IT’S EXAM RESULTS WEEK. Grades are being announced.
If you’re a straight A student, you’re fine. For the rest of us, let me tell you a true story.
My dear old dad gave me some advice when I was 15.
I thanked him. And I meant it, too. Who ever heard of a parent giving a kid permission to fail every subject?!
“Thanks, Dad!” I trashed my schoolbooks and headed off to the park with my little friends to do our usual charming childish activities, such as playing on the swings, loitering with intent, causing criminal damage, etc. Then we formed a rock band called Can’t Think Of A Name.
(Mr Jam, leader of Can’t Think of a Name)
Despairing, one wise teacher came up with a plan. Kids learn fast at things that interest them, right?
She put me down for a music exam.
It seemed like a good plan.
But there was a problem: The exam hall had no piano and the music room no desks. So we had to go to the music room, listen to the music examiner play a melody, and then, holding the tune in their heads, walk to the exam hall to answer questions on it.
Everything went to plan.
We heard the tune, memorized it, and were halfway back to the exam hall. Then someone in one of the practice rooms started playing The Entertainer (theme from The Sting). This is the world’s most infectious tune.
So I answered questions on The Entertainer instead. Two hours later, on the way home, I remember thinking: That was probably not a smart thing to have done.
(Incidentally, if any readers think they’re not going to make it to college, don’t despair. The billionaire who invented PayPal, the first internet payment system, is handing out free US$100,000 bundles to teenagers who want to be entrepreneurs instead of students. I recommend using the money to hire consultants to think of better names for your rock bands.)
Anyway, two months after that grim exam, my school’s music teacher called me privately into her office to give me my results. To my surprise, she was smiling.
“Congratulations,” she said. “You came top of the class.”
“Really?” I said. “That’s amazing. Are you sure?”
She handed me the official computer print-out from the music exam board and I ran my eyes over it.
“Wait,” I said. “According to this I got an F. I failed.”
Still smiling, she nodded. “You got an F. Everyone else in the class was classified as ungradeable. You’re my best student.”
I felt really sorry for her.
But I couldn’t help but smile inside. I ran home to show my Dad the results. He’d be thrilled.
Then I planned to spend some time finishing the songs for my band’s first album. It was called Can’t Think Of A Title.
So, kids, if you didn’t do as well as you expected, don’t worry. I failed my exams, and look at me now.
Many people are travelling on holidays at the moment. I’ve told all my editors that I won’t be writing columns for printing for a couple of weeks. So apologies to readers who expect to see me in their newspapers. I’ll probably start doing newspaper columns again at the beginning of next month. But I’m not going anywhere, and will still post stuff here—so drop me a line or give me a call if you have any bright ideas on trouble we can get up to!