Today is one of those days. My mother is finally out of the hospital (carers four times a day) and we (Mum, my aunt Margaret, my brother and my sister and her family) as well as Mark and myself are meeting up for lunch. Margaret likes these things and this will be her first real chance for ages - not that the gathering is as large as usual - generally it is in the teens but has been known to be in the upper twenties. I don't know how the others feel about them but I'm not too keen. Flavia, meanwhile, is off to see her father. Meeting at the local railway station at ten o'clock. Doubtless he will have yet some other reason as to why he doesn't pay a penny towards her upkeep. I've given up on him and, did he but know it, so has she. Her primary reason for agreeing to these monthly meetings is money; she tries to get as much out of him as she can. Today she has her sights set on some Doc Marten boots for her birthday. Personally I don't hold out too much hope. They cost over £100 and Simon doesn't really spend that much money - unless it is for himself. Mind you, she's a sneaky thing. Last time she needed a bathing costume and was going to search in New Look before announcing her intention of going into Primark. Simon, snob that he is, didn't want to go anywhere that house Morlocks (and thus took her to BHS. She doesn't get it from me!)
I think being the youngest had a bad effect on me - and not necessarily that which you are assuming. I wasn't the indulged baby but, rather, grew up convinced that I was humoured, albeit impatiently. Everyone was older - aunts, uncles, cousins - and when I say older, I mean older. By at least 15 years. I suspect the problem was (and is) mine rather than theirs but I always felt (and feel) that anything I say or do is humoured but in actuality please let us get back to the adult conversation. A bit of a bummer when one is 48! Of course I shot myself in the foot somewhat when I married a man who regarded me as being an imbecile and had no hesitation of telling me. Repeatedly. Now I feel I am a permanent disappointment - which says something when one considers that I don't think anyone expected much from me anyway! I wish I were sassy, like my grandmother - like Flavia, for that matter. But I'm not. I am (as the spellcheck wanted to change sassy) a sissy. Scared of everything, convinced I am a failure. I might laugh at the dog for being such a creature of habit but like recognises like! The difference, of course, is that I don't like lying on my back having my head rubbed but otherwise we are frighteningly similar. Oh, yes, he can lick his posterior, something I can neither do nor aspire towards.
We are an odd family. Dysfunctional, I think, is the correct term but then point me in the direction of a functional one. I was scared of my brother and sister when I was young, then developed a rapport with my brother before finding out he was so much under the cats' paw that he sided with Simon in the residency case (he is a cleric, after all). I have, superficially, forgiven him but I distrust him to the nth degree. Of course, it wasn't helped when I was told both Simon and I were invited to my niece's wedding on the understanding I didn't fight with him. As Flavia says, she has yet to see me angry. I strongly suspect I can't which I believe is a huge personality flaw. Now my sister and I have a reasonable relationship but the whole family ties thing? Who do you think you're kidding? My brother actually holidayed 10 miles away from my sister (driving within 1/2 a mile of her) yet didn't even consider stopping off to say, 'hello.'
Of course, it's all Hollywood's fault. They might have given us the Ewings and the Colbys but they've also given us the family in Meet Me in St Louis and the Waltons. How can any family measure up to such ideals? Can siblings be friends? More than friends - close, loving and willing to sacrifice for the other. I haven't seen any examples in real life, but then hey, what do I know? My social group is neither large nor hectic - I managed to miss any indication that there's a Mardi Gras celebration in Cardiff today which I can't help but think is pretty good going. Personally I think this whole, 'blood is thicker than water,' stuff is absolute hogwash. I mean, come on! Throughout history siblings have double-crossed, cheated and betrayed each other - at the very least they have indulged in some serious one-upmanship. Life is far closer to Shakespeare's Richard III than the Waltons but we all love the myth. We all love to believe that brother would sacrifice himself for sister and that the world is well lost for love.
They could, of course, be right. But familial love? If you believe in that I have a bridge I can sell you....