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I’m grateful for my family.
Now, I can’t write the sort of post that some of you can, and perhaps will, about a close-knit family and a wonderfully stable upbringing with intimate family ties and regular family celebrations. A friend of mine grew up this way, and when we have lunch, as we do a couple of times a year, it seems there are always three or four more great-nieces and nephews, and someone else is getting married or having a baby, and she’s just attended a massive reunion somewhere on the East coast. My family wasn’t like that at all. We were far-flung at a time when communication, other than by what came to be known as ‘snail mail,’ was often impossible, and was always complicated, expensive, and slow.
What I cherish in my family, which is full of them, are the madcaps and eccentrics. Aunty Betty, who, once she became a centenarian, spent her declining years in a torrid love affair with her imaginary boyfriend, John, the King of China. Uncle Arthur, who, at the age of 90, made the most of his church raffle winnings by borrowing his friend, the Bishop of Worcester’s, helmet and leathers and living one of his dreams by taking off for a ride on the back of a Honda Gold Wing. My mother, whose spontaneous, inventive, and bawdy lyrics for popular songs I still can’t get out of my head, even now. Our very own Miss Chips, Aunty Pat (93, may she live forever), who still gets hundreds of letters and cards every year from the thousands of pupils she taught when they were six years old, who’ve never forgotten their first teacher, and who visit her whenever their travels take them through Birmingham.