Thursday, August 17, 2006

Today is A-level results day. I really want to email my cousin and see how she did, but I think these things are delicate.

When I was at university, me and a whole crowd of buddies got a summer job at the JMB - Joint Matriculation Board - which was based on the Manchester university campus.

Now, of course, like everything else, the JMB has been reformed/relaunched/rebranded (part of AQA, which sounds like a digital ad agency), and perhaps it doesn't exist in its past form. Which is good. It was like working down the pit. You had to clock in, with a time card, and if you were one minute late, the time turned red and they docked your pay on a per-minute basis.

There was a weekly welcome shpeil from Mr Molyneux, an older man with a terrible adenoids problem. He did the same shtick every week, and even now, years later, I can remember what he said. A friend of mine, Jonny, did the most fanatastic take-off. "You've got one pencil, don't lose it. If someone nicks your pencil, nick someone elses."

And every day at 5pm, he'd walk into this hall of hundreds of students, adding up and checking examiners marks on papers, and intone "it's five o'clock, you can go now," and everyone would leave. One time, at about 4.10, Jonny said in Mr Molyneux's inimatable voice, "it's five o'clock, you can go now." and five hundred students got up and left, and he got his pay docked.

Oddly, in the years we were doing those jobs, there were not the media stories about how badly the exams were marked.

Although, because it was marked on a curve (which I think it still is), the difference between a B and D at A level was something like one and a half percent.

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