so marking exams then

For several summers throughout the ridiculously labelled “noughties” I worked as a marker of exam papers; and it would be around this time of year that I was in the midst of it all.

I would venture a personal opinion (and emphatically not that of any organisation to which I am in any way affiliated) that the experience is in some ways akin to what I imagine prison is like. For a period of three weeks you are not at liberty to think of anything but the assessment of papers. Metaphorical mail bags, if you will. Remuneration for the completed mail bags realistically works out at around £12 per hour. While many may reflect that this is a decent rate of pay, I always at that point in the conversation make a comparison between a teacher and a solicitor (similarly qualified professional people). Go to any high street solicitor (or a backstreet one for that matter). Then venture to suggest that you would like an hour of their time for a maximum fee of £12. Clap your hands to your ears, shielding your soul from their demonic laughter, and head for the nearest milk bar to drown your disappointment.

Sure: you can make a couple of thousand, but you have forgotten what your family look like and your mind has the consistency of porridge. As you stare out across the sea on the first day of your coastal break, sucking on a cold one, you are aware that you have fried your creativity fuse and that it may take until the end of August to mend it. This year, I have installed a 30 amp surge-resistant special and all the circuits are switched into Channel 1. Reception is clean and clear. Cool.