Monday, 25 February 2013

It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen

And suddenly... Monday!

Well, I don't know about you guys, but that last weekend just zoomed past. I got the precise total of no things done at all, watched a bit of TV, ate a wonderful roast pork dinner, Sat through 'Battleship' with liam Neeson and that geezer what played Gambit in the X-Men film - I hope you guys did nothing of any import too.


So, today's Blog is a character assassination of my Brother, well no, it's not really... I love my Brother, if I had to make a list of the people who've helped me out most over the last forty years, he'd be at the top of it. But when we were little and everything, he was a monster. (At least, according to my Mother, who relayed these stories to me, although she did have a reputation for embellishment - So, whilst they are, to the best of my knowledge true, there's a possibility of artistic licence in the details.)

Love you Man!

Let me do a little scene-setting. My Brother is ten years older than me, born in the fifties, grew up in the sixties, went to Uni in the seventies, got married in the eighties, rode the promotion rocket in the nineties, retired in the noughties and now lives in his hollow volcano, super-villain hideout in the Mediterranean eating Greek food and playing Star Wars: The Old Republic.

My earliest memory of my brother is, of course, one of torment and torture. (quelle suprise I hear regular readers gasp) When I was but a mewling, pewking, babe in arms, he was my babysitter whilst our parents desperately tried to have a social life. Remember this was the seventies, and parents having a social life was not yet frowned upon. As my Brother was a fairly normal pre-teen, his brand of babysitting often involved putting me where I would be least trouble and continuing with... Whatever it was he did... Watching TV, eating more walnut whips than was strictly good for him and suchlike.

His safe-place of choice on this particular occasion was a doorframe mounted baby-bouncer. If you haven't seen this kind of contraption, it comprises a clamp, attached to the top of the doorframe, then a long spring, some 'safety' straps and a seat, with holes for the feet, sort of like a plastic nappy. (One wonders if this is how fetishes start?) I was a needy child, which in fairness hasn't changed that much, and I enjoyed this contraption, but only if it was moving. Every once in a while my brother would wander over to me and give me a push, that would see me bouncing, or swinging, depending which way he pushed, into paroxysms of happy gurgling.

I guess on this one occasion, I had become particularly needy, and there was possibly some frustration on his part. But the next thing I knew, he'd taken hold of the 'gusset' of the bouncer, took a few steps back and let go. I went shooting into the other room, the spring stretched, then contracted, and sent me shooting back into the living room. I understand that I quite enjoyed this... Initially. Until he tried it again, and on this occasion took a few more steps back.

This time, I performed the same repeated trip between the two rooms, but at a higher speed, with my head snapping back and forth like an acid-fuelled Woody Woodpecker, and... Are you familiar with the latin phrase ad nauseum? - Seemingly, I went slightly past that point. Well, let's say that I'm glad that I didn't have to pay for a new carpet.


The second incident is a Christmas story, one overflowing with comfort and joy. Our Father, at the time, worked at an electrical shop, and as such was the go-to guy for Christmas lights. We had everything it was possible to get; Flower-shaped ones, Snowflake-shaped ones, Cold-cathode ones that flickered like candles and, my personal favourite, a string of fairy lights where every bulb was a mini lava lamp - I poop you not! - All running on 240 volts, no transformers, no 'Ideal for outdoor use' labels, proper man's electricity, with all the danger and fire-risk that that suggests.

The setup for this story is the same as before, parents out, Brother babysitting, although I think I was a little older, maybe four or five. And I'm not sure how the subject came up, I think we were shining torches up each other's noses to make them glow red. And then 'someone' suggested that if I were to put a fairy light bulb in my mouth, my whole head would probably light up.

I think he paniced when he heard the crunch of broken glass, and ran to get a towel from the kitchen and 'encouraged' me to spit the razor-sharp shards into it. I can't remember that there was a lot of blood, which was definately more by luck that judgement. It's not an experiment that either of us were in any great hurry to repeat - And I suggest you do not try it at home, or at B&Q or Asda.

(And to clarify, the bulb had been removed from the light fitting, I mean, he wasn't mad or anything)


My final story for today is one of mayhem, death and destruction. It is the tale of a young child, sadly robbed of his innocence too soon, cruelly snatched from under his Mother's wing and thrust into the harsh, actinic glare of the real world with not a thought for his wellbeing, future trust issues, or length of his limbs.

The stairs at my parents house were (and still are for that matter) very steep. My Dad would often arrange for Chris Bonington to come around to the house and give us tips on how to scale them safely. (Especially the difficult overhang on the West face) There was a family of goats on the third step from the top that you had to give a portion of your packed lunch to before they would let you pass. Standing at the top, you got the same view that Hawaiian cliff divers get just before they take a deep breath and make like a Puffin, only the sea is made of deep-pile berber that the landlord got cheap after one of his other tenants 'tripped and fell'.

Steep, right?

Anywho, we used to play a mean game of cops and robbers, did my Brother and I. Well, I say cops and robbers, it was more sort of beat the poop out of me (in a brotherly and loving fashion), tie me up, stow me somewhere where I wouldn't be found too quickly, and then wander off and do something more exciting. On this occasion however, there was some 'Escalation' as I believe it's called in serial killer parlance. There was the standard light beating, as one had come to expect, possibly a chinese burn or two, and then my hands were tied together with one of the many ties that my Father regularly got for Christmas but never wore.

Then the other end of the tie was loosely tied around the banister rail... As I am a kind and loving person, who never holds a grudge, I'll describe what happened next as me 'losing my footing'. Have you ever fallen downstairs? it used to be a weekly event for me when I lived at home. It involves a kind of rolling motion, designed to spread the trauma over your whole body. That can't happen when you're tied to a banister. So my ass took a real pounding.

No, there might be a better way to say that... Aw hell, you've read it now anyway.

He was very apologetic, once he'd stopped laughing and came downstairs and untied me.


So there you go, my Mother couldn't stop interfering in my life even after she died, my Father made free and easy with the Lords' little feathery creatures and my Brother was, well, one hesitates to use the words 'Fratricidal Maniac' doesn't one?.. So let's say, just a completely normal Big Brother - He even painted the number 101 on our shared bedroom door.

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