As the exam season gets under way, pity the invigilator, endlessly dreaming up ways to relieve the boredom. But now the dreaded three-hour stints could be transformed into poetic interludes.
Invigilators could save their sanity by trying their hand at writing verse for a poetry competition, called Under Exam Conditions, launched this week.
The idea was conceived at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds University, where director of learning Tim Leadbeater tried it with his staff last year. It was so successful he gained sponsorship from booksellers Blackwell's and the Royal Literary Fund to go nationwide.
Invigilators welcomed the competition. "The most exciting thing is when a student puts their hand up for more paper," said Stephen Adams. "And if someone needs to leave the room to go to the bathroom there's practically a scrum."
Emma Roberts confessed to counting the number of baseball caps and beanies when she was not doing pelvic floor exercises. Then, said John Earley, there was the thrill of an illegal mobile phone going off. Janice Graham said her invigilating career highlight was supervising an exam in a maternity hospital.
The three best poems will win book vouchers of £35, £25 and £15. The poem, in limerick form, must have been inspired while invigilating on the theme of something in the room or outside the window.