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In families, everything is a false dichotomy.

You are the clever one, your brother is the caring one.

He’s the practical one while you pale at the sight of blood.

You have a butterfly mind, you take things too personally.

“You ran here? You?!”

You absolutely, definitely cannot cook.

Yes, yes and flippin’ well no to all of  it!

You become Mrs Prickle-ooh-Touchy, as you serve your four course Michelin starred gourmet meal while bandaging up the finger which got caught under the steak knife. There will be a raised eyebrow, an appreciative murmur. But you’re still a terrible cook and you still nearly fainted when you were 12.

I sulk at this. I close off. I am Mrs Touchy-pants.

But I do it back. I tease my mum about her headmistress glare, my dad about his terrible puns, my brother about his awful shorts.  I don’t like it when my mum goes into custody suites to check prisoners aren’t being mistreated – I thought she wanted to throw away the key! I thought she was campaigning to bring back the workhouse!

It’s such a huge anchor – in our family, at least – the set in stone “funny one, academic one, rebellious one”, even if only to take the opposing path (“she used to be quite shy, now she never shuts up”… I was only shy in Church when you told me to ‘shh’ when I was 5. I haven’t been shy in 30 years…)

Your family know how to press your buttons, they say, because they sewed them on.




One response »

  1. Well observed Charlotte. My mother was the one who kept all the family together, across continents from Canada to Australia. Now she is no longer with us, I do my best but I can see that once my generation is gone, the connection will be difficult to sustain.


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