However, before long, I found myself bending the rules of the ties that bound me as a student on a Department of Education studentship. There were some which couldn’t be bent – such as teaching and not getting pregnant for three years after graduation-- but this one Bert and I decided was in our control.
Successfully completing Law of Contracts was a mandatory part of our teaching studentship contract, part of the Accounting sub-major we had to complete. At 18, laws relating to contracts and precedents such as ‘Donoghue and Stevenson’ or ‘the snail in the bottle’ case hadn’t entered into my, or Bert’s frame of reference. We really needed an inspirational teacher to engage us, something the lecturer allocated to teach our group, unfortunately, was not. I remember a moustached, very British contract lawyer at times being heckled by the students, something I found difficult to cope with.
Bert and I decided, given the early start to the course, its boring delivery (can't you just hear us complaining!), and our undoubted skills in taking notes and rote learning them when we had to, that we would attend on alternate weeks and share notes. We proceeded with our plan.
Some months later, I sat up late trying to make sense of our notes ready for the exam at 9 am the next morning. I was finding it difficult to rote learn them. I used grids, mind maps, memory joggers and more – but I’d left it too late. I stayed up until 2.30 am trying to get ready for the exam – something I could do at the time – but the cause was proving impossible.
The problem escalated when I arrived at Monash next morning and checked for the room for the exam. I found I’d misread the exam timetable – the exam was actually to be held in the afternoon. I was so tired. How would I last the distance? I sat in the Caf reading through our notes again and again, increasingly dazed by tiredness. Once in the exam, I found myself becoming befuddled when trying to interpret the questions. I ‘did my best under the circumstances’.
The results board a month or so later revealed that ‘my best under the circumstances’ clearly wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t even good enough for a compensatory pass with a January exam.
It wasn’t good enough for Bert, either. We found ourselves together again in the Law of Contracts theatre the next year, older and wiser. We didn’t share our notes this time!