My final (UK)college exam was a cosmology paper. It was an afternoon exam on the twenty eighth of June. After the paper, which seemed to go well, my classmates and I went for a few pints in the local. That was it, after two years hard work my A-Levels were finished.
After leaving college my dad was on my back to get a job the second I asked for a couple of pound. This is not something I can or should complain about as both my parents were understanding with me when I told them I thought it best that I didn't work whilst studying. So after some advice from my mam and consulting a few friends I decided to sign on to jobseekers allowance whilst looking for work.
Anyone who has been in such a place as the 'Job Centre',to sign on in a big city could tell you it is quite an intimidating place for a twenty year old, ten stone when wet through, young lad. I must admit I was pretty anxious, but the ends certainly justified the means in this case.
So, in I walk and sit down at the reception desk. The woman behind the desk starts processing my forms and such. After about five minutes the woman behind the desk tells me she has to go and make a photocopy of my passport and check somethings. Just as she leaves to do this I hear two men walk in. They are both dressed like your average car thief; skinhead, tattoos you wouldn't be showing your grandkids, socks tucked into tracksuit bottoms, dress shoes, and a shirt (Yes with tracksuit bottoms, you cant buy style you know....)Their hands were noticeably weighed down by cheap gold sovereign rings the size of the Milky Way. Ok, so I'm exaggerating, the aforementioned rings were not 1*10^5 light years in diameter, but they were large. (The socks tucked into tracksuit bottom serves a cunning purpose. When one of these delightful people decides to relive a shop of an item which takes their fancy, they put it into their trouser leg and let it slide down. Their sock defeats gravity (?) and keeps the item they just thefted from falling onto the floor at an inappropriate time.) Don't get me wrong, I am not greatly judgemental but when you grow up in Sunderland, or any other big city you learn to be wary of such characters. I think its called common sense.
Anyway I digress. I hear one of these men literally shout "Paul man wha ya gannan i needs ya to gis a hand wif me form like owww!" (Paul, would you please wait with me until I get these forms completed) To which his friend replies "Eye, giz a minute Stevie, ya madun" (Yes, be patient Stephen, you crazy chap you). Stephen sits next to me. Now, I am not a nosy person, but one tends to listen in on a conversation five feet away from you when there is nothing better to do:
Job Centre Woman (JCW): "Hello"
Stephen : "G'up"(Good day to you)
JCW : "I will start processing this now, ok?"
Stephen : " "
JCW : "Right, who do you live with please?"
Stephen : "Me Mar and Dar" (Mummy and Daddy)
JCW : "Ok, Could I have your address please?"
Stephen : "xxxxx street"
JCW : "And which house in xxxxx street is it"?
Stephen : "Erm.......(he pauses for about thirty seconds) its QWERTY1"
JCW : "Ok, and could I please have your post code?"
Stephen : "Erm......(thinks for a while)I divvnt knaw, two seconds pet" (I am unsure, could you please excuse me for two seconds, you nicy lady?) At this point, he stands up from his chair and begins to shout across the entire job centre to his friend who is at one of the job banks, about twenty metres away. (A job bank is touch screen client station which I assume is connected to the national Job Centre intranet. They have a surprisingly clear, concise and effective Graphical User Interface, for a government computer system (not that I've seen any others, I am just asumming so)) "Pawwl, whats tha postycode for me mar and dars kip oww??" (Paul could you please inform one of ones postcode?)
JCW : "OK, and how long have you lived there?"
Stephen : "A've lived tha allll me leaf" (In my lifetime, I have not lived in another abode)
JCW : "Right, and what would you like to claim?"
At this point the woman handling my claim returned with a photocopy of my passport. (On which I bear more than a passing resemble to death).
Now, I don't think that Stephen had learning difficulties, by his mannerisms etc etc so please don't jump on me for been on my high horse. I also have quite a broad 'mackem' accent, which usually doesn't make much of an appearance until I get into a drunkenenened(hic!) argument.
Two things really amazed me about this little incident:
1) He had lived at home, with his "mar and dar" for twenty odd years, did not know his postcode, and had to think for a relatively long amount of time to recall his house number. I find it frankly incomprehensible how he could get through life, socks tucked in tracksuit bottoms aside, not knowing this little snippet of bloody important information about himself.
2) That nothing in his brain registered embarrassment in shouting across a crowded government building telling everyone he was too fucking dense to know his own postcode.
Of course, I am too much of a coward to have told him my views to his face. Those cheap sovereign rings were huge. Fuck that.