Oops mister cheatyface?

Apologies for yesterday and my attempted writings. I didn’t really know who I was by then. Apparently two of us burnt through five bottles of red wine and almost hit the spirits before it got too much for us. I don’t think I’ve done anything like that for a long long time, but we had time and I had motive. I was fuming about some stupid annoying dumb ridiculous news.

This evening I’ve been having a wonderful time. I got to properly hang out with my dear brother and some of his work colleagues. Then I went home and had dinner with lovely Tom who is staying with me. And I earned some money.

For pretty much 20 years now, thanks to my old drama school friend Abigail, I’ve been periodically dayjobbing as an invigilator at Imperial College. I can fit it around my schedule. Frequently I’ve even done it when I’ve got an evening show. Usually it’s quite pleasant and contemplative work. You build the room, you set the atmosphere, you bring in the candidates, you troubleshoot, and then… you collate all the stuff and call your own end and hopefully they do well.

“Have you ever caught anyone cheating?” I get asked that a lot and have always said “no”.

Catching cheats is not my focus. I’m trying to make a nice exam. I like that concentrated room. Hell, I’ve learnt tons of lines in exam rooms because my eyes rarely need to be down when I’m learning so I can watch and learn. If someone does something odd I’ll zero in on them. I hadn’t realised how obvious they would make themselves until today though when it’s off the scale odd.

He was five minutes late, so of course he missed the announcements about being sure his phone wasn’t with him. He went to the loo for about fifteen minutes an hour into the exam. I realised he was long gone after he was gone for ten. I went to find the invigilator who had taken him. She was waiting outside looking confused. “I didn’t know how to contact you?” I went into the big shared loo space and called his name, which caused an immediate fit of deliberate coughing to come from his cubicle, followed thereafter by him. He had not coughed at all for an hour and a half but suddenly he was coughing hard and continued for the rest of the exam, bless his commitment. I searched him immediately and of course he had his mobile phone in his pocket. An oversight? It really didn’t want to fuck him over, but he was generating rope to hang himself. I didn’t check the cubicle. Schoolboy error.

Three minutes before the end of the exam he insisted on going back to the loo and the same cubicle and when he was again searched he this time had a folded up piece of paper on him that he didn’t have before… I ended up having to give it all to the exam office, and leave it with Jo.

This is this guy’s expensive degree. I am not in the business of fucking anyone over, and frankly if you can cheat well enough to beat me then well done – that’s how the world works. But for fuck’s sake… If you can’t even do the basics you deserve everything you get. Honestly, over ten minutes in the loo and then you’re in and out of it as a matter of urgency but somehow getting paper from it with stuff written on it and then actually when you’re in the exam office later and you’re writing your version of events for the head of exams you’re not coughing and you’re not sick for a clear half hour after all the demonstrative coughing… Bullshit, mate. He was not alone in it, he was just terrible at lying and blew it for everyone else. I feel bad for him as actually I’m like that too. He was sweaty faced and panicky. He was a decent young man, but clearly hadn’t done the work and had tried to get involved in some stupid undergraduate scheme. I reckon they were using a particular cubicle basically as a dead-drop for questions and answers. In a two hour exam, I’ve never known so many people to take loo breaks. Next time I’ll check the bog brush.

These guys will all be earning loads in a few years. These courses are not easy to get onto, and those who get on them would have to work hard not to be rich. I kinda hope that idiot doesn’t lose his degree because of a stupid idea and a few points on his mark. But… he’s an idiot. It’s an exam. Work to it. If you honestly haven’t and can’t, don’t show up as they’ll pretty much always let you retake it. But … you can try to cheat, and you will probably end up looking stupid. And if I’m invigilating I’ll only feel sad about it. Funny idiot. I was nice and light hearted to him right until he got into the office with Jo but I knew it was going to be bad for him. He must have had a horrible day because of me. I don’t want it to cost him his degree.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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