Last week I wrote a post about the 1976 English Leaving Cert exam, filled with fury about the fact that the question about Yeats was so hard that I didn’t even know what they were asking, and had to answer a question about Paradise Lost instead.
Today I read about something that happened in 1974 and remembered that when it happened I was involved in the school play (it was a pantomime, The Cooley Connexion, based upon the story of Irish legendary folk-hero Setanta – oh, and I wrote one of the scenes, my first ever venture into writing for an audience).
This brief burst of nostalgia left me with both a warm glow and a slight feeling of unease, the mental equivalent of a vindaloo curry. What bothered me was the fact that the school play was always performed almost exclusively by students in Fifth Year. Those in Fourth Year were doing the state’s Intermediate Certificate Exam, those in Sixth Year were doing the Leaving Cert, so participation in something so time-consuming as drama rehearsals was not encouraged during those two years. This would imply that I was in Fifth Year in 1974, which could lead to only one conclusion.
To settle things I undertook some complicated mathematics involving a pen and paper, the year I was born, the addition of seventeen years to that date and my tongue sticking out of the right side of my mouth as I concentrated. It was as I feared.
I did my Leaving Cert in 1975.
I don’t feel so bad about the Yeats question now. With a memory as bad as that I’d have probably have made a balls of it anyway.