Thursday, 15 August 2013

A-Level Results Day!

I can remember my A-level results day very well; it was like today a sunny but cloudy day and it was one of the most nerve-racking of my life as it will be for those today opening up the envelopes.

The actual preparation for results was as daunting as the result days itself. I needed an AABB to get into my chosen University of Durham and I was skirting pretty close to the wire with ABBB on my predicted results based on previous module outcomes; I could not therefore be sure and needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat!

I had been pretty shrewd in advance of perhaps not securing the needed result. I used my sport background; I fenced for the South East region under 18’s to get a sports sponsored place at University which I thought gave me leverage given the University was amongst the best in the country for training. I at that stage in my life had every intention of continuing my sport at University level; this subsequently changed when I discovered other aspects of myself including an interest in politics and partners (as I call it!). I had also done an S-level in Geography which was a traditional essay-based format exam used to test the super-bright; I had already secured a high A in Geography so I thought I could use this as leverage if my grades dipped.  

Anyway the two days before involved me making copious notes on clearing options and contact numbers in preparation for any outcome. At school I admit I was a bit of a teachers-pet; and I was a perennial ‘preparer’ carefully planning eventualities and options – this hasn’t changed that much. I went into school with more bits of paper then I was due to collect. My school in Rochester and its teachers were second to none; I shed a tear or two when I left in 2001 and I still have immensely strong and fond memories of my time there.  

Incidentally despite some comments I am very proud of my background; my single mum worked very hard to build a small business (as a dentist) and she fought hard to get me, and my brothers, onto a choral scholarship and then onto a full academic scholarship. I at 9 did not make a choice about which school I went too; I did however have a choice about which University clubs I joined at 18… [a big difference I make with the current crop in charge of the Conservative party

After packing my bags the night before for Magaluf; I had agreed to go on a ‘boys’ trip to celebrate the results whatever the outcome (which turned out to be a disastrous holiday but anyway). I walked into school having had next to no sleep. This in hindsight was a stupid thing to have done because had my results gone pear-shaped i'd have been scuppered; I of course did not think about that when I confirmed I could do it. I was lucky. I am lucky sometimes. 

The school had clearly an awareness of my results as they had put all of the result slips into brown envelopes; standing at the door was the headmaster. I arrived a bit late and my nerves were further aroused in seeing people coaxed next to phones…

I can remember clearly how I responded when I opened the envelope; to say its mixed emotions probably under exaggerates the moment. It was nerves (plus some more nerves) followed by relief, followed by elation. I had done it; just! Two years of hard graft and re-sits (I didn’t do that well to begin with) had paid off. I was off to do Natural Sciences!   

I immediately called the Durham ‘hotline’ that was engaged and further engaged whenever I tried to call. In those days you needed to do that to confirm acceptance. One of my close friends was also due to get to the same college had the same problem, so a bit of mutual re-assurance on getting in contact was well received as he also was struggling to get through. I had three numbers; we called the third and both got someone. I look back now but I was secretly worried about going to University; change and moving away; so was always good to have a friend going to the same place.

Next came the phone calls to relatives; my family is a nosey bunch and it was clear they all more perfectly aware of the outcome more than me. I look back in hindsight to say there was an increasing level of apprehension on my results because mine were tight. My younger brother was Head Boy, school SWOT and rowing captain; he was and is blessed with a few faculties I have never had. My elder brother had already effectively got the grades before walking into school for his course at Brighton; though it turned into a ‘clearing’ nightmare when he chose to change from Architecture to Chartered Surveying! I turned out to be OK; but it could all have ended differently.

Lastly I checked up on my friends; all schools foster some form of peer-to-peer comparison and like most teenage boys I was competitive. To some extent I have never lost that but I wanted to know what had happened to them. Many of them were off to Southampton, Nottingham, Birmingham and other places; a few I could not spot.

I then got a tap on the shoulder. I needed to be in a car to Gatwick Airport 

Oh yes; I was off on holiday. I almost forgot.


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