Are you a Fifteenth Nighter?

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The Independent Online
TONIGHT is Fifteenth Night. What is Fifteenth Night? Well, it is the third night after Twelfth Night. And what's special about that? It gives us a chance to do all those things we should have done on Twelfth Night, like getting rid of the last traces of Christmas and getting cracking with the new year. If you are a Twelfth Night person, you won't need Fifteenth Night, but if you're a Fifteenth Night person, you're going to need all today (and most of the rest of 1993) to clear up before next Christmas.

In fact, if you are a Fifteenth Night sort of person, you probably threw up your hands in despair on Twelfth Night and thought you'd never have a chance to get things straight again. Well, you have. It's Fifteenth Night. It's tonight. And if you are a Fifteenth Nighter, it's time to yawn into action.

It's very important that you should know which kind of person you are, Twelfth Night, or Fifteenth Night, so you can run your life properly according to you own nature. If you still don't know which kind of person you are, it's never too late; here's a brief run-down to let you know who you are, and let you get in tune with yourself.

First, a few non-seasonal guidelines. A Twelfth Night person makes their bed in the morning after rising. A Fifteenth Night person doesn't think about bed-making until it's time to get into it again. A TN person arrives early for a train and occasionally catches the one before. An FN person thinks time spent waiting for a train is wasted and likes to arrive at the same time as the train. A TN person knows the body measurements of all his close relatives, whereas an FN person isn't even sure of his own.

How does this all apply to Christmas? Well, a TN person has by now already cooked up and consumed all the turkey left over from Christmas. An FN person is sniffing anxiously at leftovers in the fridge to (a) see if it has gone off yet, and (b) try to decide which is the turkey.

A TN person has already copied down names and addresses from Christmas cards into an address book. Even if an FN person has carefully torn all the cards in half to use as shopping lists, they have now begun to find addresses on halves of card, which are worthless because the name of the sender is on the other, missing half.

A TN person is now writing thank you letters, probably on a word processor. An FN person is sending late Christmas cards. A TN person is getting the date on cheques right. An FN person is still writing '1992', changing it and saying, 'It's still valid if I initial it, isn't it? Oh, I'll write another cheque, then. Oh, damn, it's my last one'.

A TN person throws things away ruthlessly. An FN person hangs on to everything sentimentally, with one glaring exception: receipts for gifts the recipients wish to exchange. A TN person has by now watched, and wiped, all the films recorded on video over Christmas. An FN person has a pile of about twenty dozen tapes, all unlabelled, one of which contains the vital programme they are almost sure they did remember to record.

An FN person spends hours looking for the box in which the Christmas tree lights should go. A TN person has already taken the lights to the shop to be mended. An FN person may have put the tree on the bonfire by now, but a TN person has already replanted it in the garden.

A TN person has already learnt the rules of three new board games. An FN person has by now lost the rules of three new board games. An FN person gets given electrical gadgets for Christmas that do not work. A TN person will usually point out that they do work, but that the FN person has put one of the batteries in the wrong way.

A TN parent makes a list on Christmas Day of exactly which presents to the children were given by which relation. This is beyond the FN parent who is, instead, skilled in the art of writing thank-you letters that avoid all mention of the nature of the gift but still sound grateful.

FN people are beginning to wish they had remembered to book in advance for the pantomime, especially when they meet TN people who have already been and enjoyed it. (TN people always enjoy the panto because of the virtuous glow of having remembered to book.) By now, TN people are carrying out their new year resolutions, while FN people are trying to remember what they were.

Tomorrow: for people who can't handle Fifteenth Night - welcome to Sixteenth Night]

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