Sunday, bloody Sunday

Learning vocab and finding PE kit may have been replaced with work and ironing, but Sunday evenings are still awful. Sandra Deeble finds ways to cope

A FEW BARS of The Onedin Line theme tune was all it took to prompt my mother: "Have you done all your homework for tomorrow?" Today, maths homework is thankfully a curse of the past, yet come 5pm, a blanket of Sunday evening-ness falls and the prospect of Antiques Roadshow makes one look back at the weekend and wonder: where did it go?

Recriminations ("We should have got more fresh air"), guilt ("I really meant to do the garden") and apprehension ("Will my boss have read that proposal?") flow thick and fast. It should be a time for reflection, a chance to admire those Habitat purchases, yet many of us choose to seek refuge in displacement activities in the vain hope of putting off the inevitable. PE kits and homework may have been superseded by a calling for pristine shirts and a Post it note reminding you to take something out of the freezer for Monday, but Sunday evening melancholia goes a long way back.

There's nothing like this time of the week to remind you of your true feelings about your workplace. Gripes with colleagues fester. That item you gleefully shoved to the bottom of your in-tray will have magically worked its way to the top of the pile come Monday morning, ready to taunt you. If you are really going to change your attitude and be a new, assertive, go-getter, tomorrow is the day to start.

Daunted? It's nothing that a quick blast of Ballykissangel won't fix. Sunday evening viewing has a "special resonance" according to a BBC spokesman. Non-taxing, huddle-conducive visual fodder is the order of the day with the inevitable costume drama always fitting the bill. Early evening escapism at the local multi-screen proves another popular pastime. According to the marketing people at UCI, couples tend to emerge for a "romantic comedy", usually for the 7pm-ish performance, and "they all seem in a pretty good mood and look relaxed". Yet others face reality head-on. Calls to First Direct reach an all-time peak between 6pm and 8pm. "People suddenly wake up to the fact that they have bills to pay and need to sort themselves out," said a spokesperson.

How we deal with Sunday Evening Syndrome varies but there seem to be three main camps. The "Batten Down the Hatch-ers": These people always had a clean Aertex shirt ready for gym the next day, had learned their vocab for the test and were able to approach the new week with confidence. As adults, they will not venture out after 5 o'clock, make a quick call to ensure their credit card payment has been made (in full), reach for the can of Robin starch and settle down calmly to watch Playing the Field. The "Let's Be Sensibles": These people know when to call it a day. They'll be in an ambrosial mood, having enjoyed their time off, but know that they shouldn't be greedy. After all, there's always next weekend! Happy after a feelgood film and replete with Baileys ice-cream, they still get that early night. The "Sod It, It's Still The Weekend, After Alls": These people have a devilish urge to extend the weekend for as long as possible. They used to spend Sunday evenings fabricating elaborate fibs about how the cat vomited on their essay and their mum put their plimsolls in the oven by mistake. Not content with a quiet drink at their local, they feel compelled to push back the boundaries and seek revelry. Monday morning sees them groaning, trashed, fumbling for change for their Tube fare, starting the week with a vengeful hangover. All three approaches are admirable. Alleviate the symptoms in any way you can! And remember, it could be worse: for the jobless, every day is a Sunday.

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