Sunday 13 May 2007

Testing Times

You'll notice that Stuck In A Book (aka me) is dressed a little differently today. Indeed, he is in full academic regalia. Tomorrow my Finals begin, and will continue until the 23rd May, so I wanted to warn my regular readers - entries will be a little sporadic. In fact, if the perculiarities of the Oxford English Language and Literature Examinations hold little interest for you, it would be better to avoid this page for a week or so. Don't worry, I shan't mind.

And now let's play a little game, with the sketch. Can you spot the mistake? Other than that I appear to have become left-handed (oops). Or that there are only two pieces of paper. Or various inaccuracies of perspective. Or... Ok, the 'mistake' I'm talking about is the mortar board (or 'cap' if you're feeling in the mood for a bit of vernacular) - in Oxford, it is STRICTLY PROHIBITED to wear these items before graduation. Indeed, there is a fine of £35 to be paid, if a student is seen committing such a heinous offence. But here's the catch - we HAVE to have them in the exam hall - indeed, we are not permitted entry unless we clutch it in our nervous little hands. I daresay it would be an enormous distraction, should I glance up from my papers and notice the lack of a mortar board around me, so it all makes sense.

And the gown. Yes, not a Scholar's gown, I'm afraid (I didn't get a distinction in first year... if only I hadn't referred to Kristeva as a man) but those funny dangly bits are indeed there. Various rumours exist as to their original purpose - my favourite is that they are to hold shillings, for busking students. Seems unlikely, as they couldn't possibly perform that task. The dangly bits, not the students - I'm sure the students could busk.

Anyway, enough about the uniform (which, to disobey that injunction immediately, we voted last year to keep). I'll give a quick mention of the exams I have, and when I have them, so that you can have a vague idea of what it is an English student does - and return for those days you find particularly interesting.

Monday - Shakespeare
Tuesday - Middle English
Wednesday - 1740-1832 (which we call 'Romantic', but shouldn't)
Thursday - 1509-1642 (Renaissance)
Friday - 1642-1740 (Restoration)

the following Wednesday - Middle English commentary

And that's your lot. They've sneakily turned Middle English into two papers, so that the
optional thesis I did last September can't eradicate both of them. I.e. my final grade will be influenced by Middle English, whether I like it or not...

So, yes, I shall keep posting - but I'm afraid it'll only be updates on the topics I wrote about, and so forth. Luckily that's still quite bookish.


  1. Your note cards are making me slightly anxious, reminding me of the days when I filled them out and carried them around myself. Good luck with your exams.

  2. Glad you yourself spotted that you were left-handed (by mistake) otherwise some of might have thought that you had entered the Looking Glass world where 'caps' would be most out of place. Could it be that you have to carry them 1. to steady your shaking hands 2. to give you something to worry about other than the course content 3. to mop up ink spills?
    I'm sure there are many other possibilities more literary than mine.
    Don't forget your carnation!

  3. Monday is definietely Shakespeare day. my daughter has got her Hamlet exam today and I just had a quick panic call from her "remind me about the end". ooh er missus, thank goodness for Google or I would have probably had told her that Serbia won! If you don't understand that reference then there is probably still hope for you.

  4. We wish you the very best of luck, Simon!

  5. More Good Luck on to the good luck wished you last week end and in times before. Ellie's Shakespeare exam (SATs key stage 3) was pronounced to be awesome and that Shakespeare is really cool -what a result don't care if she fails. Hope yours is also awesome and that you too will still consider Will to be cool once all the studies are behind you! Maggie

  6. Very best wishes with all your exam writing Simon!

  7. Good luck Simon, I love all the gear and the tradition and yes those note cards make me feel nervous too.When are you finally allowed to throw that old Mortar Board in the air then? Then when you graduate I suppose you wear it everywhere, on the train, on the beach, we'll expect location shots all summer.Extreme Mortar Boarding! It's just come to me in a flash and YOU could start the craze.


I've now moved to, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at