As well as her ongoing ambassadorial role for the Evil Galactic Empire, my wife is studying for a degree in psychology with the Open University. Usually, this takes several years to complete as you seek to juggle your ongoing education with your other commitments. In my wife's case, this means juggling her assignments with her other work travelling around Europe, annexing small nations and subjugating entire populations. These pressures notwithstanding, she's managed to complete two modules this year, which is apparently they equivalent of a normal academic year. That's an awful lot of work, and how she manages to find the motivation to come home from a busy week at work and plough through all that study, I'll never know. She's a marvel. I think she actually finds it relaxing.
It's the end of the academic year, and just like any other university course, there have been a couple of exams to sit in the last week. It's been quite a while since we were at University, and although I actually sat an invigilated professional exam or two in March, it's been a full 20 years since my last proper exams, and I think it's been the same for C. She was pretty nervous about it, anyway, and worked even harder than normal to get the revision done, mock exam papers and everything.
It doesn't sound like exams have changed all that much: a stern invigilator, lots of clocks and a paper that requires you to write a number of essays in three hours. One thing that has changed is that nowadays you receive stern warnings about making sure that all mobile phones are switched off. If your phone rings, you are warned, you will be escorted off the premises and your exam will be over. A twenty-first century problem, perhaps, but it doesn't matter how hard you have worked for this, it can all be for nothing if you fail to silence your phone.
Some way into her exam on Monday, someone's phone rang. All the bags were piled together at the front of the room, and the invigilator began to try and find out whose bag contained the ringing phone. With a sense of creeping dread, C. realised that it was her phone. Should she come clean before she was caught red-handed? Before she could make up her mind, the phone stopped ringing before discovery and she was off the hook. The next five minutes and her concentration was shot: should she confess? Would the phone ring again? It was a working day and it was her work phone. Surely someone else would ring before the end of the exam..... But no. She's worked so hard for this, why should she throw it away now?
She didn't confess; she got on with her exam; the phone didn't ring again; she got away with it.
You know she's going to ace this, right? She couldn't underachieve at anything if she tried. Although, that said, she's always struggled to be able to coordinate all those fiddly buttons on the playstation, so she's not perfect.
It was our sixth wedding anniversary on Sunday, and we've been together since 1999. I still can't really work out what she sees in me.... but I'm delighted that she does.