Oliver Pateman reviews his results day. He’s still confused.
I received my A-Level results three years ago, and was all set to go to UCL. I had already failed to get into a certain other University (Fenland Polytechnic) at this point, and had made up my mind. I was going to live a savvy, up-to-the minute metropolitan life in the big smoke. Surrounded by impoverished artists with CND badges in dark garrets and turtlenecked theatre types, I would break free from the parochial shackles of rural English life in the huge seething mass of humanity of our capital city. Instead, I ended up at Oxford, a city of gentle golden stone, starchy tradition from collar to cuffs and rather a lot of ecclesiastical music. I’m still confused as well.
I have a friend who told me of his plan to run club nights in the most glamorous and exotic places in the world. Places with the best DJs and the hardest partiers: Ibiza, St Tropez, Mykonos, and, naturally, Tunbridge Wells on A-Level results night. It seems only right that the pinnacle of one’s school career should be spent in getting absolutely rat-arsed on Christ knows what in whichever provincial town you went to school. Curiously, it has been proven by the wonder of modern science that the extent to which you enjoy the night is inversely proportional to the number of A-grades inside the letter. To be quite honest, you’ll probably spend most of it in the queue.
My own A-Level results day started in earnest as I bounded down the stairs first thing, ready to telephone the school and receive my long-awaited and all-important results. My palms were sweating, heart thumping in my chest. This is it, I thought, the very culmination of my school career. I’ve got to be calm. Got to be collected. I’ve got to sound pleasantly and politely surprised. And then, **the number you have dialled has not been recognised** Shit. Poor start. Perhaps I’m not quite A* material after all.
I waited an hour to talk to the registrar. “Shall I just read out your results then?” “Yes please, that would be lovely.” “Ok, Chemistry, A.” “A?” “Yes, ‘A’. For ‘Apple’”. Really? I suppose perhaps you technically don’t need to be able to spell terribly well to pass a Chemistry A-Level.