NOTE: Some people may find this in bad taste.
In my school days, admittedly more years ago than I care to remember, trying to justify the non – delivery of homework projects with the excuse “please Sir, the dog ate it,” was not exactly fresh and original but was still guaranteed to raise a ripple of laughter from classmates. Now of course it is a tired and lame excuse used as a last resort only by the terminally dull – witted. Family pets have advanced in status so much they can actually make a positive contribution to academic achievement.
Britain’s leading examination boards announced this week that results may be upgraded if it is know that the candidate has suffered an emotionally distressing experience in the run up to the exam. Qualifying experiences include death of a parent or sibling (5% upgrade) parent or sibling being diagnosed with a serious illness (5%) death of a distant relative (3%) a broken limb within 48 hours (3%) a broken limb on the mend (2%) – this throws a whole new light on the theatrical expression of encouragement “break a leg” – and so on, with the death of Fido or Tiddles weighing in at 2% if it happens within 48 hours of the exam or 1% between to days and a week prior. Monty Python fans will be emotionally distressed to learn that the death of a parrot warrants nothing.
A spokesperson for one of the examination boards responding to criticism that the scheme is politically correct mollycoddling of the young said that the maximum upgrade had been set at 5% in order to discourage abuse of the system. As she does not say whether the upgrades will be cumulative I fear the bureaucrats have once more underestimated the ingenuity of ordinary punters. Consider the possibilities in a literature examination
QUESTION: In Shakespearean tragedy the downfall of the main character is often a result of a failure to address obvious flaws in his own character. Discuss this with particular reference to Hamlet and Macbeth.
ANSWER: Both Hamlet and Macbeth are Oh GOD! WHAT IS THE POINT? Why should I sit this exam when with a bare bodkin I could my quietus make. Who cares about qualifications and careers. Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Shakespeare’s tragedies? Are there not enough tragedies in the real world. To write or not to write that is the question, when all our yesterdays have lit the way of fools to dusty death.
Only yesterday my beloved Labrador Bonzo shuffled off this mortal coil when a car, driven by my uncle Jim, mowed him down. Jim did try to avoid Bonzo but lost control of the car and perished himself when he hit a wall.
I felt guilty about having let Bonzo off the leash and rushed to cradle the poor dogs noble head as he breathed his last. When the paramedics led me away I noticed my hands were covered in blood. “Will all Neptune’s great ocean was clean the blood from this my hand I cried out.
Just then my mobile phone rang. It was my mother calling from the hospital to tell me she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and within six months would be heading for that unexplored country from in whose bourne no traveller returns.
In a perfect world I would be able to turn for comfort to my Dad, a virtuous man, but as it says in Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2 “Virtue itself ‘scapes not calumnious strokes and Dad has been paralysed these three years.
I asked my sister, a Goth to let me have some of her downers. Each man is but a poor player who frets and struts his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more I said.
“But in that sleep of death what dreams may come, she quipped rather wittily in the circumstances just before she fell downstairs and broke her leg.
Then I heard a terrible sound coming from the kitchen and rushed in just in time to see poor Tiddles choke to death on a furball.
I tried to sleep last night, for after all, we are such stuff as dreams are made of, our little lives are rounded with a sleep.
But what will it avail me if I pass this examination. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy Mr. Examination Marker.
And if you add it all up that should be worth a pass.