In a class of its own

There's nothing like the long, year-end break from school but, unfortunately, there's also nothing like going back in January.

Walking into a classroom full of scowling, sullen faces did nothing to elevate my already grumpy mood. The first week of school after Christmas is bad enough as it is, but if no one bothers to ask how your holidays went, you don't even get the opportunity to steam off and vent about exactly how useless your presents were. It's hard not to notice how the festive season saps every ounce of merriment from people, leaving them looking forward to a dull January which promises little more than the sinking realisation that the new year won't be all that it was cracked up to be after all.

Chaos reigns supreme and rumours fly like faded posters advertising now long-past seasonal concerts fluttering in the wind. Apparently, half our teachers could be found up to all manner of mischief on New Year's Day, someone saw a reindeer emerging sooty black from the fireplace (this caused much excitement among the first formers until they discovered that the someone didn't have a chimney, or a fireplace, in their house), and Mr Jennings, the caretaker, stole a live turkey that lays him an egg every morning. Or so someone says.

These examples are slightly more creative than the unfounded gossip that I was used to in my old school (after all, everyone there knew that the Latin teacher was an assassin). Although such stories briefly break the monotony of being subjected to endless lectures about tucking your shirt in, there's no getting away from the fact that the teachers are now back on the job, geared up to torture and more foul tempered than ever before.

Putting your trusty bag-packing skills to use once again after a lengthy break is never easy, so I expected teachers to be a little more understanding when I assumed it was Sunday instead of Monday and bought all the wrong books. The biology teacher admitted that anyone could make that mistake, but still failed to fathom how "anyone, even you, could sit for an hour parked outside my room waiting for me when every other person in your class is in the field." It's an unkind world.

Detention halls are often full, lessons are harder than ever and everybody malignantly eyes each other with the conviction that they were the only ones to receive obviously recycled presents. Sleeping patterns altered to an irreparable extent, it is now infinitely easier for me to doze off in class. But looking at the bright side, I no longer wake up at every little disturbance. There are no puffy eyes since school began, which makes me almost appreciate some things teachers do for us.