Friday, 14 November 2014

Yesterday there were more people than

I expected getting off the train station near the show grounds. Some of them were obviously heading for the craft fair - mostly pairs of older women who were having a "girls' day out". Two of them actually told me, "The boys have gone fishing. Mad, in this heat."
The "boys" probably didn't last too long. I saw the two women much later in the day. They were still enjoying themselves.
The other train travellers appeared to be students and I knew why they were there.
The other big halls in the show grounds are used for exams at this time of the year. The universities can no longer accommodate the ever increasing numbers of students. The halls are used instead of the much smaller places in the grounds of all three universities.
I looked in - from a distance - through the open doors and saw row upon row of individual desks.  I looked around and saw students chatting, students taking a last minute look at notes, students talking on their phones and texting messages, students looking anxious and one student sitting on the steps with his head down while someone else talked him through what was obviously a severe anxiety attack.
I hope the air conditioning was working well in those halls. It worked reasonably well where we were. I thought of those students occasionally as I helped my friend on her stall. We had a good day. Sales were good. People want to come to the craft fair and most people are pleasant, polite and interested.
I wonder whether anyone really wants to do an exam though - except to "get it over and done with"? I know I hated trying to do exams. My brother would always be irritable before one. One of my sisters would often have a bilious attack. Only my youngest sister, the least academic of all of us, would go to an exam apparently unconcerned. I suspect she felt no pressure to do well and was therefore quite relaxed about it.
In the early afternoon there was a customer at the stand I am working on. She was young. She was dressed in the student uniform of jeans and t-shirt. She had the requisite student back-pack and a curiously relieved expression on her face.
"You've just finished an exam?" I asked her. She look a little bit startled and then grinned.
"I've just finished all of them. I promised myself  I could have something after they were over."
We talked about what she might want to try and she settles for a kit that my friend has put together. Then she looks at a vest I have just finished making. I have to finish writing the pattern for it but I promise to send her a free copy via e-mail. Why?
Next year she has another exam of a different sort. She is going to start teaching in the far north of the state. She was the first person in her family to go to university and she admitted it was very hard but she has, I am sure, passed that last exam.
I know I probably won't see her again but I will send her the pattern. I am also proud to have met, however briefly, a young indigenous Australian with the determination to do all the exams life throws her way.  

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