The Third Leader: Today's the day...

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The Independent Online

So, results day. The reckoning, the confirmation of hope and fear. Such days are what life is for - the highs, the lows, sensations as sharp as the tear of the envelope, as shrill as the shriek of straight As.

Congratulation will mingle with commiseration, friendship and stamina will be tested to the limits, and once again killjoys will be asking urgently if it is getting easier to get your picture in the paper if you're blonde and agree to jump in the air with excitement.

Do I have any advice? Well, get there in plenty of time, as I once found myself scouring a list with the aid of lighted matches, which doesn't do much for the stress levels.

If you're reading this on the way, I should warn you that although, theoretically it's never too late, your prayer will have to be particularly powerful, as everything's been printed by now. Much better to turn to the Independent Extra and the calming ways of Sudoku, but stick to the Intermediate rather than the Advanced, as there's no point in getting depressed early.

If you've got your results, I'm assuming you've not done terribly well, as otherwise you'd be too busy with the jumping in the air while defending current standards. I did look up some consoling quotations, but it's all kneegroinworthy stuff about failure being the father of success rather than a real pain, so just get back to our Ucas pages.

If you're a parent, before or after, whatever, take those three deep breaths that have been and will be useful for many years yet. Everybody else: permit yourself the small smile of the spared.