Thank God it's the Holidays

18th August 1995 at 01:00
MONDAY: The near-mythical date of the exam results approaches. My friends have scattered with family holidays and holiday jobs. In a rare moment when we're all together we go to a club, perhaps for the last time before everything is complicated by comparison and assessment.

This becomes a night of melodrama with plentiful opportunity to let dormant emotions fly. I twist my knee and limp off the floor protesting that I am fine really. This is plainly not so and is especially worrying since I plan to fly to the Canaries with friends in a few days.

Wracked with pain, back to a friend's house in the early hours whereupon a new trauma develops - a major row between her and her dad over the boyfriend. But soon she is cheerful whereas I'm spending this supposedly carefree summer an invalid.

Still I'm glad they're sorting out their differences. Her father is also my guitar teacher and as I am, no doubt, also in the doghouse for aiding and abetting, my future as a guitar supremo hangs in the balance.

TUESDAY: Since the knee incident, I've been sent to the physiotherapist at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club while my brothers go green with envy. If I've damaged my ligaments it's a serious operation only to be carried out if I'm going to pursue an active, knee-needing career. Guitar playing is already down the chute and now other possibilities vanish.

WEDNESDAY: An organisational meeting for the holiday. My friends will not allow me to catch a train to the airport, being sure, they say, that I will miss it and place the whole holiday in jeopardy. That's assuming I'll be able to go at all. A doctor's letter arrives saying it would be "unwise to travel". Frantic arranging of more appointments.

THURSDAY: My room still bears the marks of the past. I realise my eyes are resting on the vital moments of "Germany, 1919-1939", still firmly attached to my shelves. I tear them off.

I can go on holiday if I vow only to lie on the beach all day. I think I can manage that.

FRIDAY: I survey my surroundings, now returning to their natural state - unidentifiable-thing swamp. During the exams I was a tidiness demon. Mum hoped my obsession with cleanliness would be exercised on the rest of the house, but I was quite content to sit in the kitchen surrounded by General Chaos.

Further changes are evident. Unreasonably, I am now more resentful of the Danish trumpeters lodging next door than during peak revision time. Then, I sat enthralled - an entirely valid excuse. Mum was horrified and, having been complained about, they hustled away to a back room. Now they interrupt my convalescence with blasting concertos.

The prospect of exam results gives me a catalogue of worries. If I can open the envelope at all it will be completely beyond me to tell anyone what the message is.

My parents, instructed to give an expressionless, positive response and above all not - horror of horrors - to smile, will have to prise the letter from my hand. Still, whatever else is the legacy of my exams, I have some things to show for them - a messed-up knee and a very clean floor.

Catriona Soutar is a pupil at Brighton and Hove High School where she plans to take A-levels from September

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