A wasted year, apart from Miss Cockayne

It didn’t take long for Juicy Adams to realise that I’d slipped through his interview net, one morning I was handed a note by a tutor that simply read “see me in my office, immediately, signed Juicy Adams” so I went to see him.

“I see you slipped through my interview net Laddie” is how he started, there is no answer to that statement which will not sound sarcastic so I simply nodded my agreement for surely he was correct, I had slipped through his interview net, more fool him.

“I’m not happy” he continued “not happy at all, for a start you’re only taking two subjects”

I nodded my agreement again, this was all true, I could not disagree with the man so far.

“Thats only one and a half days tuition a week” he noted, “we can’t allow that, you must take some more subjects, pick some now” and he shoved a list of O and A level subjects across the desk at me, the message being that he wasn’t bothered particularly about what I did as long as I did something to cover his arse after slipping through his interview net.

I ignored the A level list, two was enough for me, but picked Maths and Human Biology O levels, Maths because my grade from last year was rubbish, actually it was the lowest grade that the examiners were allowed to give without declaring you an imbecile, and Human Biology because I knew someone who was also taking the course with a medical future in mind (all of my fellow pupils had made their subject choices with a career in mind) and he said that you got to see some filth during the human reproduction part of the course, sounded good to me.

Juicy Adams was slightly pacified by having me in school for a couple more hours a week and dismissed me with a wave of his hand and I began my disaster year in the sixth form, I say “year” in the singular because of course most people have to do two years in the sixth form, I only did one, well not even one really, before the academic year was complete I would be gone, as predicted by Juicy Adams.

There was no doubt that I was simply turning up and passing time during that year at A level, I had no interest in Human Biology at all, not a flicker and I soon stopped going to the lectures, Maths was actually easy the second time around mainly because in those days of yore Maths tended to stick to a very rigid curriculum and basically you were on the same course again, I hadn’t listened to any of it the first time around but it was all rather familiar the second time.

Geography was a doddle, they only taught three topics per year, geology was taken by the head of Geography, the drunkard Sam Rice, a Leslie Phillips look-alike with a similar charming manner with the ladies and if Sam Rice ever said “Well hello” then you just knew he’d say “WELL Hellll-lloooo” in a Leslie Phillips stylee, unfortunately his career at Leeds Modern would come to an abrupt end just one year after mine when he got the curriculum mixed up and the year I was in sat their A levels armed with information that just wasn’t included in the actual exam.

The study of the geology and culture of Scandinavia was taught by a woman so old that she had probably been an eye witness to the fjords rising from the sea, she had not the first idea of how to teach boys as she was a hanger-on from when her half of the school had been girls-only and her lessons consisted of us sitting around talking to each other while she rambled on from the front of the class rather like your aged great-aunt would over a pot of tea and some scones, I don’t honestly think she taught anyone anything at all.

Miss Cockayne was the only thing worth going to Geography lectures for, ah dear Miss Cockayne…

…sorry, where were we.

I can’t even remember what exciting parts of the geography course she taught, suffice to say that she was fresh out of teacher training college, was curved in all the right areas and wore tight blue woollen jumpers and tight blue jeans  to emphasise the point that her curves were all in the right places, she was blond with that “sturdy girl” look, a love of the outdoors, of map reading and nights in a pub and thenceforth under canvas, she haunted all of our dreams, we were seventeen, what can I say, she was worth doing the otherwise wasted year for.

The lovely Miss Cockayne had a suitor though, a maths teacher known to all as Cuthbert for that was his name, Mr Cuthbert, another one just released from teacher training college he too had studied at the Leslie Phillips school of charm and for all intents and purposes could have been the love child of Sam Rice. Cuthbert was a mustachioed lothario who woo’ed and courted our lovely Miss Cockayne despite our intentional slurs on his character during her lectures,

“He’s married you know” we’d say to each other, loud enough to be heard from the lectern
“Who is ?” we’d reply in mock curiosity
“That Cuthbert”
“Oh yeah, Cuthbert, I know, I saw him in Leeds with his eight kids on Saturday”
“Been divorced twice too”
“Not surprised, he’s a right bastard with the women so I’ve heard”

And she’d sit at her desk with one ear tuned in our direction unsure as to whether to believe this gossip, innocent to our subterfuge, unknowing of our lust for her curvy forms, unaware that the only reason that 90% of the male content of her class was present was her, if the elderly Scandinavian expert teacher had taken Miss Cockaynes place then I’d have dropped geography like a hot stone.

Later in the first year we all went on a geography field trip to Cornwall for a week, us all, Sam Rice, the lovely Miss Cockayne, and, by complete coincidence surely, Cuthbert, Cuthbert the Maths teacher on a geography field trip, something not quite right there surely, Cuthbert the Maths teacher and Miss Cockayne occupying rooms on the same landing of the tawdry guest house that we stayed in, our dreams were dashed, our subterfuges rumbled, the lovely Miss Cockayne had surely been deflowered by the dashing Cuthbert, what a bastard eh?


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