13. Ich bin ein False Examiner

And so I ran down North Street, late for my exam board. As I ran, I heard a woman calling my name, and I turned. ‘Hello,’ she said. ‘I’ve been sent to meet you. We’re just about to start the subject exam board, and then we’ll have the all-school meeting later in the day.’ I agreed that this was a fine plan, and she whisked me into the Buchanan building and up the stairs. I hadn’t been there before, and I had no time to attend to anything as she talked about the weather, and the train, and declining standards, and the difficulties of choosing a reliable external examiner, until we reached an unremarkable office door. She opened it and ushered me inside. ‘Here’s my office,’ she said. ‘Coffee, before we begin?’

She left, and I sat down and checked my emails. After a while, I looked around me. How strange, I thought, for a Russianist to have so many books in German. Shelves and shelves of them.

I was sidling out of the door when the woman appeared again. ‘We’ve run out of coffee, Karen,’ she said, ‘so I’m just popping to the union.’ I nodded.

Later that day I saw her in the all-school board meeting, accompanied by a woman with long red hair who was introduced to me as Karen, the German external examiner. Hello, I said. Hello, she said. And then we both looked away, and I went back to my discussion of the first year paper in Russian history, full of bloodshed, revolutions and its Tsar Dmitrys, I, II,  and III, pretenders one and all.


Fridge magnet with tea rota, kitchen (pencil and digital colour)