It was the 17th of April and a brilliantly sunny day outdoors. I was inside the dingy Keon Park Calligraphy Centre attempting my ‘Careful, It’s Calligraphy’ theory exam for the third time.
Calligraphy was all the rage at the time, due to the recent release of an experimental album by local pop star David Finkle: ‘Courtesy, Crustaceans and Calligraphy’ so the majority of my peers, seemingly overnight, had become extremely polite, reeked of crab meat and took a ridiculously long time to sign their names upon entering the exam, which resulted in us losing 40 minutes of exam time because The Examiner wanted to get home in time to watch repeats of ‘Red Dwarf.’ I was furious. (Although I did greatly admire and was constantly distracted by his ‘Red Dwarf’ replica jumpsuit.)
I was not a humongous fan of the current testing system, which involved each of the 113 pupils being plugged into polygraph machines; with questions and answers played to us on cassette*. Students were required to state aloud, ‘I did know that answer’, ‘I did not know that answer’ or 'I did not hear that answer'* accordingly, which was supported or opposed by the polygraph test.
Q: Which winter-themed stroke should be used to complete the hook on a Roman F?
A: A downward toboggan stroke. Remember to wear a scarf and bring enough money for the chairlift.
The Quiet Calligraphy Centre quickly evolved into the Big Echoey Mess Of Monotone Voices Centre, and by the end of it all mine was croaky and faint, with my 28th ‘I did not hear that answer’ sounding as though I had aged sixty years. I glanced at my reflection in the beads of sweat on the head of the gentleman in front of me, only to reveal that I had in fact aged sixty years and The Examiner was deceased. It was a very long exam.
Thankfully, I was merely a twinkle in the local accordion player’s eye at exam commencement, so I left the joint with still a few good years left in me and a fabulous ‘Red Dwarf’ replica jumpsuit. The Bruised Bananas were playing that night at The Pub That’s In Need Of A Scrub, so I went along for a jive.
*Cheap headphones were provided.