It’s been a while, but I’m back. And I bring news…

Firstly, I’ll apologise for the break in transmissions. I posted my last blog within hours of getting my A-level result (no, that’s not a typo; I’ll explain in a minute) and the past week has been bedlam with no spare time for me to stop and write several hundred words of online diary, even piecemeal. I’ve spent three days sorting out a technical problem for my dad and gone two nights without sleep as a result; and I’m writing this at two o’clock on the morning of Friday the twenty-seventh because it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to sit and spend some quality time with my keyboard. I don’t know why I’m bothering: it’ll be another few days before I can get to the library to post this damned article on the internet anyway…


So, the exciting news I was telling you all about. Basically, this tale started this time last year when I got my A-level results. I wanted to go to university but I wanted to make my application with my results already under my belt as I’d had something of a fiasco the year before with my AS exams. I picked up my results and what I found disappointed me mildly but didn’t surprise me at all. The only grade I was really unsatisfied with was Latin (which came out at a ‘D’). So I went to the college’s exam office to see if I could buck the system and re-sit (it should be noted: it’s against the policy of my former sixth-form college to allow candidates to re-sit after their full A-level results have come in). The head of exams told me to write a letter to the principle, so I did.


Enter the Latin teacher: a lovely Irish lady who takes rather more interest in her students’ welfare than teachers are generally wont to do these days. I was only asking for a place in the exam hall to park my backside; what I got was the opportunity to join the relevant lessons for the remainder of the year (it was already mid-September). I suspect this had something to do with the Latin teacher’s influence. (I’m torn between giving her the credit she’s due and keeping my principle of anonymity. I don’t think my conscience will let me rest easy either way this time.)


So I re-sat Latin and applied to six universities. I was hoping to get unconditional offers because I only had one exam to go and I had already theoretically fulfilled all the criteria for them. Sadly this was not to be. St Andrew’s rejected me out of hand, Manchester and Birmingham gave me conditional offers, Cardiff gave me a conditional offer with a very responsive letter, Swansea said they were intrigued and wanted to interview me, and only Lampeter gave me the offer I was hoping for. To make matters worse, the Latin teacher predicted me a rather optimistic ‘B’. It was numerically possible, but I had to get an ‘A’ in both the papers I was sitting. And all the universities that wanted me wanted a ‘B’, except Swansea and Lampeter (Swansea, incidentally wanted the ‘C’ I thought I was capable of).


Did a madness grip me? Why, oh why did I do what I did next? I accepted Birmingham’s offer. To counterbalance this suicide, I took Lampeter as my insurance offer to make sure I had somewhere to go; but I still think it was a daft thing to do. Strange thing is: the more I looked at Birmingham, the more I wanted to go there…


So last Thursday I collected my results. I turned up over an hour early (and formed a two-person queue with a very pretty blonde) because nobody told me when the doors opened and I sat and waited, reading that month’s Doctor Who Magazine to take my mind off my nerves (it’s testament to my geekiness that it actually worked!). A crowd gathered. I chatted to the other classicists for a while and helped the other metalhead in his search for teachers. The doors opened and we went in. Queues formed at desks next to the initials of our surnames. My heart pounded in my throat.


I took my envelope and held it gormlessly for over a minute, my mind a complete blank. It took a while for me to register the fact that I was holding it in my hand. I hadn’t slept the night before, so even after I opened it I took a few seconds to find the line with the total UMS point tally and my final grade.




There it was in a thick, black font. C. And a middle C at that. I could have got an emergency re-mark but I knew it was a waste of twenty-five quid: I’d bollocksed up.

So I took my mobile phone and I dialled the admissions number for Birmingham. Engaged. I called both the numbers for the Ancient and Medieval History department. Both Engaged.


At this point, the Latin teacher walks past. The C earned me a congratulatory hug; it was a big improvement on last year. We discussed my results and she told me not to give up hope, to keep trying Birmingham as I could demonstrate a big improvement and, if necessary, she’d write in my support. And she’d talk to her husband, who is an admission tutor himself, and see if he could offer any advice. E-mail her at the end of the day, whatever my news.


I kept trying all three numbers for Brum. Eventually, one of the department admissions tutors picked up: Archaeology; the prospectus had the wrong number. He gave me a new number and warned me I’d be passed on yet again. I continued the salvo of phone calls as I wandered in to town with Metalhead and Tall Blondegirl.


Eventually, I found myself in the Central Library foyer, the only quiet place in town where you’re actually allowed to use a mobile phone. I called the new number and got through. As I’d been warned, I was given a new number to call. Surprisingly, I got through on that one first time.


I told the Professor my situation and he asked my name. I told him. He said he had my file in front of him. I ‘looked interesting’, so ‘what the hell’!


Elation, joy and relief rushed through my body in a way that made me want to shout from the rooftops. I told the Professor I loved him (this may prove awkward when we meet next month) and I spent the next couple of days babbling excitedly to my friends. I sent texts to everyone on my phone and I sent an e-mail to the Latin teacher – a mix of self-congratulation and gushing thanks. I also sent an e-mail to my internet penpal Destructogirl. She goes to Brum Uni herself, so it looks like we’re finally going to meet after exchanging e-mails for three months.


So next month I up sticks again to spend three years in the midlands. I’m leaving home and my new adventures begin. I’ve hated my home for five years, there’s a new series of Doctor Who out in 2005 and I’m about to spend three years studying a subject I love. Life doesn’t get any better really, does it?


~ by Scary Rob on 1 September, 2004.

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