Around this time of year, when I was eighteen, I was either in the last stages of A-levels, or I’d finished them. We had moved from Cambridge to Weston-super-Mare when I was sixteen so had done the whole course at the new school. There was a very different style of teaching, and I’m not suggesting my results would have been different had we not moved, but I didn’t do that well.
When I took the exams, I thought I had done ok; certainly I revised really hard and had worked throughout the course, but I never did as well in exams as my classwork and knowledge of the subjects would have suggested. All my life I’d wanted to go to Uni,because I loved learning and I loved studying, and I loved the subjects I ended up doing, English, French and History. My trouble was that I didn’t always study the right thing – what I studied was in depth and I knew it all backwards, but somehow I’d missed or misheard what we were supposed to do, or I would focus on a tiny detail not the broader outline – or vice-versa, and in the exams I’d misread the questions, or miss the point of the questions. Without being boastful, I was as clever as everyone else, and much cleverer than some, I had a great memory and a wide interest in everything so my general knowledge was good and I could relate things to each other.
When I took the exams I guess I was as positive as I could be considering I had not one single offer from any university to study anything – in fact I’d not had a single interview anywhere! There were not as many options in those days, and I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher (oh how I laughed later, as I ended my thirty year teaching career!) and I didn’t get a place in the journalism college I had an interview for. I was pretty crushed by that, but thought I might get a Uni place through clearing. Clearing is the system when spare places are awarded to people who do better than expected, or worse than expected and have to lower their expectations. In my case I could only do better!
I’ve always been a positive person, so in that summer, without the least idea what my future held, I went to back Cambridge, my home town for a coupe of weeks and stayed with my aunty. I had a fantastic time with my old friends, and made new friends including my first ever boyfriend. I must have been disappointed and downhearted when I received my results,although actually they weren’t so bad, and I must have been even more so when I did not make it through clearing and was not offered a place at any Uni. I was offered a place at a teacher training college, but decided that I wouldn’t accept it, my heart was just not in it, and I knew I would hate it. It was miles from anywhere and was only young women. My closest friends were all young men – not boyfriends, just friends and I liked mixed company.
I guess I thought I would find a job of some kind while I considered what to do next – I actually don’t really remember. However, out of the blue I was invited to an interview at the new Manchester Polytechnic – and that changed my life for ever in the most marvellous way.
However, that July when I eighteen, I had all that ahead of me over the next few months! i wish I could meet my then self, and without revealing my future, talk to me about things! My featured image shows the person I was then! So excited, so optimistic, and so lucky!