Today is my Little Sister's birthday. It is also, coincidentally, Prince Charles's birthday. Many happy returns Your Royal Highness. And you, too, Prince Charles of course.
the risk of repeating myself (I know I have related this story before) when my sister was small she honestly believed that when they played God Save the Queen on the radio on November 14th it was in honour of her special day. It is perfectly possible that
she still does, as I have never sought to disillusion her. I suppose they do still play the National Anthem on the radio on significant birthdays? I seem to remember that not every Royal personage's birthday warranted the full verse; for some minor princes
and princesses only half a verse was played. As Heir to the Throne, Prince Charles merited a whole verse as did my Little Sister on account of being Herself.
I wonder how it was decided who should have a half
a verse and who the whole verse? I wonder if it caused any unrest in the Royal nurseries to have evidence of this hierarchical accident of birth made plain on each and every birthday. Can you imagine only singing half of Happy Birthday for a younger child
and just a line for the very youngest?
My sister and I have never had an argument in all our lives. This fact we have trotted out from time to time as we felt it was needed to our own off-spring who find it
both unbelievable and mildly irritating. "There must have been some times...." they suggest - but we shake our heads gently and proudly and grin to think how very easy it is to get along with each other when you are true Kindred Spirits.
I was three and a half years old when my sister was born and my first clear memory is of being taken by my father into a back bedroom to be introduced to the newest addition to the family. I adored her from first sight. On
cold winter days, our Mum would tuck me into the pram next to her and I would cuddle down under the blankets and hope that everybody peeping in would think we were twins. The sheer unlikelihood of this never entered my curly head.
The amazing thing about having a sister is never having to explain yourself. Somehow you just know. I am sure that explanations have A Lot To Answer For on the basis that the very act of explanation invites dissent. Sisters just get
along with it, whatever "it" may be - from the early years of walking to school together, to introducing our off-spring to each other in the happy expectation that they would, of course, be life-long friends, to more recently sharing the experiences of being
newly retired and growing accustomed to a whole new Way of Life.
The other amazing thing is that my Little Sister grew up and became a truly Splendid Person who, as a social worker, worked with the most challenging
of families in situations which I am pretty sure I would not have been able to face. I wonder when she grew to be so strong, so wise, so - well - grown-up?
Having said that, we are still children at heart,
my Little Sister and I. Give us a set of maracas or a plastic guitar and we'll out-perform all the rest at a family party. As for games - bring them on. You name it, we'll play it, with total dedication and energy, despite not being the least bit competitive
ourselves. As a result we are always able to whole-heartedly congratulate the winners without even a vestige of rancour at coming a decidedly dismal last. It's playing the game that counts, not the winning. That's the firm belief we grew up with and nothing
will shake it.
For her birthday I bought my sister a book of 365 quotes about sisterhood. I was a bit worried she wouldn't receive it in time, knowing that she was going away for her birthday. This morning
I received the following text from her husband, my brother in law: "You've made her cry!"
I am pretty sure I have never, ever made her cry except in the very best of ways. As we get older it has to be said
we have got better at giving each other gifts which have held a meaning for the two of us, even if this meaning escaped everyone else. Such a lot we have shared. All those years of growing up - but never growing apart.
Happy Birthday, darling Maggie. My very special Little Sister.