Business Studies was the future, the way forward and the subject I chose to take at school during my final two years, in the mistaken belief that I would have a secure job for life, when I finally set foot in the big wide World. Of course nothing ever pans out the way it should, and the path I followed took many twists and turns as I tried to navigate my rite of passage, after compulsory education. Business Studies in 1985 was rather different to the technology lessons of today. I was proud to be studying a subject that was new, untried and untested in the curriculum, but its very nature would be alien to most youngsters today. My appreciation of 1980s contemporary education wouldn’t last for long.
The school bell rang out, signalling the final lesson of the week. It was Friday afternoon, as I begrudgingly meandered towards class, dragging my brown Adidas bag behind me. Scraping it along the floor, I knocked everyone and everything in my path, I just didn't care. Apathetic, unconcerned, with hunched back, looking downwards, I reluctantly moved into last position, in the queue outside room 18. Business and information studies wasn’t the most agreeable option I had chosen, and it seemed as though I was just going through the motions, turning up to a session, I didn’t enjoy.
‘Form a line, keep your chatter down and make your way into class; quickly, don’t dawdle,’ directed Mrs White. Her monotone voice used to grate on me, always the harbinger of migraines and an overbearing sense of gloom. She wasn’t a teacher I liked in any sense at all, there was no bond or respect and our disdain for one another clear as day. However, I had leant to live with her oppressive nature and her dulcet tones, just wafted past me; I didn’t even listen any more.
The scraping of chairs, banging of equipment on desks, jostling and high jinx, always took up the first five minutes of any lesson, this one no different. I slouched down in my chair, sighing under my breath, eyes rolling at the thought of yet another hour of languor and lassitude. Immediately I switched off, thinking about what I was going to do on the weekend. Escaping reality was invariably a big part of my day; I was a daydreamer, always looking for stories to tell.
‘Attention, all of you, settle down and put the covers on your typewriters, fingers on home keys, and we will begin!’ signalled Mrs white, as she stood hands on hips, looking over the top of her tortoiseshell half moon spectacles.
‘All of you need to get your words per minute ratio up, if you are going to pass your Pitman Certificates; you are not doing well, far from it!
Business studies in the mid 1980s consisted of an old typewriter, keys covered with a wooden platform and an expectation of typing as fast as you could. In all but name, I was training to be a secretary, there was no business acumen involved. Occasionally, once a week, we would make our way to the information suite, in the upper level of H block. Huddled around a single BBC B Computer, we created databases, printed out on reams and reams of perforated paper, spewed loudly from an old dot matrix printer. That was the only redeeming feature, of a lesson I hated more and more. Losing interest through lack of motivation and inspiration, I longed for the day, I would never have to see Mrs Whites face again, it couldn't come soon enough.
The wooden cover was great for resting ones head on, through an hour-long episode of clicking keys, headache inducing fluorescent lights and the booming voice of a frustrated old spinster, who gave up her position in the civil service, to dedicate her life to the torment of children like me. My only saving grace – getting caught having a brief snooze at the back of class and being sent outside for the duration. Oddly, when the results were in, I passed my certificate with flying colours, to the indignation of my school time nemesis. The look on her face was priceless, the expression on mine was amazement; relief, it was finally, all over!
47 year old Author, Columnist and Blogger.