“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family”
- I was 7.
- Kylie still loved Jason.
- Alice bands, shell suits and scrunchies were in vogue.
- I mastered handstands, cartwheels and cat’s cradle.
- My troll collection quadrupled to an outrageously impressive: 4.
- Wallace took Gromit on a grand day out and they ate lots of cheese.
- A big wall fell down in Berlin and all the grown-ups got very excited.
- My youngest brother Mike was born.
Admittedly, I didn’t necessarily greet the latter with the enthusiasm it deserved. I actually recall telling my parents in no uncertain terms to send him back.
My three other brothers failed to sympathise, as unlike me – they were delighted to have another man about the house.
Not just 2.4 children
There was a Simpsons’ poster on display in my father’s study for several years when I was growing up. It read -
“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family”.
I was never entirely sure what constituted ‘normal’ but I was pretty confident we weren’t it.
- Oli was a nerd.
- Chris sang. At all times.
- I was the only girl and as such – terribly misunderstood.
- Joe was into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, aliens and dinosaurs.
- Mike liked whatever Joe liked.
- Dad worked roughly 87 hours a week.
- Mum was the glue that held us all together.
There were certain logistical advantages to being the only girl – I got my very own room for example. I also got a lot of sympathy from strangers. “Four brothers? You poor thing. They must pick on you an awful lot”. God no. I was a red belt in Tae Kwon-Do, they wouldn’t dare.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing however:
- Oli’s bedroom was next to mine. He played Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ on repeat at 140 decibels for about 3 years. I played Boyzone.
- Chris decapitated my Tiny Tears doll. I punched him.
- Joe shot me with Nerf bullets. A lot. I locked him in the garden shed.
- Mike copied Joe. He also ended up in the shed.
Grown-ups (well, almost)
Dad confiscated Joe’s Nerf gun on a Sunday afternoon in 1992, following an unfortunate incident with our neighbour’s pet goat. I don’t believe it was ever returned to him. He’s currently a Team Leader for Costa, loves playing host and is highly domesticated.
Mike no longer copies everything Joe does. He closely resembles a Wookiee and favours music that makes his ears bleed.