But I still had my walkman.
There is more to life than books you know – but not much more.