Tuesday, March 17, 1981


Relief – the rugby match was off, and I felt as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. But now I've got roped into a six-a-side youth soccer competition that will be played in Brady Park during the spring and summer. I don't know why I was asked and I don't know why I said yes. I can’t play at all!

Parents' evening: Mum, Dad and I set off for school at about half-seven. A superb annulus around the full moon. We talked with Ingham. He extolled my virtues and said I can have my pick of History/Politics courses, but accused me of a “lack of ambition” and said I'm not working at all hard enough, just cruising along, "heading for a C or a D"! "If you really tried and did all the reading around the subject you should be doing, you could easily get an ‘A’, and you are capable of a first class honours at university. This is your last chance to correct the slide and really buckle down." He advised me to start reading the New Statesman. His comments were helpful and for a moment jolted me out of my easy-going, smug, and complacent rut.

Hine’s unhelpful ramblings about Art were next, and he was less critical than Ingham and ended by saying I was doing OK. Before my meeting to talk about English, I ran into Claire in the common room. She was upset because Hirst had written “Probable ‘A’ level failure” in large black letters at the top of her report, accused her of handing work in late, and consistently misspelling the names of characters in Persuasion. She looked so upset I felt really sorry for her.

My turn. As we strolled into B8, Hirst and Slicer were both seated behind the same desk and immediately erupted into sniggers and laughter, much to Mum and Dad’s bemusement. After we'd sat down they told us that I had real potential but that my flair for waffle and flannel – Hirst talked of the “empty elegance” of my work – was a dangerous tendency. "You don't know the texts well enough" said Slicer. Mum said I wasn’t working because "he has other things on his mind. I have an idea she floats whimsically around Egley somewhere." More hoots of laughter from Slicer. It must be really obvious!

My report was OK, but the comments about all three subjects mentioned my lack of application and poor use of free time at school. Mixed feelings as we walked home. Mum said if I don't start working harder "you've had it." Hirst and Slicer’s comments make me wonder about how obvious this Claire thing must be, and Mum clearly knows, or at least suspects, but on a different level I feel really anxious that it's not too late to start over and also that I am on the threshold of big things. Pathetically pleased that Claire talked to me.

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