Initially I wrote the character sheet as presented at the end, because that's how I'd actually plan a character for a novel: get the interesting facts down on paper with a few snippets of in-character dialogue, and append any alterations due to plot later. This is the 'role-playing' approach to characterisation. However, it wasn't what the task asked for, leading to the below.

1. Thatcher By Name, Percophile By Nature

Mozart! Bugger! Accustomed as she was to springing into action before her radio alarm, Sadie was jolted out of her reverie by the distorted howl of overdriven classical ensemble. Blearily, she drew the tangle of copper hair away from her face, flipped a Ramones disc into the CD changer, hit play, and stumbled around looking for a towel and the plot.

"Tweny-tweny-tweny-four hours away, I wanna be sedated…sod, I'm gonna be late!"

Enlivened by a lobster-broiling shower, she ticked off her itinerary: Post that damned UCAS form; chair English-class discussion; phone Virgin, check hours for this weekend and order CD for Kate; give Daniel, Lou & Stephen their tickets for tonight; skim through local LibDem manifesto; work out, jerk off; get Dad to take a look at computer case fan. Yeah, I'm sure he wants to see the inside of more of those when he gets in from work. As a wise man once said, never could get the hang of Tuesdays. Shit, how long have I been in here?

Exiting the bathroom and being immediately confronted with the debauched spectacle of her brother's door, she flicked water and suds disparagingly in the direction of his most worrying Sailor Moon poster. Daily rituals don't come much weirder than this. Wonder what he's doing right now? Probably in bed skiving lectures. She halted and mused…


"Yeah, mom!"

"Are you coming home before the concert tonight?"

"I told you, I'll cook! Spag bol with button mushies, 'k?"

No time for make-up. Do it at college. Rapidly, she exhumed a 'Save The Gay Whale' t-shirt, pulled on flared jeans and ruby DMs, and flicked over to MTV2. Hey-hey, Muse! An underdog makes it through the fence! Ageing-but-still-furry backpack-Yoda quickly became the receptacle for pens, mobile and notebook. Books! Morse or Hitchhikers? Oh, mustn't forget The Bell Jar! Fiddling with a sports bra, her finger traced the outline of the small green four-leaf clover atop her collarbone. Eventually, she knew, she'd have to explain said tattoo to more people. Her parents. Maybe even Daniel, if he gets into Exeter too. She grinned.

Hurtling through the lounge, Sadie found her mother sifting through international library classification documents with a distracted eye on tea and toast. Time for cornflakes at least. She poured herself a large mug of freshly ground caffeine and scoffed breakfast. Ouchie, head still not working. Drugs baaad…more natural stimulants, please. She reached for the percolator. I drink far too much of this stuff.

She rose from the table and shouldered the diminutive Jedi master.

"Sadie, take your Nokia!"

"What, you expect me to have to hit someone with it?"

"Darling, you asked me to remind you to call—"

"—Gotta go, Mom; have a destiny to catch!"

Must. Learn. To drive! Green eyes twinkled with mischief and she was out of the swinging door; gingerly hurdling next-door's slumbering Alsatian and sprinting into the distance after the two-six-nine. As she ran, she hummed a riff from the Dead Kennedy's 1982 folk song, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off". It was going to be a good day.

* * *

Preparatory character profile

Sadie Thatcher — "I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it!"

Sadie (18) has wavy, chaotic hair which is a natural shade of warm copper, eyes which tend towards green but often vary, and good teeth (the result of formative years of much-hated braces). Freckles slightly in summer weather. She is extremely open-minded, faintly bi-curious, and gets immensely frustrated by apathetic people and bigots. Maintains a weekend job at a local Virgin Megastore, dealing with customers with a natural confidence and sunny disposition. She's a lover of other people's cats, both a people and animal person, but has a lingering childhood fear of large dogs. Her older brother (20) lives out at university, and they maintain a cordially sarcastic but affectionate relationship. Mother works locally as a librarian; father handles out-sourcing to payroll firms and small-business networks. Her favourite colour is green.

Sartorially, she prefers hand-embroidered knee-length skirts over jeans (mostly flared), sloganised white t-shirts, and red DMs (Doc Martens). Rarely seen without a much-loved Yoda character-shaped backpack… the material around his ears is a little worn, but there's life in the "wise lil' green guy" yet. The t-shirts tend toward a liberal political activism, being anti-sexist, pro-freedom of speech, or simply funny and/or thoughtful. People have generally given up making cracks at her surname, on account of her outspoken and evident ideologies, cheery grin, and occasional right-hook.

Mildly technophobic but gets by with computers for the odd essay and e-mail. A fan of Sylvia Plath, Douglas Adams and Colin Dexter. Enjoys any music which isn't "trite, patronising, or outright corporate whoredom!" Currently single and enjoying the break, with half an eye on a fellow English Lit student (who shares similar university aspirations.) Drinks far too much percolated black coffee and knows it. Cooks a mean bolognese (no, not a vegetarian, at least not for a few years now.) Is given to the occasional lapse of sanity regarding smoking when in pubs and with friends who do, but jogs, exercises and swims on a fairly regular basis, which she feels serves somewhat to cancel out her worse habits. Is slowly learning to drive.

Sadie has a small tattoo of an Irish shamrock on her left shoulder underneath her bra strap, the result of a stoned bet which remains a secret from most who know her. Refuses to wear jewellery (and somewhat regrets the tattoo). She holds a strong dislike for forms of Japanimation which infantilise women and sexualise schoolgirls. Owns a couple of videos of German hardcore pornography. Has never touched any drugs apart from the very occasional joint with company (actually, avoids most pharmaceutical "concoctions" wherever possible, and would rather have an orgasm than an aspirin.) Is not fond of mobile phones, but tolerates a simple black-facia'd Nokia "for use in emergencies—as a projectile, Mom!"

Cuddly toys are kept to a reasonable minimum, more those of younger years than of latter. Room generally looks tidy but busy, with papers and books occupying floor and surfaces, and more books and a modest selection of cosmetics arranged across shelves alongside an eclectic CD collection. Watches a fair mix of TV but "wouldn't really miss it if the transmitters decided they needed a good, long rest from Neighbours and its UK ilk!" Does adore music television, and would like to play electric guitar given the time and any discovered proficiency. Maybe at university…