Pandemonium in an Art Exam and Gazza Finally gets the Girl, I think!!
Friday, 11th June 1976, started off like any other day. I left my home at the usual time of 8.18am meeting up on the way with my friend Anthony Rae for the usual two mile walk to school. In the afternoon I was to complete the first of a two part paper of an O Level Art exam. This exam would take six hours and was divided into two, three hour parts over two days, the first part being this afternoon. I had with me my preparation work which I was allowed to take into the examination.
As a rule I would go home for lunch walking the two miles from school to my home in Fearnhead, have some soup, watch Rainbow for a bit and then walk the two miles back. It sounds insane now but lunch time at school then was about 3 hours long. But this day I decided to stay at school and have a school meal, or school dinner as everybody called them. In the afternoon, as I was walking near to the J Block en route to my art exam, Debbie Sutch, Joanne Baron and Catherine Deakin approached me and asked me if I would go out with Catherine. I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing because I had been mad on Catherine for years and was under the impression she hated my guts. I told the girls (rather nervously), that I didn’t believe them and said to Catherine was this true (can’t believe I actually spoke to her), to which she replied in the affirmative. I was so shocked by this revelation that my body began to react in a strange way as I stood there opened mouth hardly believing what I had just heard. I immediately became a bit nauseous, dizzy, felt sick and my knees started to shake. I found that I was unable to speak and was convinced for a while that I had been struck down by some terrible malady. I then muttered something about an art exam and ran off. After a while these symptoms dissipated and I began to feel very happy that I was at last going out with Catherine Deakin, even though I hadn’t actually really spoken to her yet. Everything was a blur and I was transported in my mind to another level of existence and became quite unaware what was going on around me.
After several glasses of water I came to terms with what had just gone before and walked up the steps of the J block to my art exam which was on the first floor, I felt 10 feet tall. As stated previously in this narrative this was to be the first part of a two part exam, this being a three hour paper. We had been given the exam paper several days before and had to decide which question we were to answer and consequently do any preparation work necessary. The question I chose was, Black on White. That’s all it said and was open to a lot of interpretation. I chose to do a painting of the US Soul/Blues singer Rufus Thomas.
The rules stated that you were not allowed to take photographs to copy from in to the exam; however, you could take in preparation work which in my case was several drawings of the aforementioned Rufus Thomas that I had made during the previous few days. The adjudicator in the art room that day was Mr. Mills who was our art teacher. We were all shown to our desks where we were greeted by a large piece of blank A3 paper, pencils and paint pots. By this time I had come down from my cloud and was aware of what was going on around me. My table was by the window (very bad because I tend to look out of them all the time). I noticed to my left that a lad called, I think his name was John Crook, was actually sitting on a plastic chair which was position quite precariously on a small wooden desk… On his lap were a drawing board and a big piece of paper. He looked more like a trapeze act than a lad about to sit an art exam; anyway, balanced on a plastic chair he was, well for the time being anyway.
When everybody was ready, the exam began and we were faced with three hours of intense creativity, or so I thought. After about ten minutes I looked out of the window and noticed the Debbie, Joanne, Catherine sat outside on a wall looking up at the classroom where I was. By this time they had been joined by their friend Lesley Close. I then stood up and waved to them, they all in turn waved back, much to Mr. Mill’s annoyance. He screwed his face up and gave me a sly look and told me to get back to my work, I apologized and conformed to his request and continued to draw Rufus.
After about an hour and a half, things were really going well. I had sketched the singer and had applied some paint when all of a sudden Philip Burgess became almost hysterical with laughter, he appeared uncontrollable I thought he was having some kind of fit. Everybody suddenly stopped what they were doing and looked up. Mr. Mills was looking puzzled; apart from Philip Burgess laughing there was silence. It appears that Martin Waldron was really concentrating on his work; he had had his face very close to his painting when a lens from his glasses fell into his work completely ruining what he was doing. (Martin’s glasses were held together by sticky tape). I saw Martin look up very slowly and I actually observed a lens was missing from his spectacles. When people realized what had happened they joined in Philips uncontrollable laughter, including John Crook who was still balanced on a small wooden desk. As all this was happening John Crook lost his balance and fell off his chair landing on Richard Baker who was seated close by ruining both his own work and Richard’s. Then Richard and John started fighting and tables and chairs were everywhere. Mr. Mills intervened and attempted to break the fight up but I noticed he wasn’t finding this task easy and began to turn a funny hue of red. What a commotion. I stood up and began waving to the girls down below thinking I was David Cassidy or someone. Anyway, after much ado things eventually settled down the exam continued.
I have to say that I have been in many examination rooms and sat exams since that peculiar day in 1976, but I have never experienced anything like that since. But it ended on a good note because I was officially going out with Catherine Deakin and nothing else really mattered.