Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Not Going to Birmingham

I’m only ever free when I don’t care what happens – most of the time I do care and my utterances and actions are carefully controlled by a constant sense of “what result do you want?” Some people seem able to say and do what they like and not care about the consequences, but I’m not one of them.

When I had my interview at Birmingham University, I very quickly didn’t care. It was pouring with rain, my train was late and I hated the look of the campus. Still, by dint of running like mad I managed to arrive just a couple of minutes late for my interview at 12.15pm.

The interview was in some kind of prefabricated hut. My interview was the last one before lunch and the man who was supposed to interview me was just locking the door and departing as I arrived: he’d clearly decided I wasn’t coming.

Dripping wet, I explained who I was. He didn’t like the look of me, I could tell. I didn’t like the look of him either.

He started the interview in a very lackadaisical manner and didn’t seem very interested in anything I had to say. After a few minutes I thought I probably didn’t want to go to Birmingham University and after a few minutes more I was certain.

Then he decided to ask me a question.

“So, you’re studying Sean O’Casey and Shakespeare for A-level, I see. Can you tell me what they had in common?”

Well, I could have gone down the powerful-writing-lots-of-real-characters route, but I thought, on balance, I wouldn’t bother.

“They both wrote plays.”

In the afternoon at Birmingham they announced, after showing us round, that we now had to write an essay. But, they explained, they were not allowed to give us an exam. This was not an exam, oh no. If we did well in it, it would only benefit us.

So, up pops Smartarse Daphne, well past caring now.

“So, if we do well, it will benefit us and help Birmingham to offer us a place?”

Yes, that’s right.

“What if we do badly?”


“Well, if we do badly, then Birmingham won’t offer us a place, will they?”

Err - - - no.

“So can you explain how this essay is different from an exam?”

Errrrr - - - - -

Well, he couldn’t and didn’t. And I wrote a really rubbish essay. And Birmingham didn’t offer me a place. And I've never been there since.

Good result for everyone, I think.


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