Fallout

I remember taking my O level in English Language a year early at school. English was my favourite subject, I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up (luckily that was one bit of careers advice I chose to ignore - I ended up becoming a careers adviser), so I thought I was in a great position to get a bit of a head start on all the real clever bastards in my year by going one-nil up on most of them.

The day of the exam came with (as usual for me) very little in the way of preparation. How can you prepare for making up stories I reasoned? (should have done that journalism course really). I went into the hall with the chosen few English Language boffs and sat the exam. I wrote 14 pages of fiction in three hours. The envigilating teacher eventually told us to put down our pens and mine was already in my pencil case back in my big black briefcase with the West Ham stickers down the side.

I was sitting back with my hands behind my head, nodding all knowingly to the few around me, all of them wet with perspiration and looking worried. I had done it, I knew it.

I went home that day glowing and all studious to my parents telling them that I had nailed it, that a pass was in the bag, that they could get that crisp ?5 note ready for me and might as well hand it over right now.

But of course the worst thing about exams of this nature is that you dont find out the outcome straight away.

My fellow pupils began to talk about their interpretation of the exam questions and my initial confidence sagged slightly when they ALL seemed to have read the question in a slightly different way than me. Bugger. Then they all talked about how hard it had been chugging through 23 pages, or 26 pages of work in the time given, and how many times they had had to ask for extra paper. Extra paper? I had managed to get to the end of the booklet they gave you and thought that was good. Bollocks.

The day after the exam became the week after the exam became the month after the exam, and in all this time, that bloody exam became this huge mamoth gaping chasm that threatened to overwhelm me, to show me up as a cocky no knowthing git.

What seemed like a year later, the envelope finally arrived at my house, a tiny brown thing that had seemed to symbolise everything that I was about at aged 15. Pass and I would be revered by my peers, fail and I would be a nobody, like 95% of them who hadnt taken the exam early.

With trepidation and a trembling hand I tore the corner of the envelope and ripped across the top to pull out the folded paper inside. I unfolded it and saw the letter A in the middle of a lot of other blurb about examining boards. A f*cking 'A' grade!

A few days of gloating followed, along with spending my crisp ?5 on cider and drinking it over the park late one night with mates. Longer term, further exams followed and everyone caught up with me, overtook me, surpassed me academically and left me in their wake. But the consequences of that exam pass to me on that day at that time were to me the most important thing I had faced. Looking back on it now, it was a significant thing that happened to me in the fact that it turned out to be my only A graded qualification. And that is about it.

All this time later the significance of passing or not passing that exam mean pretty much nothing; would have never held me back from progressing career wise and wouldnt have stopped me doing any of the things I did or do in my life.

Today an independent panel of people will be making a decision based on some pretty flimsy, emotionally driven and in parts downright inaccurate evidence to reverse the decision to not dock points from our team earlier this year. The consequences of this decision could have massive implications for West Ham, its supporters and immediate future. Right now this is all I can think about, along with thousands of fellow Hammers. And I must admit that as time has elapsed and the media machine has jumped on the Fair Play for Whingeing Northerners bandwagon, that doubts have crept into my head.

What if the Premier League capitulates to the Campaign for Human Rights for Northerners and reverses their decision and docks us 3 points? What if we then take them to court over the decision? What about our chances of bringing players in? What about next season? What about Carlos Tevez? Just like waiting for my exam result I am now feeling pretty jittery about the whole thing. The immediate fallout will be pretty devastating.

Either way (immediate period of bragging or slagging aside), I would hope that whatever the outcome of the hearing, that the long term implications of today will not affect us for more than the forthcoming season if it goes badly for us, or for the next few days of finger pointing and clinking of glasses and beer cans if it goes as we hope it will.

In the meantime, I just cant wait for someone to be tearing open that brown envelope and putting us out of our misery once and for all.

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