Dear L and G
I had this little pram when I was two and a half, maybe three, when we lived in the house in Neston, on the Wirral, overlooking fields of donkeys and mice, both of whom sometimes crept into our garden. The pram was navy with a 1970s pattern of green flowers. I pushed my baby round the living room in it, swerved past the grey gas fire, looped the loop round the living room.
My mum, your Gran, looked on anxiously, hovered near me, tried to help me steer. She was torn, she smiled at me playing mummy whilst she pleaded with me to slow down, using that side of the mouth voice she used when we had visitors. But I wasn’t going to be slowed. I was giddy with excitement, perhaps the adrenalin of playing mummy danced through my little veins, but more likely I think, the excitement was down to me being a fearless exhibitionist. It was the roar of the crowd. I had an audience.
The audience, my Grandma W, Grandad L and Gran E, were there to see me, but they were giving far too much attention to my new baby brother. It didn’t take my two-year-old self long to work out if I picked him up and put him in my pram, then I could steal back that limelight. And so I came to be swerving round the living room with the precious little bundle of my brother.
I don’t remember how the story ends, to be honest I don’t even know if it is memory or fantasy. Like you L, I liked to explore the boundaries between truth and reality. But I like to think of it as my first ‘memory’ of my baby brother, who is 2 years and 4 months younger than me, just as G is 2 years and 2 months younger than you L.
I am told repeatedly I used to wrap my arms across his body, under his chubby chin. I would haul him round the room, as I gleefully called out ‘I love my little brother.’ Love and rivalry all mixed up in a too tight squeeze.
As he grew he got more fun. We both loved the Fisher Price Camper Van and garage and Duplo. He still wouldn’t let me baby him, except for once, one dark cold morning when we had to drop our Dad off at work at Pork Farms in Trentham, so our Mum could have the car for the day. A moth had crept into our beige Renault 5 (see picture above), in the window beside my brother’s black plastic car seat, he was terrified and let me cuddle him all the way home. This is a real memory, I remember screwing my eyes up tight and putting it there, probably because I knew he’d never sit still for a cuddle again.
Then there was bunk beds, Lego, cooking together, inventing new recipes, silly challenges, toilet humour, falling over with laughter over biscuits called Bums in Denmark. We became a united force against our parents, holidays stick in my mind. Our in car entertainment caused them to take major wrong turnings on motorways across Europe.
When we went to school, I finally got to mother and protect him. More so at secondary school, and mainly on the E78 bus, where he picked fights from time to time and launched the dish from his Hom Ec class out the window of the top deck, onto the cars below.
There were discos, parties, festivals. Stories best left for another day. Visits to each others’s universities, proper jobs. Uncle A lived with me and Daddy in London. More cooking.
Then you two arrived, a little bit of sibling history repeating itself.
Then a nephew for me, a cousin for you.
And that in a very small nutshell is me and my brother. Brothers are brilliant.
Happy Birthday Uncle A!
I’m sure Uncle A will tell his own version of the story, in fact he’s already started look:
The last Thursday of the month is the Memory Book linky. September’s theme is Siblings or childhood friends. You could post a single photo, write about your memories, interview a relative, get a relative to guest post, write it as a letter to your child, include a bit of a diary entry, write a list, make some bullet points, whatever you like. When we’ve collected a few, if you want to join me, we can self publish them into a Memory Book.
Next month the theme is Food.