Thank God It's Friday

5th January 1996 at 00:00
Monday: Another year over, a new one just begun. And I'm still young enough to believe in Father Christmas even though my parents said that when Santa has to wait up for the child to go to bed, the time for stockings has passed.

Waking up on New Year's Day I suffer a brief, horrible moment of confusion, thinking I'm taking my A-levels this summer. In fact I've got months and months to go and I should make the most of this enticingly exam-free year. Last year my resolutions did include revising for GCSEs (at about number 530). Number One meanwhile, was "Marry Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of Pulp". I'm not quite there yet, but I obviously had my priorities clear then.

Tuesday: My exams left me with extensive time-tabling skills which I used to help Mum with the Christmas workload, dealing out tasks to relatives. I got quite into it, even marking the combinations of people and jobs with symbols - flowers for harmonious teams (Granny and me on the cutlery) and bombs for potentially explosive situations ( vegetarian cousins serving the turkey).

The schedule worked really well, especially as it got me out of my rash offer , foolishly made around October, to cook the entire dinner using a healthy alternative recipe out of a women's magazine.

Wednesday: A flaw in the Christmas schedule is rooted out - that missing tablecloth was in the linen basket after all, buried by my brother's dirty football socks. This year it's his turn to make GCSE choices. As I'm now a certified expert, I graciously offer unstinting sisterly advice. He glares savagely and declares that he will construct his entire course from the subjects I didn't do.

Thursday: New term looms. My heart sinks, recalling the history essay I was so glad to postpone before the holidays. I make another resolution never again to leave work until the last minute as, deep into the night, I "assess the contribution of Hans Holbein to English art".

Friday: Back to school and New Year re-organisation is in the air. Our teachers have arranged for a visiting speaker who is an expert on time management. No one will tell us anything else about him, but we are repeatedly assured of his brilliance.

We assemble in the hall and minutes tick by with no sign of the excellent man. I suspect that the exercise is already in progress and that when the hour is up we will be told, "there, that was a whole hour you wasted, think what you could have been doing".

Perhaps we have all been left together for a bonding game or such like. A teacher gives a strained smile and hurries off to the telephone.

He soon returns and delivers a message - the excellent and most praiseworthy man has made a small mistake. He had his visit scheduled for this afternoon. The talk is postponed.

We all feel greatly comforted, probably more than if the man had showed up. I reflect that not even the most organised of us can pin down time with resolutions. And, after all, I still have last year's unfinished business to deal with. Jarvis had better look out.

Cathy Soutar is in the sixth form at Brighton and Hove High School for Girls

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