Tag Archives: technical drawing

December 9th 1974

“Started to write in Dairy again. Occasional Holiday from School. Went to Southampton and bought Xmas Cards Pressies. Wrote some Xmas Cards to people”

Somewhat ironically given the content of this entry, this would prove to be my last scribblings in the 1974 diary.

Annoyingly, the dearth of entries over the summer, autumn and winter periods means that I am unable to properly express my reaction to starting sixth form college following the “ahem* successes of my O-Level results.

I can tell you that I opted to continue at Barton Peveril, which was still in its transition stage from being a Secondary School into a full Sixth Form College.

The new school year meant that I joined the “1st year 6th”, bringing with it both freedom from any kind of school uniform and a whole influx of new friends (and some foes). The college brought 16 or 17 year-old kids in from the surrounding secondary schools and with some of those people a new set of influences and distractions arrived. (The distractions were generally housed in a female form)

I chose a peculiar triumvirate of ‘A’ (Advanced) Level subjects to study. The first was Technical Drawing, something I vaguely enjoyed at Ordinary Level and one of the few subjects I successfully passed. The second was Art, not because I was in any way talented in the subject (I wasn’t) but because I felt it would be a subject in which I could express myself as well as gather with people who, like me, were interested in music and films. (I was also eager to become a “graphic artist”, my head doubtless swayed by the works of record sleeve designers such as Roger Dean or photographers like Mick Rock)

My third subject was an undoubted mistake. I took English Literature. I think I stuck with it one term (semester) before dumping it off my schedule (the 1975 diary may prove enlightening in this respect). I quickly realised that none of the literature we were exploring in the classes was material I was even vaguely interested in reading, let alone discussing.

The (eventual) lack of all those English lessons meant I had many mornings and afternoons free to spend around other like-minded ‘slackers’ in the college’s “common room” a space put aside where people congregated to drink tea/coffee, play records and generally do very little other than lounge about on vinyl-upholstered chairs and sofas.

I do believe that this “common room” – somewhere I shall probably refer to regularly during 1975 and early 1976 – was more of a place of ‘education’ for me than any of the classrooms. Here, I listened to more music than I could ever imagine and was introduced to lots of new (to me) stuff like R&B, Soul and early German electronica. I interacted with not only my own ‘lower sixth’ classmates but also those students who were a year older in the ‘upper sixth’. I started to come out of my shell more and was able to express myself without feeling reserved or withdrawn. In short, I guess my time in the 6th Form helped me to “grow up”?!

In terms of this project I can’t help feeling – as you may – disappointed that my 1974 diary yielded so little. However, I hope what I have managed to share has been fun to read and that you’ve found my meanderings a satisfactory and entertaining distraction.

On then… to 1975…


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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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January 23rd 1974

“TD2 -> Easy”

Ooh, a day of cocky nonchalance about the exams!

What’s the betting it blew up in my face?

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June 22nd 1973

“TD2 <- Easy. Geog (Phys) <- Easy.”

Another day of exam cockiness. Technical Drawing and Geography both proving easy.

My wife will doubtless comment about me finding that second one ‘easy’

Let’s just say that after moving to America I have found myself almost permanently lost and am somewhat “geographically-challenged”

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June 20th 1973

“Economics <- Easy. T.D.1 <- Hard! – Went up Nigs + write stupid, idiotic, moronic letter to Sue”

Yes, I have usually found things to do with money – i.e. Economics – simple to understand. I’m pretty good with numbers and I’m a better ‘economist’ than I often give myself credit for these days, managing to strike the best balance of spend and thrift as well as hunting down the right bargains etc. I’ve always believed in the old adage that if you look after the pennies, the pounds/dollars will often look after themselves, and so I hate unnecessary costs, waste and/or the feeling of being ripped off.

TD – or Technical Drawing – was quite a hard subject to take but it felt related to my artistic side. There was a point in my life when I imagined being an architect or designer, but I suspect my aptitude for the subject told a different story.

