Most of you probably know me as a guy who writes about computer games sometimes, and music even sometimeser. I suspect few of you know me primarily as a guy who’s trying to finish a degree. But I’m also doing just that! Look at me multitask!
I have just a few months to go, then (assuming I don’t fail) I shall be Lewis Denby, Cunning Linguist. As some of you might know, in order to showcase that I am indeed qualified for such an honour, I am researching the ways in which people communicate via Twitter. If you haven’t already read this and agreed to participate in the study, I shall assume you have absolutely no care or respect for either the sciences or the arts. But if you sign up quickly, I might not notice.
But the typical time constraints that arrive due to the academic year being about three minutes long, I also have exams to do at the same time as I’m doing this research. And, of course, at the same time as trying to pretend I’m an actual, qualified games journalist so that people pay me money for writing about my stupid hoby. IN ITALICS. And tomorrow is my final exam until the very end of the year. And it’s on Language and Gender. And I should probably be revising for it, except I’ve got to that stage where information stops going in.
You’ve probably all finished your education, because I’m the young one. And you probably look back and go “Ha! If I had my time again, I’d love it. It was way better than this working-full-time malarkey.” And you’re probably right, but you can still go suck a goose. Because I’ve managed to condense my notes for my Language & Gender exam, in which I shall be writing about the notion of Gay and Lesbian Language as well as ideas of Social Constructionism and Post-Structuralism, into four pages. Which might not sound like a lot. But that’s four pages of what basically amount to key-words. As a guide to how many notes were there in the first place, well, we had three hours of tuition per week for 11 weeks. 33 hours’ worth of things to remember, then reappropriate in exam format. It is the most astonishing amount of things I’ve ever had to understand and remember in one go.
But the real reason I’m writing this, the real thing I need to have a good moan about, the real thing that makes examinations so irrefutably horrible, is the fucking wrist-strain.
Typically, in an exam at the University of Leeds, you have two hours in which to write your answers. Two hours is nowhere near long enough to write your answers. It’s the perfect time for an exam in the sense that, stretched much longer, you do begin to lose the will to live. But two hours to write about 33 hours’ worth of stuff is a cripplingly short amount of time. And so, each exam, I find myself scrawling at the most superhuman speed, while still trying to keep my script legible enough to be accurately marked. The result, always, about 70 minutes in, is impossible cramp.
My hand siezes up. It locks shut. I actually have to use the other hand to stretch my thumb back out again, which is the most agonisingly painful thing, made all the worse by the fact I can’t swear because if I open my mouth I get shot, or something. Finally, the cramp will go away. And I’ll start to write again. And then it’ll come back. Every two minutes. Until the end of the exam. Without fail.
My dad’s into running in a big way. He runs three or four times a week, over spectacular distances – his standard training route is 11 miles. To put that into perspective, the furthest I have ever run is six miles, and I couldn’t walk for 24 hours afterwards. He also knows a decent amount about sports science, considering his trade is as an architectural illustrator. Last night, he told me there is no evidence to suggest the causes of cramp. It’s just something that seems to happen. No one understands it. So, I suspect, I am doomed to at least 50 minutes of agony tomorrow, right at the time when I’m trying to explain the notion of Queer Theory and not childishly giggle at the fact that there’s a researcher in the field called Fagot.
Wish me luck.