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Becky says things about … the last days of term

Can you hear that, fair Listener? It is the ecstatic collective squeal of school children around the globe as we approach the summer holidays.

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And, if you listen carefully, you will hear the exhausted wails of several thousand teachers.

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Fact: there is nothing more exciting than the last days of term.

Amongst the hysteria and the chaos and the inevitable child that got over-excited and quietly soiled herself in assembly, one thing was certain as we approached that last golden week: teachers would stop doing their one job.

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Each lesson would become a lucky dip of unfathomable treats. What would await us on the other side of the door? A TV on wheels, stationed at the front of the class like a proud, tubby Emperor?

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Or a wordsearch? The end of term is the one time in a human being’s life when a wordsearch is legitinately and shamelessly thrilling. When presented as an alternative to distilling some water, or reciting the German for ‘When the weather is good, I play tennis*’, a wordsearch is your ticket to happiness.

*Wenn das Wetter gut its, spiele ich Tennis. (Aber, wenn das Wetter schlecht ist, spiele ich Tischtennis.)

Sometimes, however, the teachers couldn’t even bring themselves to provide us with any form of stimuli, and instead left us to our own devices.

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Oh, the thrill of getting away with slight alterations to your uniform! The teachers’ stringent term-time sartorial rules would gradually relax in the run-up to the holidays – they would half-heartedly frown at your trainers, or your whimsical approach to doing up your tie – until eventually they literally didn’t give a shit.

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There were vague last-ditch attempts to send us on our way with some educational remnants in our brains, by making us sit through a final assembly on the importance of listening to our parents and doing our Tudor projects over the holidays, and remembering at all times that we were representatives of the school, but they may as well have been talking to a hedge.

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And the peak of a mountain of almost unbearable happiness? The half day.

As the clock inched to 1pm on that final day, the teacher would take a last register and tell us to get the hell out, and as we left the school gates we would wipe away a single tear.

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Oh, yes, I enjoyed years and years of tremendously exciting last days of term.

Until my very, very last day of term, in my third and final year of university.

I sat my last exam in the second week of a six week term. As I put down my pen on my Literature of World War One exam, I realised, with a strange mixture of elation and trepidation, that I had just completed my life in education. The years of coursework, seminars, lectures, revising, binge-eating Malteasers, were over. (Happily, it soon transpired that my life of binge-eating Malteasers had only just begun.) Naturally, I wanted to celebrate.

I rushed into the pub, expecting to find willing drink-gin-until-we-puke comrades, but was instead met with a silent citadel of revision.

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I went home, had a cup of tea and watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, so I think you’ll find I had the last laugh.

So, enjoy these last days of term, particularly if they are your very last, as from now on there are no last days of term: just a continuous drudgery of work with no foreseeable end.

Enjoy!

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Becky says things about … hangovers

I would first like to say, dear suspicious listener, that just because I am writing about hangovers doesn’t mean I have recently suffered from one.*

*It completely does. I have recently been killed by a hangover, and miraculously came back to life, a bit like Jesus.

Hangovers are God’s way of telling you you’re an idiot. Hangovers are a punishment for having fun. Hangovers are your body deciding that it’s going to take away a day of your life by preventing you from doing anything remotely productive and instead forcing you to spend the day in bed eating bowl after bowl of cereal and watching episode after episode of The Golden Girls on YouTube.

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Most certainly, Stickman, but it is far more enjoyable when one chooses to spend a day in such pleasant diversion, not when it is literally the only thing that one can do apart from lie on the floor in a pit of self-disgust and softly wail. And if you’ve eaten all my cereal I am going to be livid.

Like life itself or the quality of supermarket own-brand products, hangovers are unpredictable. You can never tell whether they are going to be a mere mild irritation, like a slightly sunburnt elbow, or a fatally catastrophic life-altering event that forces you to reassess your very existence.

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Sometimes, the sheer meekness and mildness of a hangover can be a stupendous victory that makes you feel like a superhero with a liver and stomach made of titanium (I think they call that particular superhero ‘Low-Density Corrosion-Resistant Transition Metal Major Organs Man’). Those nights when you start on the beer, then have a few cheeky wines, then some bright spark suggests Jagarmeister, then before you know it you’ve got your face in a bucket of Sambuca and someone is preparing a syringe with which they mean to inject absinthe into your eyeballs, and you wake up the next morning to nothing but a slight headache and an ambiguous stain on your lapel.

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These hangovers are worth celebrating. You are clearly bionic and incredible, and that deserves a pat on the back and a massive full English breakfast, a stroll in the park feeling fresh and breezy, and quite possibly a few cheeky beverages later on in the day to thank your body for being so utterly super and brilliant.

And when those nights of absinthe-injecting and tequila-inserting and Sambuca-snorting do catch up with you, and you wake up to cataclysmic devastation and horrible awfulness and a cat is on fire and people have died, you don’t mind so much, because you know you ruddy well deserve it.

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But sometimes your body doesn’t want to play. Sometimes your body thinks ‘Hey. You. Person that I keep alive. You’re going down, you hear me? You gowin daaaaooowwwwnn.’ (Yes, my body sometimes does a Samuel L. Jackson impersonation. It’s confusing, but fun.)

After a hard day at work you think to yourself ‘I’m going to imbibe a couple of well-earned alcohol beverages because I have been productive, efficient and generally smashing today, and what harm can a mere two glasses of wine do to my most excellent body?’ And you pop down the pub. You consume said two drinks, perhaps three, if you have one forced upon you or there’s a sudden and unpredicted thunderstorm outside and to leave the premises would be dangerous. Then you go home and you go to bed. It is a perfectly pleasant evening.

And then you wake up and you feel like this:

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Your second emotion is confusion. Your first emotion is an intense wish to die, but you quickly pass over that on the grounds of it being dramatic. You are confused. Why has this happened? Why do you hurt so? Who hates you? Did you really only have two drinks, or did you have thirty, get chucked out of the pub, mug an old lady, steal her pension, use it to buy Special Brew and White Lightening, find a bush in a park, drink £80’s worth of almost illegally-strong alcohol in said bush, gatecrash a student party and achieve a record for sucking the contents of a bottle of vodka up your bottom through a straw, steal ninety-five cans of cheap lager, drink them all whilst standing on your head and get a cheer for vomiting into a pint glass and then mixing it with Lambrini and drinking it, then fly to Dublin, wipe out an entire village of its Guinness, fly back, and get hit by a transit bus carrying holidaymakers to their plane to Malaga?

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These hangovers are confusing. They’re unfair. They are disproportionate to the amount of alcohol you consumed. The ratio of fun to pain is deeply unbalanced. They are nefarious. They are like a malicious Pain Lord wreaking havoc in your innocent body with his pointed stick and his penchant for inflicting misery. They are not to be trusted. They make you doubt yourself. They make you think you are destined to a life of tea, coffee and fizzy pop, ultimately leading to stained teeth and offensive wind. You begin to yearn for liver disease.

Hangovers make you slow. If your hungover motor ability was a tortoise, it would be jeered at by the other speedier tortoises.

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Hangovers confuse your stomach. One minute you are gorging on fried sausages and two loaves of bread, and the next you experience that phenomenon of Sudden and Categorical Certainty that You Will Vomit if You So Much as Move a Millimetre of Your Body.

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So, dear listener, let that be a warning to you. Next time you fancy a quick drink down the pub, think again. That quick drink may be your undoing. That quick drink may change your life. That quick drink may force you to watch forty-seven videos of squirrels falling off walls and babies laughing at paper on YouTube.

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