Then he picked up mine, with an affectionate smile.
I have no memory of the topic, or what the thing he liked so much about it was.
The most dazzling compliment I ever received from a school-teacher was delivered one day in English class, circa 1978, by the late Mr O’Brien.
I realise that when they hear it now, some cruel readers may laugh.
I’m not sure how long after this it first occurred to me that (whisper it) an A might have been considered possible too. Yes, even in those days before grade inflation, we must have heard of people getting As in English.
Those were the Himalayas, in any case; we were aiming for the Alps.
But all I can say is that it did not then have the slight satirical quality it has acquired in years since.
On the contrary, Mr O’Brien was a genuine fan of my work.
But having read the extract and allowed my classmates time to savour it – more than they needed, I’m sure – he proceeded to make a general point about the Leaving Cert exam then looming.
First he surveyed the whole room and declared that everyone, with sufficient work, could get honours.