Words on GCSEs by our expert on pretense, Abdi Bennett...
People looking down at their shoes and their shoes are wet. Wet with the crystalline tears of teenage angst. In the grasp of their convulsing fingers a slew of information. GCSE results they call them. For a sizeable few such scenes of emotions are not too far from reality. Why then, you may ask, is there all this fuss over (as somebody somewhere probably once said) "a bunch of self-important capital letters"?
Personally, I stopped caring about it all. I barely slept at night - everything takes on a new florescence after 2 a.m; everything is more fluid. I slept through chunks of the many pointless mocks (who were they mocking? - still the question plagues me), when I wasn't sleeping, my facial expressions were contorted by delirium. I sat through the harassment typical of lessons where the teacher isn't doing anything but would like to feel they are, their sharp reprimands yearning for a cattle prod. Sometimes I looked out of the window to see the hideous protrusion of red brick grow, like worthless crystals in a cave. The builders gave off hints of dank, sometimes.
Slowly, everyone's face collapsed into a television screen, tuned to static. For what seemed an age, nobody really talked. Maybe they did when I had my back turned and my ears covered, but I'm none the wiser. People held on to the ghosts of past conversations, as time bade the ghosts to slip through their fingers. The jellies shrank. I didn't care. I wasn't lazy. I just flatly didn't care. Maybe you'd call that laziness but what am I to do about that? At some indistinct point, I had grown sick of it all; the dull terror of realising that I had forgotten to tuck in my shirt no longer held any allure. Distraction was not my problem. I did little in the way of video games/parties/drugs/a life/girlfriends/music festivals/sleepovers/weddings/funerals/legal entanglements (delete as appropriate).
I just fundamentally, did nothing. I went to McDonald's a lot, to drink pink slime-shakes and listen to the pop music and do nothing. At home I listened to music, curled up and did nothing. Hell, I didn't even watch Archer. I did no homework and it is either through the apathy of my teachers or a failure of the system that I received few detentions for it. I was late and saw many lunch times
gobbled up by the Hoxha bunkers. When I emerged from those stale depths, I saw that the jellies had again decreased in size. In the endless sludge of lessons, teachers droned on about revision, dispensing platitudes and tired quotes freely. Por ejemplo, "Harrumph! In my youth" - we doubted he had truly had one - "we would revise to the sweet and sticky point of mental constipation." The rousing, booming tones that spelt "Good morning Vietnam!" My personal favourite, however, was
"we need memes, not ablutions!" Of course, quite a few of them were carted off frothing at the mouth, but the jolly glint in the eyes of a nameless SLuT told me that this was a regular part of "exam season".
I didn't revise as much as I was supposed to, but truthfully, I had no desire to 'discern the inner nature' of so-called mental constipation. Besides, I think I heard somewhere that you were supposed to have learnt whatever useless information deemed appropriate for your impressionable adolescent brain before you revised it. It's funny that, because with all the frantic rushing through endless worksheets, it was very hard to learn anything. It was especially hard because most of it was deprived of context. Who wants to learn about the minutiae of Khrushchev's nasal hair? Not me. One thing I did manage to learn is that red and blue, in suitable conditions, can be the same colour. Until you require details on these conditions, farewell.