No, it wasn't a horror film, I don't do those. I was watching eight sixth-form lads at a provincial Yorkshire grammar school sitting their Oxford Entrance exam, in The History Boys. It's set in 1983, and these chaps are taking the exam after their A levels, doing what was known as seventh term entry. I did fourth term entry, ie in the first term of my upper sixth year, in 1982, at a provincial grammar school on the south coast of England. So that would put me and these fictional candidates in the same year group - only my lot did the special lessons and exam preparation on Wednesday aftenoons instead of sport through the lower sixth, rather than in one intense term.
It's a film written by Alan Bennett, so I expected spot-on observation, elegant yet accessible writing and insight into the human condition that teeters on that fine line between cruelty and compassion. The cast looked excellent, known and unknown, so I was expecting vivid characters brought fully to life, even in the smallest roles. Yes, I was well satisfied on all counts there.
What I really, really didn't expect was to be taken back so astonishingly vividly to all the awful apprehension and unexpected exhilarations of the whole roller-coaster process. It was twenty five years ago. No, just at the moment, it feels like it was yesterday.