Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
That is probably what our Big Brother was thinking when faced by our
Little Sister’s list of Questions To Be Answered. To be fair, it was the most loving of inquisitions. It was also most instructive in revealing details of our shared childhood and leading our conversation down many previously untravelled pasts.
Yes, indeed, yesterday was our Brothers and Sisters Day which used to be an annual event in our diaries until various health issues followed by the Pesky Pandemic put paid
to our get-together for a goodly while. It was the Youngest of the Darling Daughters who encouraged me to try to organise another meet-up, pointing out that now we have the Room Outdoors we have the perfect space for partying. My lovely niece, Dawn, and her
fella Mark were more than happy to drive their parents down here so saving them driving themselves - it was no trouble, they assured me, as they would be able to meet up with friends living locally - while my Little Sister and her fella made a weekend of it,
bringing with them all the makings of a spectacular Berry Pavlova for our celebration dessert. It was far too special to be called a humble “pudding.”
day before the Main Event, we did a lot of forward planning to ensure that we would all be up and breakfasted, with the vegetables prepared, the beef ready for the oven and the pavlova assembled in all its considerable glory by the time the final members of
our party arrived. We also found time to assist my Little Sister in compiling a list of questions to which she felt sure our Big Brother, being so much older than both of us, would have the answers. Questions like: what was the name of the little Sealyham
dog who stole the sausages when our mother opened the oven door to remove our dinner? What did he remember about the day our Little Sister was born? Was he with us on those caravan holidays to the seaside which we remember so fondly? Where was the Bluebell
Park we used to visit? Plus many, many more.
Such a lovely day we had, sitting in the sunshine in the Room Outdoors, reminiscing over roast beef, roast potatoes,
parsnips, mixed vegetables and the mandatory Yorkshire puddings. As cook for the main course, I was delighted that everyone’s plate was wiped clean with just a few stray carrots left in the serving bowl. The Berry Pavlova arrived to great acclaim and
I had to admit that it was None of My Doing - though my brother-in-law claimed a share in the credit on account of having trotted down to the local shop to buy some fresh cream first thing in the morning.
Keeping us amused all afternoon were the antics of a baby sea-gull on the roof of a neighbour’s house - we had our hearts in our mouths watching it skittering up and down the steep roof on precariously skinny legs while
its parents (obviously practitioners of the Tough Love mode of parenting) watched on apparently unconcerned. That baby (if it survives!) will one day turn into a scary scavenger swooping on unsuspecting folk’s fish and chips but for the moment it is
very sweet and extremely fluffy. Albeit incredibly noisy…
As well as the answers to the many questions, our Big Brother had lots of other stories to tell.
There was the interview he had to attend to see if he could be admitted to his secondary school. He was eleven years old and the first question was: if the time on a clock is half past two, how many minutes are there between the two hands? He had precisely
a minute to answer that, with a further minute to answer the follow up question: what time will it be the next time there are the same number of minutes between the two hands? How long did it take you, dear reader, to work out the answers? And most of you
are over eleven years old…
Then there was the story of how, soccer lover that he was, he used to take his football boots along to Dagenham Park on a Saturday
morning to ask the various teams playing there if they were short of a player. He invariably managed to get a game, signing the player registration form as “Mickey Mouse”…
When Dawn and Mark arrived to collect him, my Little Sister was only half way through her list of questions - so they stayed on to join us for more chat and a cream tea. It was the perfect end to a perfect Brothers and Sisters Day.
There was, sadly, one empty seat at the table - for our younger brother who lives in far-away Scotland - but he was ever present in our reminiscences of the childhood he
shared with the three of us. Especially as in a couple of days time he celebrates his 80th birthday. When did we all get so, well, old? we wondered.
didn't ponder on it for too long, to be honest, because for one afternoon only we were Back in Time when we were young and foolish and life was all ahead of us.
like the baby sea-gull. But not so noisy.