Saturday, 10 December 2011

Bernice II. Back with a vengeance!

I know, I had promised to do a little series of Oxford blogs, but a situation has arisen today of sufficient ridiculousness to postpone them. I'll tell you all about it.
Today, I had my driving theory test. Because of various things, the internet told me that I had to do it on 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning, and go to a location in town, to 'Pearson's Professional Test Centre' to take my test. Getting up was difficult, as you might expect, but I managed it, and my wonderful father agreed to take me, through the frost and cold, to said location. I gathered my documentation bits and bobs I thought I might need, and arrived at arrived at 'Pearson's Professional Test Centre', which turned out to be a couple of rooms on the second floor of an unattractive office block.
Having navigated the corridors and stairwells and things, I arrived at a desk. Behind this desk, an overweight man was sat looking pleased with himself. I should explain that on my way through the corridors, a girl had walked past me in tears, saying 'He wouldn't f***ing let me take the test'. This didn't bode well, but I was not too unnerved. Anyway, I presented this man (we will call him Terry. He looked like a Terry) with my provisional license, my letter confirming my test, and an official looking piece of paper the DVLA had sent with my provisional. He looked over them and asked where my counterpart license was. In truth, I had no idea what this was, but pointed at the official looking piece of paper.
But Terry was not happy with this. He said 'This is not a counterpart license. This has nothing to do with your license' (By now I had realised that I should have brought the other official looking piece of paper with me, which came in the same envelope)
'Isn't this one proof enough?' I pleaded.
'No,' replied Terry, 'this is nothing to with it.' Oh really? Nothing to do with it, you say? Well it came in the same envelope, its from the same organisation, its the same colour and is signed by the same flipping person! If I had brought the results sheet from the last time I played laser quest, that would be 'nothing to do with it. This, on the other hand, is definitely something to do with it.
Next, he told me to sit down in the waiting area whilst he checked that I 'actually had an appointment'. I'm sorry? Checked I had an appointment? Did he think for a second I would have got out of bed for 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning, wandered through the minus goodness knows what temperature, through the world's fifth worst city, to this dismal office block, so I could stand in front of the likes of him with his receding hairline and his official lines, his booking system and his identification lanyard, pretending to have a driving theory test, in the hope that I will slip through the net, and get to sit in front of a computer, and decide what colour reflective studs indicate a slip road on a motorway?! OF COURSE I 'ACTUALLY HAVE AN APPOINTMENT' YOU STUPID MAN!
But, being British, I said none of that, and sat down in the waiting area, whilst he poked my name into his computer with his podgy fingers. 25 seconds later, I was summoned to my feet, so he could tell me that I was on the list, surprisingly, but without 'correct documentation' it was a 'legal requirement' that he could not 'permit' me to sit my test, and I would have to re-book. This could 'be done online for the cost of £31, and should take no more than 5 minutes, thank you very much, have a good day'.
At this point, even after he had reeled off his recorded message speech about legal requirements, I was retaining my calm. It was only 10 to 8, I might be able to stall him, whilst I sent for the 'correct documentation'. 'When is the latest you could have the license by?'. 'Not a moment after 8' he replied instantly and smugly.
Instead of reason with this idiot, I rang my dad, told him what I needed, and asked him to bring it as soon as possible, in the sure knowledge that common sense was not something Terry was acquainted with.
To cut a long story short, I got it in time by the grace of God, and ran back up to Terry's desk. Terry, looking rather disappointed with my success, did however seize the opportunity to lecture me. 'If your dad had to go through any red lights I bet you'll be paying the fine' and 'I bet you'll be washing up for the rest of the week' were his 2 favourites, I think. I somehow managed to ignore him, mainly because I was too out of breath to tell him what an unreasonable, pernickety, not funny, jobsworth I thought he was, and simply carried on to the 'test area'.

I'm pleased to say, I passed the test, and will hopefully never encounter Terry again. As I was leaving, he was on his mobile, which he had told me was 'strictly prohibited' talking to his 'mate' about their arrangements for that evening. He did look up to shoot him a glance, similar in nature to the arrow that took out King Harold's eye in 1066. Bulls eye.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

You're from WHERE?

Good day readers. I have recently returned from 4 days of interviews at Oxford University. I know, I thought I was too thick as well! Before I embark on this blog, I should say that I did come across some thoroughly wonderful people, who were nothing but friendly and warm, not to mention ludicrously intelligent.
I went with the expectation of meeting a group of Etonians and Harrowians (what actually is the term for them?), gilet wearing, Bullingdon Club members, do-you-know-who-my-father-is, Tory voting hooray Henrys. And whilst such people were in the minority, they were present.
I think what I shall do is a series of posts examining, in minute detail, as I tend to, the more quirky experiences, but this first one will be a tribute to the plot and sub-plot of a standard conversation.

Right, so the big writing is the actual utterance, and the little writing is the meaning behind it.

Person A: Hi there. What are you applying for?
I am now asserting my superiority over you by ensuring that I am the one who is brave enough to start conversation. Whilst I respect you sufficiently to acknowledge your existence, I consider myself superior enough to address you in this overbearing manner. However, you do look rather intelligent, so please don't be applying for my course.
Person B: Oh hi. I'm applying for PPE. How about you?
My use of Oh hi shows your talking to me is an inconvenience. I want you to go away, but I will do the decent thing and reply. I wonder if you know what PPE actually stands for. If not, you are stupid. I pause between PPE and How about you to make clear that I am not remotely interested, I just know the formula of conversation.
Person A: Geography
Phew! And I do a proper subject with a proper name. Onus now on you to extend this conversation or appear rude.
Person B: Oh wow, how interesting. Whereabouts are you from?
That is not interesting, and I have nothing to ask about your subject. I don't care where you're from, but I hope its a Labour seat so I know I am richer than you.
A: Preston. Yourself?
Oh no, he's played his trump card there. I will never be able to save face. I must get out of this conversation at once.
B: How lovely. I'm from Tunbridge Wells
Wonderful, I am better than you after all! I bet you go to a Comprehensive school and live in a slum and eat baked beans out of a trough with the rest of your disgusting family, garnished with a couple of dead dogs, on your hands and knees surrounded by vomit and flies in a slum. I, however, am 78th in line to the throne.
A:I went on holiday there once
I'm not a complete sad case! Honest!
B: Oh...
I knew we should have tightened border control. Keep the riff raff out.
B: Well I'd better be off now, see you soon. Good luck with your interviews
I need to go before I lose my hygiene by osmosis. I hope your interviews are a disaster and I never see you again.

I will once more stress that I was engaged in no conversation with a sub-plot even remotely similar to this one. Both the candidates I met and the undergraduate helpers were wonderfully kind, friendly and welcoming. But the imagination does wonder, doesn't it...