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At the beginning of October 1980 Renate Needham felt very proud of having been admitted at the Polytechnic near her home to read a degree course in German. Ever since the end of the war she had yearned for a degree, but domestic obligations had made studying for such a goal quite impracticable, not to say impossible. Now, however, retirement afforded her the time, her son no longer depended on her and her three small pensions made it just possible to meet her reduced commitments for four years without having to supplement her income. Resources would be stretched to the limit, she would have to forego all luxuries, there would be no question of extending the course; if she failed to make the grade in any one year, or in any one subject she realized the whole enterprise would have to be abandoned. She was very conscious that she did not really possess the required academic qualifications for admission. However, she did a test and was granted an interview at which her exceptional command of the German language, her familiarity with everyday life in Germany, her skillful use of words at the right time, to the right people just tipped the scales in her favour. She was admitted.

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