Exam hall stress, exam hall strain,

Invigilating for three hours is an occupational pain.

Students rustle their papers, give their pens a quick chew,

Return to the questions inwardly cursing at you,

They never showed up to the lectures you gave,

Now here they sit panicking, hoping for a brain wave …


One student already left thirty-five minutes in,

She was trying not to cry, gave you a strangled rictus grin.

You know she’s failed. She knows it too.

Now another student left, said they needed the loo.

You don’t think the questions are really that hard –

It’s Criminology for fuck’s sake, not building the Shard.


You gaze out the window at a world flushed acid green,

The vibrancy of Spring is sometimes almost obscene.

Daydreaming (not napping) speeds up the time,

You compose some superior doggerel that repetitively rhymes,

You nibble chocolate eggs, text your family and friends,

The clock ticks slowly onwards … this confinement will soon end…


5pm – it’s over! The students flock to the door,

Some grin and nod at you, it’s clear they do not abhor

the questions you set them or the answers they wrote,

(You hope for their sake there are no Lombroso quotes).

You collect all the scripts, take a pile home with you.

Relax in the sunshine. Savour a glass of Picpoul.

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