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Round-robin envy

You dread the moment.

You open the card and out falls the folded piece of paper - at the top, the smiling family, gathered around the Labrador ("So much you can do on the iPad now! Our daughter did this and she's only two months!"); below, the list of achievements that makes Sir David Attenborough and Ranulph Fiennes look like a couple of wasters.

"We were delighted with Alistair's results …" I bet you were and, yes, you've given us the details. How kind. Latin and Greek at just 13. Well, he is in that fast-track class, of course, the one where they actually set the exam questions for the kind of schools your lot attend.

The violin too? My, but he's a clever lad. Shouldn't wonder he's in the rugby squad too - ah, there you go.

A tour of New Zealand in the summer. And here's the link to the pics on Flickr. Thanks! I'll enjoy that. Might even print them off, all 300.

Mum has typed it, of course. Now she's telling you about her husband, the fellow you were at college with back when, for a few brief months, your lives ran on parallel tracks, until your rails veered away and became a branch line and then a rusty, weed-covered halt, whereas his shone and gleamed and marked the route to glory. Still, no point being bitter. Eats you up.

Let's get back to the letter. He's been made a partner! Wonderful news!

And there's more. Wait … delightful farmhouse …Tuscany … just had to go for it on impulse. That's splendid. After all, you've never understood how anyone can put up with just having the one house.

But it's your turn now. There's plenty you can say. Your son has achieved some very high figures this last year too. "Unauthorised absences" were up around 15, and that has to be a personal best.

The comment from the English teacher was lovely: "James is an inquisitive boy, sometimes about the subject at hand …"

His Duke of Edinburgh certificate is worth a line, too. Most youngsters are on this, volunteering hard for their Gold, Silver or Bronze Awards.

So it was good of the D of E to provide a new category for your boy: Scrap Metal.

That will look fine on the certificate, especially if it's in Latin. Actually, perhaps Alistair could translate? No, silly to ask. He's crewing on that yacht across the Atlantic.

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Education

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