Thank God its Friday

24th January 1997 at 00:00
Monday: Return to London after a glorious Hogmanay in Scotland. The weather was fantastic in the Highlands overlooking Skye and we spent our time eating, drinking and gossiping, with the occasional bracing walk to clear the head.

Amazing what fresh air and a change of scene can do to relax you totally - until you arrive home to find your car has been taken away by bailiffs for non-payment of a parking ticket, the central heating has completely packed up and in a few short hours you've got to get up to take an unwilling child back to school.

Tuesday: Misery. I've been awake since 5am, freezing under two duvets, but can't face getting up in these sub-zero conditions. Eventually I drag myself out and persuade a six-year-old - who hasn't surfaced before 10am for a fortnight - that it would be brilliant fun to be back in her classroom, mainly because it's warm.

As the zip breaks on my trousers, I have to concede that festive over-indulging has taken it's toll. Today I will get back to a strict regime of healthy eating, no alcohol and work.

As a freelancer, it is too easy to be distracted, my New Year resolution is to be more focused. On the way back from my daughter's school I bump into a friend and invite her in for coffee. Hot drinks and three pieces of Christmas cake are the only way to keep up my body temperature.

Wednesday: Son goes back to school today. Funny how they turn into Harry Enfield's truculent teenager, Kevin, the minute they become 13: "It's so unfair! Everyone else is allowed to stay up latewatch 18 certificate moviesbuy loads of computer games."

At last the house is quiet, the central heating is fixed and I can settle down at my computer and get on with some work.

Of course, it might be better just to pop into the neighbours now to wish them a Happy New Year before I actually knuckle down.

By 3.30 I still haven't done a stroke. Too late to start now - the children will be back from school any minute. "Kevin" arrives disguised as a charming, well brought up youth: "Hi! How are you? I had a brilliant day - that really is a great school."

Thursday: Daughter has been up all night being sick, so she'll have to stay off school today. It will be difficult to concentrate on work whilst I'm ministering to the ailing, so I might just as well sit with her, watching television and reading. I'll just finish off the Christmas cake too - wouldn't want it to go to waste.

Son comes home with the hot news that one of his teachers got married on Christmas Day. "Whereabouts?" I ask. "Dunno. Somewhere ending in 'isia'. " "Abroad then?" I say. he looks puzzled. "No, I don't think so." I really must have a word with his geography teacher.

Friday: Both children are at school, the Christmas cake has gone, all the neighbours have been visited, now I can really get down to some work. Until I realise that my husband intends to do the same - at home.

It is incredibly distracting trying to eavesdrop on someone's telephone conversation with the bank when you are trying to write a piece on adult numeracy. By lunchtime, I've achieved nothing.

A friend calls: "Shall we meet for a quick lunch and a glass of wine to celebrate the New Year?" I'd better go and get last year's gossiping out of the way. Then, come Monday, I can start to focus in earnest.

Dorothy Stiven is a parent, writer and broadcaster who lives in London

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