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Young Ones - Neil - Exams - Lucky Gonk

Extra polos, my lucky gonk, and my pencil sharpener …

Exams. Probably enough said already and it’s been a while since my first lot (anyone of a certain age may recognise the quote in the Title, from around the time of my first public exams) - after each set of exams I’ve always thought enough’s enough, but there always seem to be some more that sneak up on you when you least expect it.

First I did the now very old fashioned ‘O’ Levels (younger readers may care to research these online but I really wouldn’t bother), then ‘A’ levels, then onto a Polytechnic in Hertfordshire to read Business Studies and Marketing (Polytechnic? – again for younger readers, these became Universities in 1992 – and the long established ‘real’ Universities still to this day refer to the ex-Polys at ‘Post 1992 Institutions’ as a mean to distance themselves).

I worked at a 'Post 92 Institution' for 7 years where the 3 letters CPD were always being discussed (Continuing Professional Development), so again I succumbed and had my first encounter with the demon that is Part Time Study – 3 years part time, 8 more exams and a dissertation later I’d added 3 more letters (MSc) after my name – wondering if ever I’d manage to get the letters after my name longer than my actual name.

Working at a major B2B supplier I was again given the chance for more letters. Subconsciously I think I was becoming a bit of an addict (letters, not part time study), and so with some more study, exams and presentations got a few more (DipIDM) – still not quite enough?

Now working in the wine trade CPD came knocking on my door again, this time in the guise of the WSET exams (http://www.wsetglobal.com) – so being still relatively new to the wine game last month found myself in a hall in Bristol taking the WSET Intermediate Exam. My 3 long-standing colleagues were alongside – but taking the Advanced Exams. Working at Yapp HQ it’s astonishing how much information you pick up along the way – this is definately a lifestyle company where everyone has an interest, dare I say passion, in the wines that we ship in and sell (and drink). Staff tastings are a habitual and pleasurable part of what we do (it’s not every company where you check your diary for the day and see '10.00 Marketing Meeting, 2.00pm Aromatics Tasting').

In the exam it’s self some answers were learnt from study – but others just came there and then. The MD had proffered the advice ‘Stay with your first answer, have faith, don’t change it’, and when I read Q.42 “What is the classic tasting note for an Alsace Gewürztraminer” I could hear the voice of the Yapp Shop Manager saying ‘Lychee’ (the divine intervention of the Welsh... this really was from the subconscious) and thankfully the right answer as well – always a bonus when it works that way round!

My certificate arrived yesterday – I was more than chuffed to have passed with distinction (still not matching the Shop Manager's legendary 100% pass – no pressure there then!) but as a bonus I’d finally cracked the more letters after my name – albeit in a roundabout fashion:

Hamish  J Catanach (15 Letters)

BA(Hons) MSc DipIDM WSET (18 Letters)

WSET - Wine and Spirit Education Trust exam