23 Feb 2023

I am not a royalist. I find the whole idea of the monarchy bizarre. That said, the Queen was a class act. She, along with a couple of others, recognised that she owed the nation something in return for her position of privilege.

You can understand then that I was filled with contempt when Harry published his misery memoir "Spare". I don't give a toss about the lack of discretion, I don't feel the royals have any more rights to their privacy than say a rock star has.

What got my goat was the complaining, seeing himself as a victim. Just when I thought he could not possibly be any more pathetic, I read his account of a confrontation with his big brother, which ended in a bit of shoving. This strapping young man is full of outrage that he fell over and broke his necklace. I once worked with a tough Glaswegian woman, whose response to anyone moaning was "Get away with you, you big wet Jessie".  Quite.

There is often tension in relationships between siblings, and it can flare up at any age. I recently bumped into a friend in his 50's who was shaking with rage. He had just been to visit his elderly mother, and his brother turned up. From what I gathered the theme of the ensuing argument was "I do much more for Mum than you do, yet you are still the golden boy". It ended in them squaring up for a fight, with a nephew pulling them apart.

Bands that include siblings are notorious for fights, on stage and off. The Kinks and the Gallagher brothers spring to mind.

Some spats are funny when viewed with hindsight. I had a half brother ten years older than me, and I had to learn early on to stand up for myself. He could be very kind to me, but he enjoyed tormenting me too. Being chased around the garden with our neighbour's glass eye, which he got her to pop out in front of me, having worms pushed down my top, jumping out of the wardrobe to make me scream, all par for the course for a baby sister.

He liked to grab a toy or book from me, then I had to jump up like a dog trying to grab it back. One day he did this, and the red mist descended on me. I hopped on the bed, grabbed my Ribena bottle and let him have it. Fifteen stitches. To this day he gets barbers asking if he had a car or sports injury, and he has to explain that it was his 5 year-old sister who attacked him. He is a lovely man, and I now wish we had stayed close, but he moved abroad when I was still in my teens. 

When animosity carries on into adult life, I have noticed that it usually involves same gender siblings. Parents don't always help either. I know two sisters who became much closer in later life when their mother had died. She constantly made unflattering comparisons, making the older sister feel fat, plain, untalented etc. Without her around to make mischief they became great friends and confidantes.

Two brothers I know fought quite badly as children and teenagers. As adults they barely tolerated each other. Last year one lost his partner to cancer, and the same week the other split with his wife. Now in their 50's, they are really close, supporting each other and making up for lost time as uncles.

How did you get on with your siblings, if you had any? Looking back, do the dynamics between you now seem much as they did when you were very young?  

Maybe Harry and William will find the closeness they once had, some time in the future. Before that can happen I think The Spare has a lot of growing up to do!  


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