Its lost in the mists of time, the day that I received my O levels results – O levels, the equivalent of todays GCSE’s, well sort of.
In truth less than 50% of pupils took O levels, most of them being already sidetracked into secondary education where the exam of choice was the CSE, in truth your cat could probably bag himself a handful of CSE’s, writing your name without having to ask a teacher to help was sufficient to gain an English CSE.
Our Ned was sidetracked into secondary education because he was not as intelligent as I, its something he doesn’t like to talk about, its something I like to talk about, I can’t help but notice that I am far more intelligent than he and so I remind him constantly.
At my Grammar School, the school for elite scholars, the school that you had to pass an extremely difficult exam at the age of 11 to enter, the exam that I passed with one mark to spare, it was unheard of for any pupil to take a CSE exam for CSE exams were for the school for thick kids down the road – that would be the school that Ned attended then.
So it was with some surprise that I surprised both my French master and my Physics master by informing them that I wished to take the much easier CSE route for their subjects, such shame on their teaching careers but I insisted and so it came to pass that on a warm summers morning in 1973 I sat in a classroom with an independent assessor for my French oral exam, for they did not bother to test your written French ability at CSE, I knew what I was doing when I insisted on this exam you see.
“Bonjour” said the independent French examiner
“Bonjour” I replied and the independent French examiner looked at Trampus Shaw our French master and nodded “He’s good”
“Comment allez-vous ?” said the independent French examiner
“Bien” I replied
“Congratulations” said the independent French examiner, “You’ve passed, grade one, the best we’ve had by far”
And so on to the Physics CSE and high expectations of gaining another grade one pass in the subject that I hated more than any other subject – I failed it.
Failed a CSE exam, I know, such shame.
But for the O levels I gained five, from memory Art, Geography, English, and erm, some more, I’ve never been asked to prove that I passed those exams, didn’t need them to gain employment, DID need physics to get onto a college course sponsored by my first employer but I lied about that and was never asked to prove it, and so the letter advising of my exam results was opened, perused and then flung aside to be saved by my mother and hidden away until we cleared their house out twenty-odd years later – then I threw it away.
You might say that I don’t value examination results too highly, you’d be right, I’ve employed several school leavers during my time of running my business and never asked any of them for their exam results, being more interested in whether they were interested in doing the job or not, ok so some disasters ensued, like the two young girls that my dad employed who were supposed to be looking after the accounts and couldn’t understand the concept of VAT at all, I mean not even the aspect of it that said “You add 15% to the sale price” without greeting you with a completely blank face and a “What?”, but they were easily sacked a few minutes later.