Tag Archives: english language

September 28th 1975

“Didn’t get up until 12-30. Nig came round in the afternoon. Wrote The Stranger essay for English”

I know what all you regular readers are thinking… does an original copy of that 1975 literary classic “The Stranger” still exist? Has it been preserved for all time, and for future generations?

This was, after all, the decade’s most hard-hitting short story – a pithy yet utterly captivating tale of intrigue, border guards, furtive glances, potential global destruction and, most importantly, dirty handkerchiefs. All set on something that appears to be the Trans-Siberian Express. No-one less than Spielberg tried to option the story, hoping to turn it into a Hollywood movie, provisionally retitled “Tossers on a Train”.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t Steven Spielberg who approached me, but Dave Spielberg, car mechanic and part-time film hobbyist from Hoboken, New Jersey.

Ladies & Gentlemen, after a long, hard-fought battle on eBay to win the original blue school exercise book (in the face of fierce bidding from both the British Library and the Smithsonian) I present – wearing my heart very much on my 17-year-old teenage sleeve – the original stunning manuscript of “The Stranger”. Read it and weep.

No, really, weep.















The End.

The winner of 1975’s Fooker Prize!

Archie, my English Language tutor thought otherwise….


Hey Archie, for an English teacher you have bloody awful handwriting!

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August 20th 1974

“Got 5 ‘O’s including Spok. English”


Let’s review these results shall we?…..

Economics: Grade F FAIL
E.Lit. Syll.B: Grade E PASS (English Literature Syllabus B)
Physics: Grade F FAIL
Eng. Language: Grade E PASS (English Language)
Geography: Grade F FAIL
Rel.Studies: F FAIL (Religious Studies)
Spok. English: C PASS (Spoken English)
History: E PASS
Tech. Drawing: E PASS (Technical Drawing)

The back of the actual certificate (shown below) states “Attainment in an Ordinary level subject is indicated by a Grade A, B, C, D, or E of which Grade A is the highest and Grade E the lowest……. Grade E is the lowest level of attainment judged by the University to be of sufficient standard to be recorded

I think it’s fair to admit I was…. a somewhat less than an average student who somehow managed to barely SQUEAK by in some of these important examinations. It feels astonishing to me now that I could apply myself quite admirably the year earlier and take/pass Mathematics quite easily (albeit also with an “E PASS” grade) but then when the rest came around I was phenomenally sloppy and without any personal application.

I’m surprised in retrospect that I failed Economics (it being something I dealt with quite successfully later in my career) and amazed that I completely stumbled in Physics when, just 2 years earlier, I was flying high in the subject and was first in my class.

No surprises regarding Geography (my wife is nodding her head as I type) or Religious Studies. I don’t think the *ahem* things I was ‘studying’ during my church retreats were necessarily likely to turn up on the exam paper?

I’m afraid I can only be flippant about all of this 36 years after the event. I can’t be convinced that passing more of these O-Levels would have changed my life that much so there’s no point in being regretful after the event is there?

In a nutshell I seemed to adopt ‘slackerdom’ at an early age?!

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June 18th 1973

“EXAMS START – Morn – English Lang. <- Quite Easy. Done some physics. Went into Eastleigh after school”

We now proceed with a number of boring diary entries, mostly concerned – it would appear – with my exams.

I can’t remember a THING about sitting down and taking these tests. Not the process, the procedure, the content, the location… nothing.

However, I do note with not inconsiderable irony that although I found English Language “quite easy” my knowledge of the language didn’t stop me from then writing “done some physics

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