Essay written by me, not actually in school, but which I ought to have. It is dedicated to all teachers who waste their pupils' time with trite, pointless assignments such as this just to keep the class occupied in between belts.

When I grow up I would like to be public executioner, as it is something that runs in the family, and also that I feel I could flourish at in my working life. It is also not a job that one normally expects people one meets to have!

I think I would make a good public executioner, actually. I am fast enough at mental arithmetic to calculate, based on height, weight, and neck radius, the length of rope to put round the neck of someone so that exactly 1,470lbs of force are applied between the second and third vertebrae. This is an important aspect of the job, as if too little force is applied to the executee's neck they'll strangle to death, and if too much force is applied they'll have their head yanked off by the force of the drop. Neither of these are considered good practice in the world of execution. They tend to make good horror stories for anti-capital punishment types everywhere. There is certainly more art in this time-honoured method of execution than in the barbarous methods used by our American cousins. Not for us the eyeball-burning, unpleasant-smelling horror of the electric chair, or the gasping, writhing, defecating mass that a man is reduced to by the gas chamber!

Another skill I have which could make me a good public executioner is a complete lack of empathy in any way, shape, or form. I am totally aware that the people I will be pulling the lever on are people, with wives, families, and suchlike, and may be even wrongly convicted or convicted just to send a message to others. However, at the same time I am willing enough to trust in the vagaries of British justice that they have, in fact, all committed murder or suchlike in their time and are getting their just desserts. And yes, it is true that hanged men die with a gigantic erection - though only if by the neck until dead as opposed to with the long drop. I also have a burning desire to see what exactly a rope burn looks like up close.

But the thing that attracts me most to the trade of hangman is the professionalism it has about it. When it is decided that a prisoner should be executed at precisely 10 am, he is executed at as precisely 10 am as possible. From his bunk in the capital cell, across the corridor, to being hooded, leg-strapped, hand-strapped, noosed, put on the spot and being dropped can take under ten seconds if done properly. When you and your team look down the hatch and see the dead man there, not swinging, not gasping, not writhing, still as a stone, you know that he was executed in as humane a way as you possible can find. And that is something that, as a professional, I feel I could be proud of.

The route to the job of public executioner is not, I admit, easy. However, I do have a contact. My great uncle was none other than Albert Pierrepoint, and he has, in fact, offered me some work experience this summer. I have accepted it. In closing, I trust that Sir is now sufficiently aware of my preferred path in life and future plans that he will not need to set me, next term, an essay about what I did on my holidays!

I think, once again, it's best I was never set that essay when I was at school.

Incidentally, at the end of March 2009 I did briefly go out with a girl who claimed, off-handedly, to be descended vaguely from Albert Pierrepoint. Though that didn't last; she threw me over for her ex that she described as "boring."

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