So who are the other characters in the sit-com of my life?
Which two innocent beings were responsible for the creation of this bubbling blonde mass of insecurities cunningly disguised as a fierce and fiesty be-atch?
First up, I give you Patricia aka De Mama, the alpha female of the Blake posse:
Standing tall at 5ft 2, she’s a Deborah Meaden/Big Mo hybrid. She resembles the indomitable Ms Meaden not only in facial features but also her staunchly suspicious nature, keeping her (bank) cards close to her chest – her trust is earned.
She’s like a learned owl, and having had her fingers burnt by a few unscrupulous characters and one laptop-hacking bunch of Eastern Europeans, is more security-conscious than The Pentagon. If an email comes in from an unknown source, it’s ISIS.
However, she’s also as street-savvy as Big Mo from Eastenders – she ain’t takin’ no crap from nobody. Like me, she’s an action-packed feisty bundle of ‘tude, who loves nothing more than bustin’ out shapes to the latest Ibiza anthems. She can “big fish, little fish” with the best of ’em. When I would roll in at 6am Sundays (still do sometimes!) worse for wear with a faceful of smudged glitter eyeshadow following a marathon raving sesh, she’d climb out of bed for a cuppa whilst I filled her in on the night’s events. I got my strong twerk ethic from her.
More recently, she zoomed across a series of 650ft-high ziplines above the Costa Rican rainforest despite her fear of heights, grimacing like Wallace and Gromit til her face ached. She’s awesome. The best mother I ever had.
Of course, I didn’t get my height from De Mama, as I’m almost six feet tall. No, I owe my go-go-gadget limbs to my dad, Alan :
My pops is of the old school stiff upper lip era, a hard-working salt of the earth geezer hailing from south east London. He first locked eyes with a teenaged De Mama as she casually tossed her flowing blonde locks and sauntered past him whilst out walking Red, her imaginatively-named red setter, as he was playing football (my dad, not the dog.)
They were soon married and to their shock, surprise and…dismay, I put in an appearance soon after. Letting out forlorn sighs, they accepted their fate; their lives were now ruined anyway so they may as well try for a son too….and then promptly had Karen, my sister. Oh well!
Dad had gone from a carefree young chap to being surrounded by familial females, so he had no choice but to do what any bloke in his position would…..he went down the pub. For oh, about 20 years or so.
He may not have got a word in edgeways in our three-bed semi, but surrounded by his colleagues and mates he was the life and soul of the party. Never one to hold back, he loved nothing more after a tough day at the office than to shimmy on down to Smollensky’s with some clients and have a few bevvies ‘on the baron.’
My parents are chalk and cheese in many respects, and their ability to partake in a par-tay is one of them. Whilst Dad has always been the beer-guzzler, Mum is unconscious, eyeballs rolling, after one whiff of a wine gum. She henceforth became the lifelong designated driver, ferrying a pickled Pops home from their jobs in The City.
No strangers to hard work, they’d both clock up untold hours there each week, striving to give us kids the best of everything. Annoyingly sometimes, they also passed on their strong work ethic to me, making it physically impossible for me to skive off school even if I wanted to : a guilt complex ensured there’ll never be any shirking from home for me.
They also share a love of music, the soundtrack to my childhood being icons such as The Beach Boys, Queen and Abba, played full blast on vinyl on our old Sony stacking stereo. On Friday nights after the pub my dad would wear out the VHS player watching The Blues Brothers repeatedly on video. Despite a tendancy towards being the strong silent type, I know my dad would do anything for me. He really is top of the Pops…
Then there’s my ickle snish Karen. Born three years after yours truly, she was my nemesis for the first 21 years of my life until I disappeared one day into the Ibizan sunset.
As kids, I’d threaten her with dreadful dreamt-up outcomes if she disobeyed my commands. My favourite was getting her to massage my feet for hours on end “otherwise Misty (our cat) will die.” Cruel I know, but highly effective and a perk of being the eldest. The only perk I reckon, seeing as the youngest generally has a far easier time of it.
Firstborns send mums into a frenzy of cooing and fussing, cleaning and mollycoddling. By the time the second sprog arrives the frazzled mother lets them sit goggle-eyed in front of Peppa on the telly eating fistfuls of soggy snacks, grateful for a bit of respite.
The sibling rivalry ramped up to fever pitch as we got older and the ensuing ‘accidents’ came fast and furious. One unfortunate incident involving Karen being tied with a skipping rope to the back of my bike as I pedalled furiously down the street until her foot was a mangled mess in the spokes. A frantic trip to A&E followed for stitches. Boy, did I cop it for that one!
Another time, she threw a hairbrush at me full-force, which split my lip wide open and left me looking like something out of The Nutty Professor. Never a good look for an already self-conscious teen.
We spent many years in a tight tangle of fighting limbs, just as you’d see in an old Tom and Jerry cartoon…..a spinning ball of bodies with the occasional arm or leg sticking out. Black eyes and bulging bumps were de rigeur. We only stopped arguing to eat or sleep.
Exhausted by it all, upon my return from Ibiza aged 22, we decided to call a truce. My parents heaved a sigh of relief as harmony was (for the most part) restored. Today, she’s my mate and confidante and I love her dearly. We even live a few doors apart in the same street. Her rebellious nature has been replaced with a personality as soft and mellow as marshmallow. She’s almost TOO nice. She is now engaged to Chris and mother to a mischievous two year old son named Hayden, who melts our hearts and tests our nerves in equal measure.
The final remaining member of our immediate family is Gramps, my paternal grandfather who is still going strong at the ripe age of 88. Due to his forgetfulness these days he’s as shocked as anyone else when we tell them his age, such is his youthful constitution and pink flushed cheeks.
He loves long walks in the woods and flickering old black and white movies, although he doesn’t follow the plot so keenly these days and falls asleep mid-sentence like the grandpa in The Simpsons.
So that’s it! The players in the game of my life. You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family, but that’s fine by me as I’d still pick each of them…..
……in a line-up.