My Tech Drawing lessons have however stayed with me – for life –  thanks to one simple day-to-day reason. Back then, we were taught to write any lettering with a ruler as a guide. This kept the text neat and tidy around the illustrations. As a result of that I find it VERY difficult to write anything completely freehand without it looking like a dog’s half-eaten dinner. I almost always have to write using a ruler or some kind of straight edge – even envelopes and fill-in forms etc. It’s now the only way my writing looks ‘grown-up’ (even if the process isn’t)

The downside to this is I unfortunately taught my wife the same skill after we met. She used to have nice flowing, easily readable, handwriting. Now, when you add a ruler to her mix, her it sometimes turns out pretty illegible. I have never forgiven myself.

I wonder if I used a ruler for the letter to Sue in the evening? If it was that stupid, idiotic and moronic, why didn’t I later sell it to the Farrelly brothers to turn into a hit Hollywood movie? Dashed opportunities again!

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February 7th 1973

“Cup City 2 Liv 0 (Colin, Tommy)” / “Arguverge > Argument (agane)” / “Went up Nigs in evng – lent him Phantasmagoria + borrowed family – Anyway – Quite Good really” / “Found out that I was 4th in TD with 60% although I haven’t dun homework for 3 months”

City for the cup… City for the Cup!

(Yes, my embarrassment at having to admit I was a teenage fan of Manchester City remains)

I had borrowed Nig’s copy of Family’s “Anyway” before, so maybe I decided to give it another chance? It’s certainly not amongst their best, although I’ve always had a soft spot for “Holding the Compass

No homework for 3 months and I come 4th in Technical Drawing? I either had natural aptitude for this subject back then….. or…. the school was crap.

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The 1973 Diary (II)

This shows how hard I worked as a 15-year-old schoolkid!

Here’s my school timetable, at least (presumably) for January – July 1973. (The diary makes no reference to a timetable from Sept 1973 onwards… maybe it was the same schedule?)

I had Economics (as in ‘world financials’, not ‘home economics’ and all that cookery nonsense) to kick off the week, followed by Religious Education (ha!) and English Composition after the break. Monday afternoon was History, French, Physics and Maths.

Tuesday morning consisted of a double period of Technical Drawing (TD), Geography and (the dreaded) Gym, whilst the afternoon offered up (more) Geography, French, English and History. (I have no idea why the two Geog lessons of the day weren’t twinned together)

Wednesday commenced with French (“quelle horreur”) followed by Grography (again??), SINGING (!!!???!!!) and Maths and after lunch I was subjected to English Drama, History and a double TD.


Thursday started off BAD for me with double Games (outdoor physical nonsense like football, hockey, basketball, running, cross-country leg tiring) with Physics and French after the morning break. The afternoon threatened double Maths and double English.

My Fridays were top and tailed with double Economics and double Physics with French, Maths, History and Geography in between.

The one thing I really CAN’T remember is that the timetable suggests we had preset evenings for specific homework. The nights don’t even seem to always line up with next day lessons, so what was the point I wonder?



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July 6th 1972 (I)

“Bomb scare at school Missed 1st two lessons” / “Mucked about in TD”

Once again, the actions of a few (or two) made us unable to learn. I’m sure that at the lime we loved all of this, but years later – and after all the terrorist actions in the interim – the mere notion of creating a bomb scare feels just so very, very wrong.

As for “mucked about in TD” I wonder if I ever documented a later story from my Technical Drawing classes when in college? One of my friends stole an entire huge drawing table to use at home. The thing is, he stole it in pieces, removing and taking home a bit of it after every lesson. No-one mentioned the disappearing parts, and – even weirder – no-one noticed the board had gone when he finally took home the large frame and board itself, nicked during a “stage weekend” when – as ‘arty types’ – we were supposed to be prepping the school hall for a theatre performance.

See the nonsense I can remember?

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