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A MOMENTOUS time for Number One Son who sits the first of his GCSE exams this week.

Poor lad believes his entire future hangs on the fistful of tests he will endure this month.

All that pressure - and too young to drink beer.

"My mate walked away from school without a single O Level," I told him in an attempt to put things into perspective.

"And is he successful, Dad?"

"Is he successful!" I mocked.

"A client-base of 150 Big Issue customers a week. You tell me!

"That man is the envy of the alcoholic down-and-outs who share his urine-soaked subway.

He's destined for bigger things, mark my words - like a cardboard box at a very significant railway station."

I don't envy the lad. I remember burning the midnight oil, swatting every text book until I could recite it word for word.

The Bible was very, very difficult.

Didn't have time to learn it all, so missed chunks out - like the New Testament. I was the only kid in our RE exam who didn't know who John the Baptist was.

I haven't told Joe, but I got the lowest mark in the history of our school for maths. That became such a dubious landmark they made it a history exam question.

My own maths exam paper's multiple choice section - a, b or c - had an extra option: d - "Would you like to go home now?"

I've used a slide-rule only once since that tortuous day: to calculate the cost of my supermarket bill. Angry women in the Tesco queue threw spuds at me for timewasting.

Never forget using long division to work out how much money I needed to put in the car park pay machine. The time it took to get the answer cost an extra pounds 2.

Applied science was equally catastrophic.

We learnt how long it takes an African clawed toad to have sex. I'm still searching for something to apply that to. It's not even come up in a pub quiz.

The answer's three days by the way. And one of those is spent by the toads just staring at each other, which is classed as sex among amphibians.

It's merely foreplay in our village.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 3, 2007
Previous Article:Neighbours are the headbangers.

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