It's that time of year again.
55,000 sorry little sods are heading in to start their Leaving Certificate exams.
Back in my day, there were three exams – the Primary, the Intermediate [always known as The Inter] and the Leaving Certificates. The Primary was usually sat by ten or eleven year olds and it was the gateway to such esoteric professions as office boys or delivery boys. The Inter came a few years later at around fifteen or sixteen and opened up the field of opportunity considerably. Walk into an interview with a good Inter and you were in with a chance. Then came the Leaving. That was the killer and was the gateway to University or practically anything that took your fancy.
Nowadays, they have wimped the whole thing down. Now they only have to sit two exams – the Junior and the Leaving. The Junior is pretty much worthless and is merely a trial run for the Leaving. The Leaving also is pretty worthless and is only a stepping stone to Third Level. To get a job as a burger flipper these days you have to at least have a Masters in Astrophysics so I don't know what all the fuss over the Leaving is about.
I hated exams. I hated them so much that I ignored them. I completely put them out of my mind in the hopes that they would go away. Of course they didn't and the day of the first paper would arrive and I wouldn't have done a tap of study. I believed [and still do] on living life on a wing and a prayer.
I didn't do too badly in my Inter. I got a few passes and a few honours, and my highest mark was for Drawing. That was strange as I hadn't even had a lesson in the subject and had only put my name down for a laugh. That says something about the system, but I'm not sure what.
I managed a scrape through the Leaving also, and once again my highest marks were for Drawing. Once again I hadn't had a single lesson as my school didn't do the subject. Weird.
I went on to third level to study Electronics. I'm not sure why, as I wasn't particularly interested in the subject. I would have preferred Cartography but the only decent job there was in the Ordnance Survey and at the time you had to join the army for that. I have my limits. Part of the Electronics course was Mechanical Drawing and each year I sailed through the exams hitting the high nineties and one exam ringing the bell at the magic 100%.
I finally graduated from Third Level with a piece of paper that was essentially useless. You see, they had spent three years teaching me about the Thermionic Valve [with a passing mention of the transistor], and I entered a world where the Thermionic Valve was as dead as a dinosaur, and the Silicon Chip was the rising star. I was redundant before I even started.
With my useless certificates, I picked six companies at random, and wrote to them begging for a job. Four replied and i got called for two interviews. I got offered two jobs and took both, but that's another story.
The strange thing about the whole affair though was that I was never particularly interested in drawing.
Maybe I'm a reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci?