I have a new exam nightmare. For the last thirty-five years I've woken up every few weeks with the same old nightmare: I've just gone into the exam room and it's the wrong paper on the desk, or I've revised for the wrong paper, or the whole thing is written in some language I don't understand.
Anyway, I now have a new real life nightmare. I don't get to the exam room to start the exam.
The Cambridge system is that one examiner from every "board" turns up at every room in which one of their papers is to be sat -- in case a student has a question, or has spotted a mistake, or whatever. Anyway I was down to turn up at the Corn Exchange on Monday morning, nine o'clock, to be there for the first thirty minutes of the Part Ib Ancient History paper.
The truth is that I completely forgot.
It wasn't that I was doing something fun. I was in fact at home emailing my fellow examiner about how we were to divide up, and swap, the scripts between us. I just completely forget I should be there in the Corn Exchange, all dressed up in my gown,
So at 9.20 (20 minutes after I should have been there) I had a call on my mobile, asking where I was. I didn't quite get to the mobile in time, but soon enough, another call came via the Faculty. There wasn't a major problem. One student had had a question about the paper, but one which one of my heroic colleagues (who was there to supervise another paper) had been able to answer.But where was I?
Answer: in my dressing gown at the kitchen table. After the call, I instantly got dressed, and rushed off to the exam room (borrowing the husband's academic gown). When I got there, five minutes past the magic hour of 9.30, the chief invigilator was very nice to me (just like she is, I guess, to students who crack up or try to walk out).
I talked to the student who had had the question, then I chatted to the invigilator about the different behaviour of different students in different subjects. (Apparently students in some subjects wil take a loo/fag break between every question they answer...).
Then I got on my bike to go back to the office to wait for the scripts to be delivered (70 overall), and I've been marking ever since.
I live to fight another day, I think.