Wednesday 22 February 2017

Exam Diary: Luckily I know my 'champignons' from champagne

Gavin Cooney

Published 16/06/2011 | 05:00

IT is fair to say that all things French aren't the most popular among Irish teens these days.

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First there was the Hand of Henry, then the ensuing aberration at the World Cup in South Africa.

If they had the decency to perform well after cheating us out of our place, it would have at least softened the blow.

It was like a Frenchman running off with your girlfriend, and then dumping her a week later. At least you could understand if they got married.

Added to that the French rugby team winning the Six Nations clash at the Aviva in February, our dislike of all things Gallic has had more substance than ever. However, an olive branch may have been extended, as yesterday's French paper was very fair.

After much fretting as to what would appear on the written section, I need not have been worried as topics such as crime, religion and social networking sites came up. There was also a question on the level of refereeing in sport and an argument over whether video technology should be introduced. Not only was I fortunate enough to have it prepared, but it would also have left a certain T Henry shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

The reading comprehensions were a mixed bag; I wasn't alone in having slight difficulties with the second text. I was dreading the aural though, as I always found the listening test extremely difficult. However, I was in for another pleasant surprise. After the Irish aural threw up a strange instance of one of the speakers calling Susan Boyle "fat" and "old-fashioned", there was a similar surprise in French, where a family had lost their son while they were picking mushrooms on the side of the road. Somehow I managed to remember the word "champignons" meant mushrooms, but others weren't so lucky. The various misinterpretations of the answer provided entertainment, ranging from "they were drinking champagne" to "they were watching the Champions League".

I was also lucky given that I had only one exam yesterday, while others faced another mammoth, two-exam slog with history.

Those who did the paper found it very challenging, with a number of surprises. The much-anticipated appearance of the Coleraine University Crisis didn't materialise, and most students were thrown by the Apprentice boys of Derry. Also, Hitler's foreign policy was not on the paper, which I am informed was a shock also. Nonetheless, both of my friends, Eve and Paul, were delighted to say the exam was the proverbial history, as it lay with O'Leary in the grave.

Today I get to take a temporary step back from the rigours of exam life, as I don't do biology or art.

Some of my friends have finished and can begin their summer but I won't see freedom until next Tuesday. However, as the French might quip, c'est la vie.

Gavin Cooney is a student at Mercy Secondary School, Ballymahon, Co Longford.

Irish Independent

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