Millions of teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland got their GCSE results today. The news made me feel nostalgic, as i got my O level results 30 years ago this month (O levels were replaced by GCSEs in Britain in 1988).
Waiting for exam results is always nerve racking. But my ordeal in August 1980 was even worse. I was convinced that I had failed maths. And in a further twist of the emotional knife, we were on holiday in California when the results came out. We flew back from Los Angeles to Gatwick a few days later on Freddie Laker's Skytrain - the original British low cost airline. Three decades later, I can still recall the tension as Dad drove us down the M4 from my sister's in Wootton Bassett, where we'd stayed the night on the way home from Gatwick. I rushed through the front door and ripped open the envelope. The first thing I saw was the phrase, "This is not a certificate". In my panic, I thought it meant I'd failed the lot! But I had done as well as I'd dared hope - and against the odds had passed maths.
Two years later, I made sure we were home when my A level results came out. It was far less of an ordeal!
Photo: here I am at Gatwick, about to fly to America for the first time. The DC-10 carries Laker Airways' Skytrain logo.