Monday 6th Feb
Having been pummelled the week before with multitudinous and almost continual line of prize competitions, I was not far from what would have been a thoroughly embarrassing collapse in IT revived only by Mr. Sceery strangely playing Coldplay throughout the lesson while we toiled over our worksheets. From the McEachran Prize in which my talk about Myanmar failed to impress the judges sufficiently, to the UKIMC (a horrendously luck-reliant maths challenge) in which my luck did not support me at all, to the Arnold Hagger in which I hassled Dr. Oakley to tell me my results in hopes of beating an unnamed Upper 6th Former, over whom I narrowly triumphed last year. Anyway, I hoped for a relaxing week before half term and steadily I went through the lessons with full focus on, an average morning. I thought, ‘Too good to be true,’ and I was correct. A chemistry lesson with Doc. Samworth on organic chemistry forced me into my full concentration mode ignoring any attempts by others to converse with me. Lunch saw the traditional Salopian style of debating preparation, in which my entire team had only prepared on Sunday which worried me a lot. I am trying not to use the word ‘annoyed’. Simultaneously I was meant to be at Kingsland House with fellow elocutionists for the Bentley preliminary rounds for Set 1. Mr. Hann put me through after initially being sceptical by my failing memory before as this was my third attempt and still I hadn’t got it off by heart. Finally after a triumphant Junior House debate against Ridgemount in spite of the lack of preparation and a surprisingly good Benjies session where Mr. Middleton gave me the encouragement I needed to keep trying hard, the day was beginning to look up. The rest of the day was peaceful.
Tuesday 7th Feb
I was blessed with refreshing energy for a Tuesday, only to be met first lesson with a geography test mentioned only the day before. I had revised, but only for a dismal 20 minutes but received a decent mark. The day went on with the usual break time Grot Shop frenzy. The lessons as per usual went by rapidly. I was late for a Fives session by half an hour as I forgot it started at 2:30 for U15s and not 3:00. Whether or not it’s my fault that almost every Fives session starts at half past something or ten to something and other awkward timings, you must make up your mind. After a studious session of Top Schools where I yet again have to steel myself to refuse procrastination as an option, I went to Mr. Sheppe and asked him to listen to my rendition of my poem for the Bentley. I decoded and inferred from his reply a ‘no’, just the way to end the penultimate night before the Bentley.
Wednesday 8th Feb
I felt the usual Salopian morning, an overwhelming sense of debilitation. It must be close to half term. I went to the ritual 4th Form chapel and spent a lot of time debating whether the Bentley was in the Maidment Building or the Ashton Theatre as I had been told both answers on many occasions. The complicated set for the Churchill’s House Play ‘Noises Off’ is all over the Ashton, so I decided it must be the Maidment Building. I was right but Mr. Sheppe had no order for the students, leading him to choose ‘randomly’. He spun, twirled and danced around pointing at students with a typical Mr. Sheppe smile. This put everyone on their toes; it was practically a game of Russian Roulette. After everyone’s performance, we were greeted by Galin Ganchev’s incredible and perfect performance on the piano as a filler to Angus Gordon Banks’ intriguing impromptu interpretation of break dancing. Amusing enough, but not as interesting to me as the results, which showed that I had got through to the finals.
After an extended chapel choir rehearsal and Evensong at Lichfield Cathedral in which Rev. Dobbie set us additional challenges by chanting a few wrong notes, we arrived back at around 8:00, pretty happy with the performance ready to stuff ourselves with Dominos pizzas as what we considered a well-deserved reward.
Thursday 9th Feb
On my knees already, Thursday lessons for me could only be described as dispiriting. I had maths which was the lesson highlight of the day in which Ms. Pile, my maths teacher kindly reminded us, of course, about the compulsory David Harrison competition, yet another prize to work on. Lessons went past with a double organic chemistry lesson in which I could finally and proudly say that I understood the material. Skills Year was my Thursday activity - a welcome bit of exercise after an excess of brain activity. I finished my daily 15 minute revision session which I have set myself since Monday for the GCSE Religious Studies end of topic test, and ended my day on a better note with a sense of readiness.
Friday 10th Feb
Friday before half term with the routine RS Test in which unsurprisingly time was against me. Why can’t I have extra time? I was a bit worried at first as a fellow anonymous student who was supposed to be marking my paper, had his nose in the textbook instead which he was finding curiously absorbing. In each successive lesson, I observed an increasing amount of jittery movement, boys impatient for half term to start. Finally after I had my session of Fives, I could relax. With Mr. Hudson relaxing the end of first half term bedtimes, I had an extremely late night which would be my undoing on the Saturday morning.
Saturday 11th Feb
Six hours of sleep later, it was Saturday and at an astonishingly sluggish pace I had a shower and got dressed and prepared for half term. I collected my bags and left, not realising how heavy folders and books were, I walked far too slowly to the back of KH, and the coach had gone, leaving me marooned at school, a massive ‘chin-up’ as Salopians would say. Fortunately, I was rescued by Mr. Hudson who drove me to the train station where I got myself to my destination. Sleeping (and a bit of studying) will be my main activity for this half term.