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What I Wish I’d Known About Two: It’s morphin’ time

Today I’m excited to feature one of my besties, Emily from The Wiener Takes It All. Em writes like I wish I could, and compounds this brilliance by being one of my favourite people ever in real life. 

I asked Emily to write about what it’s like to be one half of an awesome twosome. If the photos are anything to go by, a fabulous number of eighties accessories are involved…

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“I’m the yellow Power Ranger, you’re the pink.”

Most of the time, being the older sister isn’t something I relish – but when you’re younger it comes in quite handy. You’re the oldest, which means you get to be the best Power Ranger. End of.

Abi is three years younger than me and she could, and still can, drive me insane. When there’s only two of you, you develop world-class skills on how to push each other’s buttons. When I was younger, if I’d gone on Mastermind, I would have sat in that squeaky black leather chair, legs swinging in the air, and, when questioned on my specialist subject I would have said, with complete confidence: “Driving my sister MAD”. I’m sure Rachel will find that Henry and He Who Is Yet To Be Named will no doubt have numerous talents, but irritating the heck out of each other will always be a gift.

When there’s two of you, you are the yin to the other’s yang. You’re salt, they’re pepper. You’re fish, they’re chips. At times you completely love each other; you have in-jokes no one else understands, you can play for hours. At other times, they make you so boiling mad you consider stealing their favourite My Little Pony and hacking its tail off with your safety scissors from the Early Learning Centre (although you don’t – that would be completely below the belt).

I believe there is a special bond that comes from being a two. We lived in each other’s pockets. I still remember the day it was time to move Abi into her own bedroom, and stop sleeping in bunk beds. I felt lost and a little bit heartbroken, even though she was still only two steps away. I had always had the top bunk (obviously – elder’s rights) and she was on the bottom. We would listen to story cassette tapes as we went to sleep – we loved the music on The Railway Children, but our favourites were the Roald Dahl stories. Apart from The Witches; I’m 27 and I still can’t get past the opening music. Blood-curdling stuff.

On Christmas Eve, Dad would ring a little bell at the bottom of the stairs, and we’d giggle hysterically in our bunk beds, knowing we had to go to sleep quickly – because he was obviously getting perilously close, and if he got to our bedroom and we were still awake, then he wouldn’t leave our presents. In retrospect, this seems a bit harsh, but we had it on good authority that it was correct.

We are completely different in so many ways. Abi is sporty, musical, with a steely edge that says: “Mess with me and I’ll knock your block off”. I’m a bookworm, happiest at home with my dog and a complete wimp. But in so many ways, we’re the same person. We’ve been mistaken for twins (by a man who then pointed at me and said “Well then, you must be the youngest”. *PUMPS FIST IN AIR* (this hasn’t happened in a while, but you have to take small victories against ageing where you can)). Growing up, she was my partner in crime, my playmate, my best friend. Who do you turn to if your friend makes you cry, or your parents annoy you? Your sister, of course. She’s your permanent ally – even if she’s been known to consider pushing you down the stairs.

We spent so much time driving each other mad. But there were times when reality would hit – and our bond would become unshakeable. I remember, very clearly, coming home from a day out with my friends. I had been to see Titanic and I’d bought the Celine Dion single on cassette. My mum came upstairs and told me some bad news about my gran’s health, that she might have to have her leg amputated. Abi was in the bath – I could hear her splashing around. I put the cassette on and sobbed. “Em, are you crying?” a little voice said. “Don’t cry, everything’s going to be ok, I’m here”. We seem to share sorrow – as if, by taking some of it on, we will relieve the pain for the other. When Abi was at university, she had one really awful day and was really upset. I got in my car, drove up the motorway and fetched her. There was no question in my mind – my little sister was upset. I had to get there and try and make some small part of it ok again.

When she was little, she nearly gave us all a heart attack. She was demonstrating the best way to perform a somersault on a sofa. In retrospect, this might not have been a fantastic idea but Abi hadn’t quite grasped the concept of danger. Like an episode of Casualty, you can probably tell something bad was about to happen: Abi flew through the air, straight in the fireplace, smashing her head against the brick surround. I remember Dad speeding us to the hospital, and the nurses rushing her into a room straightaway, her nightie covered in blood. She was fine – but the blow narrowly missed her eye. Did it stop her somersaulting on the sofa? Did it heck. Abi is fearless. I always looked up to her, even when she was a foot smaller than me. I was painfully shy when I was little – I would avoid speaking to people and would find it very hard to make friends, much preferring to be at home, walking in the woods with our dogs and reading books in our caravan. Abi was bold and brave – even when I was six and she was three.

