Today’s A level results-fest always reminds me of what happened to me… 30 years ago.
I never was the best at sitting exams.
When I did my O levels in 1983 I only passed five – well below what was expected of me – and then ignored the fact that my best mark was in French by spending the next two years trying to be a scientist. I’ve always been much better at any language than anything scientific. If I knew then what I know now… I might not have failed my As in 1985 and missed out on the chance to learn how to teach Secondary Maths at TASC.
Which was quite handy really, as I realised I don’t like kids enough to want to spend all day trying to teach the little horrors a subject I wasn’t wholly keen on myself.
So I resat, minus Further Mathematics (which was always stretching it, really).
Come the great day in August 1986 I went in to St Michaels’ College, picked up the slips of paper and saw… a B and two Es. Below what TASC had said I would need.
What was a boy to do? Go to the pub, have a few beers, play the quiz machine (nearly winning – this was the early days of pub quiz machines, where you had a decent chance and there were no questions about soaps or daytime TV). Then, with my last 50p, find a phone box on Park Row / Bond Street and call TASC to see if I was accepted. Even in those days 50p didn’t buy you much call time but just as the cash was running out they came back to me.
And a month later, my 30-year connection with TASC began.