FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – Revise, Revision and Repeat and, Oh yes, the case of the clear pencil case !!


Picture the scene, it’s about 9.30pm on a sultry Tuesday evening, and the events unfolding in our house are not uncommon in houses throughout the world at this time of year … Yes it’s exam time.

Slightly frayed tempers, a teenager bordering on brain overload, and the first GCSE examination due to take place the following day, created a rather interesting image of domestic, or perhaps not such domestic bliss in the Moriarty-Simmonds household.

The day had started reasonably well, despite having been told, just before school, that a clear pencil case was required for the next day.  Consequently, chargeable hours worked in the RMS Disability Issues Consultancy went out of the window, in favour of a marathon dash around all stationary outlets in Cardiff, to find something that would pass for a clear pencil case.  The route taken across the city centre in an attempt to find such a receptacle, looked rather like a game of noughts and crosses – Staples to Smiths, Morrisons to the Market, Asda to Argos.  Yes, we visited them all.  At the end of this marathon, Steve arrived home triumphant with a pencil case that had a clear front with a solid black back.  Now, by any stretch of the imagination that is not a clear pencil case.  But as he explained, the whole of the parental population of Cardiff, and the surrounding areas, appeared to have gone into meltdown to find clear pencil cases over the preceding weekend.  Apparently, the rather disinterested shop assistant in Staples, said that was all they had, and they weren’t expecting any more stock in before the beginning of the following week.  I expressed some concern about the colour of the pencil case, but we decided to leave it until James came home, before resorting to “Plan B” being a good old fashioned plastic freezer bag … Recycled of course, in the spirit of the Design and Technology exam that was due to take place the following day !!

And so, after our evening meal the final process of revision commenced.  After a reluctant trudge into the other room, the rustle of papers could be heard for the final slog through the range of topics that formed the basis of the DT syllabus of Resistant Material.  By my reckoning the only resistant material in the other room was the resisting “grey” matter that is supposed to pass for a teenage brain.  However, a couple of hours later, James emerged well pleased that he had managed to reconcile his laminates with his linear lines, his screws to his rivets and more importantly how Ross Lovegrove and James Dyson could be “compared and contrasted” should the need arise.  I have to say, that we are now experts in the field of cyclonic vacuuming and DNA staircases.  However, if I have to listen to one more fact about the bagless cleaner or the ergonomics of plastic seating, then I shall expect an Honorary GCSE in Resistant Materials all to myself !!

Now, the process of revision for the evening should have been finished at that point, when concepts of recycling had moved up a notch, from what goes in our green bin, to how designers consider that using “less is more”.  Remember however, we don’t do thing by half in our house.  Not only did the following day herald James’s first GCSE exam, but it was also the day that I was due to attend a particularly important interview.  So, having given up all hope of watching TV that evening, Steve switched from DT guru, to being an expert on democratic enhancement in Wales – all in the time it took to make a cup of tea.

Foolishly, I had forgotten how important it was to prepare for an interview.  After all, for the last fifteen years, I have been my own boss, and having no-one but myself to answer to.  Granted you have to pitch for work, but somehow that is different.  So I decided that Steve should do a mock interview.  Now, coming from a teaching family, he does like to wield the odd bit of power.  “Please explain to me how you have enhanced democratic engagement through your work?” I paused and then launched into my reply.  Thirty minutes later the mock interview was over.  “You weren’t supposed to make it that hard” I snapped, as the wannabe teacher on the other side of the table, closed my file of papers in that dictatorial manner employed by the teaching profession, which says “I told you so …!!”

I should have realised that just like revision, it is important to stretch your abilities – in whatever you are doing as far as you can.  I did it when I finished my own education, when I learnt to drive, and when I wrote my book.  I guess, like so many others that I know, we will continue to do just that, to show what disabled people are able to do.

And then it was time for bed, for both James and I the next day was a very important one.  But there was spanner lurking in the wings … “Dad have you managed to fix up my work experience?”  Well, we now have a third skylight in the bathroom, the RMS chargeable hours will be down again … but would we change anything?  Not for a million dollars.  And so, my next blog may well be about the aftermath of the interview and exams … Will James Dyson win the battle over Ross Lovegrove in the recycling stakes?  Will I have finally enhanced democracy in Wales?  We will just have to wait and see.

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One Response to “FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – Revise, Revision and Repeat and, Oh yes, the case of the clear pencil case !!”

  1. Conrad Atkinson Professor Emeritus University of California Says:

    Only just learned about the Memorial Project too late to sign up to it. In 1977 a print I made for the Slade at London University about thalidomide and Distillers Biochemical was removed from an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery and was subsequently the subject of a court case over censorship and the Arts Council of Great Britain.My contract with the Slade was terminated that year. There’s a copy of the print in the V and A Museum in london and in its publication Prints of the Twentieth Century the print is the print of the year 1977. thought you’d like to know.

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