30 October 2006

A mock maths exam

(copy of a letter)

Perhaps I should attempt to explain the true context when I refer to my useless little bits of apparent success in a social context. ‘You must have been pleased’, you said of my distinction mark in a mock maths exam. Well, it had been a mildly pleasant and enlivening way of spending the few days of unsupervised preparation, a brief holiday from my increasingly desolate and wearing life in the Sixth Form with no exams to prepare for. (This was after I had been prevented from taking the School Certificate exam and hence delayed in registering as a candidate for London University external degrees.)

Although enlivening, in these few days I did not reach as high an energy level as I could have been experiencing every day if I had taken the School Certificate and proceeded to take as many exams as possible as fast as possible. I was also bitterly aware that it was not an exam I had taken for real and could put on my CV. I was thoroughly browned off with coming top of school exams, with nothing permanent to show for the effort that had been put into them, and I did not want to have to do any more of it. It just added to my disaffection with anything not done for real and in the context of a public exam.

Then again, it was a reminder of the right way of doing maths, but I had no way of changing my circumstances so that I could stop doing everything in the worst possible way. I had no right to make decisions about my own arrangements, although my mental age (a concept not yet censored out of existence) was no less than 21 (if my IQ had been 150), not less than 25 (assuming an IQ of 180 which I had been said to have), and not less than 35 assuming an IQ of 250 (which might reasonably have been guessed from my early reading).