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Failure of lads gladdens the heart

I MUST say I'm always sorry to see the end of August. It shouldn't be my favourite month. After all August 1 is the day when Woolworths, put a dampener on everyone's holiday fun, with their dratted "Back to School" posters. It's also the month when football returns to TV (after something like a two-week break) and editors who should be paying me decamp to Edinburgh.

Moreover all my friends have disappeared off to windsurf in Cornwall or cycle round the Algarve while I, alone in Britain it seems, try to work - something which is never easy given that two of my offspring also have birthdays in August. This month always costs me a fortune in presents and parties.

It also takes years off my life because both Ginny and Sarah insist on trips to "Scare-U-Rigid" our local roller-coaster park where I shell out pound;5 a time to drop 150 metres through the air in the dubious cause of proving that Dad is no wimp.

However I bear all this, and gladly too, because August is also the month of Britain's annual A-level angstfest. Every year as, once again, girls do better than bys, a little dent is made in this country's strutting, bone-headed "work is for wussies" lad culture.

As David Blunkett has pointed out laddism, which takes as its principal tenet the notion that achievement based on effort cannot be cool, has done a lot of harm to British youth.

I speak as one who tried at school. There were boys in my day who claimed that only creeps handed their homework in on time but the rest of us knew that those deriding such conscientiousness were in fact the thickos who couldn't do well even if they wanted to.

Now however, thanks to TV and the movies, a pernicious idea has taken root that a truly cool guy spends his schooldays listening to music, watching footie, driving stolen cars, taking soft drugs, goosing authority figures and making out with the best girls.

However, what every August tells us is that while Laddo is hanging cool the best girls are actually indoors studying and getting better jobs than he ever will. Call me an unreconstructed creep if you will, but I enjoy August's little burst of schadenfreude.

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