Monday, August 8, 2016

Here I stand head in hand, turn my face to the wall (The Beatles)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 3)

One more year of abject failure still had to be endured before school life would start to improve. 

Look for the smallest guy in row 2 (behind Mr Herbert)
As 1973 dawned I found myself in Senior 5. I guess it was called that to make us feel like we were seniors but I was woefully naive and deep into teenage boy fog.

In retrospect, as there was 'Upper 5', 'Junior 5' and so on, there may well have been other reasons for calling it Senior 5 as it was made up of new fifth formers and some incorrigible repeaters; some real hard nuts, like Brian Wood, who gave the teachers complete crap whenever they could. A renaissance man with a poem published in 1973's The Albertian, Brian was hilarious!

Fifth form meant sitting School Certificate: the first big hurdle that had to be negotiated to get into sixth form. It was replaced by Level 1 NCEA in NZ.

Truly, I spent the year in a daze. I can remember nothing specific about the year - who my teachers were, or what I studied. Nothing. In terms of the classroom, it's like 1973 didn't exist.

Instead, I lived in another world: an alternative universe - writing to my cousin Christine who lived in the far off kingdom of England where my music and football team came from, playing football and listening to music. That's what I remember.

After Deedoo and Grandma came back from their world cruise in 197o/71, they brought me back two wonderful presents: a magazine from the Daily Mirror celebrating Arsenal's double (I instantly fell in love with Charlie George and the team), and an address in Rochdale.

When I started writing to her,  Christine Purdy, a few years older than me, became the big sister I never had. Only a few family relationships now survive: little brother Ross and Christine.

When November rolled around and the exams started I was terribly nervous and amazingly immature as a student. As per 1971 and 1972, it's not that I didn't try, it's that I didn't know shit and I was found out big time. We were living at a rental in Asquith Avenue in Mt Albert while Ramelton Road was being built. I remember throwing up at home in the garage before heading off to my maths exam. Clearly, I wasn't in the best shape for three hour exams.

To pass and move to the sixth form I needed to get four subjects over 50%. When the results came out in January, I had failed spectacularly in French, in maths, in chemistry, in geography.  

The good news was little consolation: a prize for art and a pass in English, but just barely, with 50%. Subsequently, my 48% for geography went to 50% on a recount.

Two subjects was a long way off the target. Those days, at this school, the next year meant a repeat of fifth form and another attempt at School Certificate.

Crap. My brother was catching up to me. There was no chance the boy genius wouldn't fly through School C. I was worried.

Under 16A -Look for the smallest guy in the back row - I was  really immature! In front of me - Pete Cahill, to his left Steven Sinclair, and to his right goalie extraordinaire: Mike Budd.
Championship co-winners! 
Luckily some of my friends also failed and had to repeat. Michael Budd and Pete Cahill were two. When I phoned Mike, I felt a huge sense of relief - he too had missed the magic number of marks needed. Mike, Pete and me. We had a few things in common - we were dumped back in Senior 5, and we were all footballers who'd been playing together for two or three years, and we loved the same music.

What would 1974 do to us? Would we pass and go to the sixth form? Would we fail? What would that mean?

It was a scary time, but I had no choice in the matter. I was a second year fifth!

Love and peace - Wozza

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