Thank God it's Friday

22nd November 1996 at 00:00
Monday: 8.15 am and I'm struggling out of bed into last week's displaced school livery. The alarm clock didn't go off. It's been dodgy since one of my brother's dubious mechanical mates decided to "modify" it. So it's Phil's fault if I'm late again.

8.35 am. My progress isn't helped by the need to navigate Phil's slumbering form in front of the television. Considering his tenuous connection with work at the building site down the road - two warnings in just under a fortnight - I wonder how he can spend every night drinking, smoking and genuflecting to the Idiot's Lantern. I leave the appalling scene and head for the school bus.

Tuesday: 11.30am. After a hazy morning of maths-and-physics I espy Sharon Dubritt, the modern embodiment of female pulchritude, wedged between two banks of lockers. Skipping the customary banter, she demands: "Is Phil OK? I heard he had a bit of a run-in with the Piston brothers last night."

I wasn't aware of this incident. I can't help wondering why she is so concerned. Is it because Phil is a sensitive introvert like me or because he is an aggressive, heavy-drinking party animal? For some reason, while girls like to preach the merits of "a good sense of humour" and "a fun-loving nature", they fall for the "real men", that is blokes like Phil with a car and world-spanning biceps.

Wednesday: 3am. I'm woken by jungle vibrations dislodging plaster from my bedroom ceiling. Phil is on one of his "entertainment" binges. This means that 32 Coleridge Street will become the block's loudspeaker until he and his friends return to their coffins. Girding my loins and descending to a lower level of hell to save my eardrums, I bump into Sharon.

"Oh, hi Benjy," she says, "Phil invited me. Great place, eh? Never seen wallpaper like this. Not too loud, are we?" She turns and heads off to join my brother in Babylon. Girls? I rest my case, if not my body.

Thursday: 10.30am. Due to a zeugmatic lack of sleep and alarm clock I am late to school yet again. Decide to slip out during the morning study period to buy a new clock downtown. What kind of excuse like "need replacement Westclox" is going to justify an exeat?

11am. Caught by Dr Langsdale (teaches economics, red tie and braces to match) entering Woolworth's and am conveyed to the head's office. He makes unhelpful remarks about my increasingly bad class reports and implies that I may be "treading in your older brother's footsteps, if you're not careful". Ominous indeed - especially knowing what Phil is likely to tread in.

Friday: 6am. Woken by family uproar. Phil has been fired from the building site after the health and safety inspector discovered a marijuana plant growing in his perforated lunchbox. The news is really bad because it means he'll be in the house 24 hours a day, and it'll take more than a few back issues of Razzle to amuse him. Just as I'm having to get serious about exams - oh joy!

6pm. Return home laden with coursework, expecting to be confronted by a deluge of sorry fag ends and desolate beer cans. Instead, I am met by a clean doorstep, Hoovered living room and polished Rayburn. As I ponder the identity of the perpetrator, Sharon walks in wearing a pinny and a Wonderbra. "Get used to it, Benjy," she says before I can react. "This is what things are gonna be like once Phil and me get married."

Ben Pendleton is studying English, history and geography A-levels at Mildenhall Upper School, Suffolk.

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