The killing of Sister Smith

5th January 1996 at 00:00
The school secretary on being harassed by computer, fax machine, bleeper, kettle and radio, sighed.

Her back was sore as were her wrists, fingers and eyes. The names of candidates scrawled on a piece of paper swam before her as mercilessly they played tig. The telephone rang. She slapped the receiver to her ear and snapped, "Lowe High, can I help you?" She typed and listened to the confused silence. Her eyes darted between screen and paper as they systematically swept down the column. Adam Smith. . .Caroline Smith. . . Emily "Hello" Smith . . . "I'm Jane Hearne's mother." Frank Smith . . . "My daughter," . . . Joan S Ann Smith . . . "is feeling unwell this morning." Morris C A R Smith . . . "Just rang to let you know. Bye."

Feeling slightly perplexed, the name "Jane" ringing in her ears, as was the phone, the secretary quickly rechecked and changing "Joan" to "Jane", hurriedly answered the phone: Mr Littlegood, the Rector wanted to see her. Then picking up some letters, noted Joan's name staring from the sheet, added it, pressed "save", pushed herself back from the desk, whirled round 180 degrees and dashed to the Rectors office, checking on the time. 12:05. Jane Smith had just been created.

Jane Smith's name was sent along with others to the Scottish Vocational Education Council, Hanover House, 24 Douglas Street, Glasgow G2 7NQ where she was registered by computer and given her candidate registration number, 930845531, and henceforth, existed.

In March 1994, Lowe High School was charged pound;40.00 and Jane Smith was awarded Scotvec Module Communications 2.

The Rector sat studying the examination results. A few As in English, none in maths or physics - no surprise there! Five passes in French - slipping. History, mod studs not doing too badly. Chem and biol - okay. The relative ratings are bound to be negative - yet again!

He then turned to Scotvec to see who had been awarded their modules. To his extreme delight and surprise, he discovered that everyone had been awarded their modules. "Steve Coleman, good, Joanne - not surprising, Calvin? Communications 1? He's practically illiterate! Kevin, good. Adam, yep, Stacy uh-huh, she's okay, he's okay, good one, Jane Smith? 4th Year? Communications 2?" He gulped some coffee and buzzed for his secretary.

"Amstrada, do we have a Jane Smith in school? I don't recall anyone by that name."

"What year?" "Fourth apparently. She was just awarded Communications 2 by Scotvec."

"Then try Mr Enlighten, English, 325," his secretary said.

The Rector gave a sly chuckle and dialled for Mr Enlighten. "Hi, Rector speaking. I wonder if you could tell me, have we a Jane Smith? Congrats on the English results. . ."

"Right. Well, obviously I cannot give a straight answer to that without closely looking at and analysing all the relevant information. In fact . . ."

"Cut the crap. Yes or no, did a Jane Smith do Commune 2 last year?" "That would not really be for me to say, I'm not sure if 'do' is the correct word, I'll. . ."

"Mr Enlighten, for Christ's sake! Jane Smith? Yes or sodding no?" "I myself did not present any pupil by that name, but perhaps if you were to. . . " "That man," yelled the Rector smashing down the phone. Amstrada entered and informed the Rector that Jane Smith was not on the school role.

"Right then. Take her name off that computer."

In March 1995, Lowe High School was charged pound;200.00 and candidate number 930845531 was awarded Communications 3 and 4, Creative Writing, Introduction to Literature and Literature 1 by Hanover House.

And so, back went Mr Littlegood to the English department and was faced again with Mr Enlighten.

"Now, I know that there is no Jane Smith, you know that there is no Jane Smith. So why is she being presented?" yelled the Rector.

"As already stated, I am mystified. We, as a department, haven't been moderated by an invigilator for several years. But I'm sure the external invigilator would never let it pass. Running Scotvec is not like walking down a road you know. It involves a great deal of effort and intelligence and integrity what with the module descriptions, fleshed out modules, the performance related criteria, learning outcomes, instruments of assessment, internal assessment and finally external verification. A thing like this could never happen. There must be some explanation surely. . ."

The depute watched as silently as Mr Littlegood "let off steam". "I could kill that creep! You can't get a sensible word out of him. I'm telling you Jack, that man in English needs a sodding stress management course!" Jack nodded in agreement.

"Hello, Hanover House, how may I help you?" "Somehow or other a Jane Smith is being presented for modules which she is then awarded and which we have to pay for. Explain."

"Your question is being loaded, please wait . . . Jane Smith, 930845531, Comm 2 1994, Comm 3 and 4 1995 . . ."

"Yes, yes, I know all that. All two hundred and forty pounds. She doesn't exist."

"Sir, I'm sorry. We have three conclusive pieces of evidence. Jane Smith is a registered candidate, she has a candidate number and several Scotvec modules. This is all registered on computer."

The Rector tore wildly at his tie, throwing a Scotvec manual across the room. "I don't care how you do it, get rid of that girl!" he shouted to Amstrada.

"We cannot. She's on computer."

"Delete the computer!" "But, she has all those modules!" In March 1996, Lowe High School was charged pound;200.00 and 930845531 was awarded Cookery 1 and 2, Cake Design, Introduction to Short Crust Pastry and Basic Toast Making.

"I can't go on," groaned the Rector.

"Understandably," sympathised Jack, rubbing his hands in glee.

"Something will have to be done."

"But what? If you go on with this you'll kill yourself Rector."

"That's it, we'll have to get rid of her! Bump her off!" The next week the following announcement appeared in the obituary section of the local paper: Jane Smith, 930845531, avid collector of Scotvec modules died this week. She will be sorely missed.

now on a year out in South Africa, wrote this as an English project for the Certificate of Sixth Year Studies.

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