I WAS never in favour of exams in the days when I'd to sit them.
Now that I needn't sit them, I think they're wonderful.
Do I really mean that? Yes, and with a prevailing wind, no. No in the sense that they're a pain in the neck and a bit like footer cup finals: even if you're good, it can all go wrong on the day. The stress is inimical to good performance, freezing up the brainlobes and making the mind go blank.
But I also say yes, in the sense that you must test your knowledge or ability some time, and exams focus the mind for weeks beforehand, making knowledge stick or skills become second nature.
At the time of writing, I've a test to undergo soon. As an inter-regional man of mystery, I'll say only that it involves being given instructions in Chinese. That's right, I'm practising to be a waiter at The Ministry of Funny Woks restaurant.
I've spent the last couple of weeks training hard, panicking, not caring, panicking again, training some more, and then leaving it in the lap of the gods. This latter is never a good idea, as the gods seem to regard me as their plaything and like nothing better than a laugh at my expense.
On previous occasions where similar tests have been imminent, I've been plagued — deliberately — with illness, neighbourhood noise and conspiracies to make me late for the event. Those of you familiar with Jehovah the Merciless will know the drill.
In some ways, life itself is a test or exam, certainly according to religious accounts, where Hell awaits those who fail.
But at least the myth of Hell served its purpose. That's why the churches are full of old folk, busy with last-minute cramming in the hope of getting good marks.
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