Exam Blues

“Define ‘ideology’ as used in the item,” question 1a demands. Two marks.

I stare at the ‘1a’ I have written in my margin with a blue ball-point pen. Ideology. It’s a word I’d use all the time, but in an exam, what genius could calmly define the abstract?

Surely everyone can define ideology. Stop being so bloody stupid, Kevin.

I bring a hesitant pen to the first line and write ‘ideology refers to’ in overly-neat handwriting. Ideology, ideology, ideology. Something about ideas, aims, a way of looking at the world.
Fuck tests.

Y’know what, not just ‘fuck tests,’ fuck the whole shebang. Being taught to pass tests. Being brainwashed by an all-controlling educational authority, every scrap of your knowledge filtered by their magic-and-wonder-remover, rammed into you by a monotone drill; taught how to be bored, to cope with dull meniality, to leech the creativity from your brain and channel it on shit you couldn’t care about. Existing so your parents can dump you somewhere while they work, so the state can warp a child into a drone.

See, I might not know what ‘ideology’ means, but I still got the grasp of Sociology.

I press an angry pen against the paper until it cracks under the stress, bleeding electric blue over my hands, tear-drops of an imminent fail leak from the wic and splash on the paper like a sick cartoon.
Stay cool, I tell myself. 90 minutes in this test, and so far, 15 of them you’ve wasted on ruining your paper and breaking your pen. I put my hand up and attempt to get the invigilator’s attention.

Time carries us all forwards. I try to use the scribbling of my peers and the ticking of the clock to pace my heart. These invigilators are a fucking joke. Stop standing around making eye gestures at each other and help me.

20 minutes. Is Jeremy Beadle going to pop out? What are you invigilators doing to my future?

21 minutes. The frustration builds like a pressure cooker. I can feel myself choking on it. I’ve cleared my throat so many times the pupils around me are giving themselves shots against the dreaded lurgy.

22 minutes now. My armpits leak like a broken faucet. My heartbeat deafens.

And I snap. “Oi,” I shout, smashing my way through the concrete straightjacket of exam-hall rules. Waves of students spin around, sharing in the extraordinary experience of someone who dared vibrate their vocal chords in an exam.

And an invigilator finally notices. He doesn’t look happy. Maybe it’s because he’s fat. He waddles over to my desk and slams his chubby hands on it.

“Name and candidate number,” he mutters.

And my mind races, and my eyes haze with a red mist. I’m not failing this because he’s not doing his job. “You must be joking, asking me that, you guys make me so fucking mad, oh my God it’s bad enough I’ve got to do tests without this shit,” I rant, jumping out of my seat and throwing my exam paper at him. He steps back, ducking as I follow it up with my seat. A group of startled-looking students dart away from the carnage like bowling pins.

Everyone realises that this vital exam has now been rain-checked. Kids scatter as the invigilator and I circle each other, feinting, ducking, eyeballing each other. And this ordered school hall, the hub of this prison, has become the Collosseum, where a college student and a wizened old fatty will fight for glory.

He lunges first. I dart out of the way, sprint to the other side. I unbuckle my belt. He follows, wheezes, staggers against desks, as I let my undergarments fall to the floor and start to shit.

The faeces crackles out with ease and lands in my hand, as warm as a fresh cake. I grip it, a plasticine hang grenade, and hurl it at my adversary. It slaps against the wall behind him, breaks into a thousand nuggets, rains down upon the screaming audience. I cock my leg and lay another, grinning at the invigilator’s bewilderment and apprehension.

And it soars through the air, strikes him square in the jaw, splats like jelly, knocks him into a sprawl on the floor. He moans, wipes the nuts and fibre from his eyes, and slides away from me, cursing loudly.

I take my dirtier hand and daub ‘fuck tests’ on the wall and flee.

And at that moment, I thought of the perfect definition for ‘ideology’.