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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Going for a song

It is a truth universally acknowledged that May heralds three guaranteed things: exams, hot weather and Eurovision.  The three are eternally entwined in my mind, perhaps owing to 1998.

1998 was a tough year for me, as it was the last year of high school and a lot of pressure with A-levels, compounded by a school that liked to crank up the pressure.  ("Eight hours of revision a day really isn't enough, girls.")  Additionally we had the Leavers' Musical to look forward to (a totally mad idea where the upper sixth put on a musical in - if memory is accurate - five days.  The cast almost always had a lot more fun than the audience.).  On top of all this, the UK exam system means there was the threat of university places being whisked away if we didn't meet our predicted grades.  It wasn't a lot of fun.

It was a Saturday.  My first A-level exam was on Monday.  Mr Nunn, clearly mindful of the pressures I was under, decided I needed to let my hair down a bit.  He invited over my friend Jennie for a stir-fry and an evening of Eurovision... and provided us with a beer from each country.  The idea was that we'd drink the beer of the corresponding country as they sang in Eurovision.  To this day I have no idea where he found Estonian beer.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, each Eurovision song is approximately two minutes long.  A swotty 18 year-old who had never really been drunk before, found herself trying to force down her bottle of Estonian Saku before her Spanish San Miguel and Italian Peroni.  All within about 12 minutes.  Even with Terry Wogan padding it out as much as possible, it went swiftly to my head.

Suffice it to say, I don't remember much of the contest.  I'm fairly sure I went to bed (passed out?) before the judging.  And over the next few days I developed pharyngitis and was pretty much unable to speak for my entire French Oral exam.  Not that I think I can blame that specifically on Mr Nunn, but it doesn't hurt to try.

I can't remember what questions I was asked in my French Oral exam, which topics came up in History, or which texts I answered on in English, but every year when Eurovision rolls round, despite not having watched it for over a decade, I remember our Eurovision Beer Contest, and it makes me smile a lot more than the memory of May exams ever does.

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