Now that I’m older, I have the benefit of looking back and appreciating what we had. Abi made my childhood what it was. I have no memories that don’t involve her. We would spend our days playing in the garden, leaping around on the bench being Power Rangers. Playing ‘dog show’ with our Puppy in my Pocket figurines (my Airedale always won best in show – yes, being the eldest had its benefits here too, but, in my defence, everyone could see it was the superior hound). I remember playing on mounds of dirt piled up at the back of our house, at the entrance to the wood, with our walkie talkies, and the day we saw the Black Panther (I still stand by that observation – there’s no way it was just a fat cat). Practicing our dance routine to Cher’s ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’ – quite an inappropriate song for two under-tens to dance to, but who can argue with a routine that involves several well-executed handstands? We look like wayward gypsy children in most photos, because we spent most of our time tearing around the garden, on Famous Five-esque adventures. Or in hilarious fancy dress get-ups, where Abi was forced to be the boy for several years because her hair didn’t grow very quickly.

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I remember my mum asking me if I still believed in Santa, when I was about eight. And I replied: “I don’t think he is real, but I want him to be real – and that’s good enough, isn’t it? Besides, Abi still believes – and I don’t want her find out the truth”. I would have done anything to keep the world magical for Abi. I still would.

But most importantly – no one can make you laugh the way your sister can. When I was researching this piece, I texted Abi and asked if there was anything she would include. Here’s our conversation:

Emily: I’m wring my piece for Rach about growing up as a pair, can you think of anything I should include?x

Abi: Um how about you dragging me on the ghost train at the Safari Park – you closed your eyes the whole way round, sucking on a lolly, and I was left traumatised! Or the gymnastic routines where I threw myself off furniture and you twirled a finger? Oh and dancing to Cher, which now I’ve listened to the lyrics of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves was actually quite inappropriate! Apparently mum said you were always prodding me in the soft bit of my head when I was a baby. Oh and I was so jealous when you got headlice! I think because I thought they were little pets! Haha is that useful?x

E: I didn’t know that about headlice?! You weirdo lol x

A: Oh yes, I remember being so jealous!!

E: A little bit of wee just came out that was so funny x

And there you have it. You might want to push them down the stairs, but they make you laugh so much a little bit of wee comes out. And it doesn’t get much better than that.

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Instagrammatic: your years in Instagram

ayearininstagram

(or not Instagram, whatevers.)

Oh, I loved this. Thanks so much to those who participated! And thanks as well for giving me ideas about how to take better photos on my phone – my camera might be covered in teeth-marks, but I can still be a little more creative with how I use it.

First up is my all-time favourite snazzy lady Emily, who blogs about sausage dogs and other brilliance at The Wiener Takes it All (hilariously, I might add). Sometimes I write a post that makes me laugh a bit and think ‘gosh, that’s almost as good as one of Emily’s!’ And then I feel great about my life.

Her year in Instagram is here, and I include my favourite photo, in which Mort the sausage dog proves he has a glorious career in canine modelling ahead of him. If they’ll pay him in cheese.

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Next up is the wonderfully resourceful Bryony, who blogs at A Series of Beginnings about life as an expat, new mother, new runner and originator of many a creative thing. Her year in Instagram is here, and I include a lovely photo of the church in her neighbourhood: one of the best things about Bryony’s Instagram roll is the many beautiful things she manages to find within a stone’s throw of her house.

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Then we have the fabulous Lecinda, one of my favourite commenters, who blogs at Bohemian Beautiful. It’s definitely the prettiest blog I’ve seen in a while, and her Instagram collection is the same: looking at these, I thought ‘wow – this is how to use a camera phone’. See her beautifully-presented year in Instagram here!

march 2012

Last but not least, here’s James, who blogs (among other places) at Things my Children Said. His thoughts about parenting, especially children with particular needs, never fail to knock my socks off and, frankly, you should all be reading it. His year is here, and it’s lovely. Get thee there.

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Finally, these seems the right point to say something I’ve been hoarding up all year, which is THANK YOU for being here, reading and commenting. Like most people (I hope), I often feel like I’m making things up as I go along. Some days are more successful than others. But I love writing about it here, and having people read it is just the best thing ever. We’ve somehow had more than twice the number of views in 2012 than we did in 2011, which just brings a Christmassy warmth to my little heart. And, you know, makes me wish we could all group hug and stuff.

Enjoy your Christmas season, lovely people. With much love.

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