For once in your life, you’re organised. You’ve washed enough socks and boxer shorts to get you through Christmas in a state of acceptable hygiene and your Polish cleaning lady, eager to outdo her Ukrainian counterpart (you would never have believed just how comfortable the free market can make your life), has ironed every last crease out of your shirts, even the ones you thought you’d dumped in the laundry basket. You’ve sent off the last of the pre-Christmas translations to the publishers in time to forestall the typesetters’ nervous breakdown. And, for the first time ever, with three days still to go to Yuletide you’ve resolved your Christmas shopping problems: this year, instead of fuelling the inhuman steamroller of consumerism, you will treat everyone on your present list to a generous helping of your quality time: how much healthier for your pre-school nephews and nieces to receive ten uninterrupted minutes of banter and anecdotes than the latest… well, whatever – it ain’t ethical to be constantly updating on the stuff you can buy in the shops.
Feeling rather pleased with yourself, you are settling down with your cappuccino in front of the computer to savour the reports on Everton’s UEFA Cup victory away to AZ Alkmaar, and promising yourself a few minutes gloat-surfing on the Liverpool Supporters Messageboards in the wake of their latest debacle, when Lennie calls you from the Faculty. It swiftly emerges that for the past forty-five minutes thirty Pre-Intermediate students (Gruppo K, Aula VII) have been awaiting you and their written English exam. Fuck it! You really are going to have to start writing things down.
Fifteen minutes later you are springing up the last steps to the first floor of the Ateneo, wondering whether your students will buy the excuse that your imminent departure for Liverpoool had caused your body clock to flick back automatically to Greenwich meantime. By the time you reach the classroom, though, you have decided to opt for truth and humility. And in truth you feel humble, because there's not a word or a glance of recrimination from a single one of them, and before the words "Sorry, sorry, sorry!" are even out of your mouth, the smiles and the repartee are kicking in, and, not for the first time, you remember why you love your job, and suddenly it doesn't matter that you're not going to have time to indulge your Liverpool schadenfreude. You will find a moment to squeeze in the Everton reports, though.