On the eve of your 28th birthday, I just wanted to say how grateful I am for you.
Thank you for letting me boss you around no end as a child; for allowing me to be a complete and utter drama queen whilst you sat there politely letting me style your hair for ‘Hair Raising’ (a fantastic production which I am baffled did not get picked up by the BBC), or tell you what you were ‘supposed to say’ in our family holiday video.
We had the perfect childhood; you annoyed me like crazy, as any sibling does; countless accusations over which one of us hadn’t done the washing up properly, or who broke what, but we have always been a brother and sister that got on well. We enjoyed so many family holidays and days out as our perfect unit of four; long journeys in the back of the car with our Bumper Value Jotters and felt tips or our Walkmans (probably with Top Loader CD on loop). Special memories that I’ll treasure forever.
When, at 15, you joined a Ska Punk band, I wanted to burst with pride. Having never encountered this jolly, trumpet-y style of music before, we were both suddenly immersed into a world of black and white checks, loud drums, dingy venues with sticky floors and pints in plastic glasses. For the first time, we were socialising in the same circle of friends – I came to all your gigs, completely changed my dress sense, bought a million CDs and learnt all the words. I absolutely loved it.
I feel so protective of you Greg, even though a lot of the time it feels like you’re the grown up with your own house and partner, and I’m the child renting a room alone in London. In infant school, I remember writing a letter to one of your classmates who had made a mean comment to you – I couldn’t bear the thought of anybody upsetting you (although goodness knows what this person thought of me when (if?) you gave them the letter!). When you fell and cut your hand on the eve of your 21st birthday (definitely no alcohol involved), Mum, Dad and I rushed to pick you up from uni. You looked so sad over Skype, unable to even open your birthday cards with your damaged hand, we rushed out and bought extra birthday presents to bring for you; just wanted to do something to make you feel better. I check your whereabouts on the Find Friends app every day. Yes, I am a complete stalker, but it gives me the peace of mind that you’re going about your day, getting on with your life.
People say I’m a positive person, but they clearly haven’t met you Greg, because you’re the most positive person I know. You joke that even your blood type supports your mantra: ‘B positive’. You live by the rule of making somebody laugh every day, and I doubt you’ve ever failed, and I doubt it’s ever just one person (even if half the time the quota is filled by Hazel, who adores you so much). You’re one of the most relaxed people I know (which yes, does drive me absolutely crazy sometimes); friendly with everybody you meet, and rarely stressed – unless there’s some sort of DIY disaster, a regular occurrence when you and Dad get together (which never fails to make me smile – no matter how annoying that smashed window or cracked tile is for you). I love how you have inherited Dad’s love of making things; how you two sit and methodically work out a problem together.
You moved back in with Mum and Dad to save for a deposit, but the timing was perfect and I’m so grateful that you were able to be there throughout Mum’s illness; to make her smile, to hold her hand, to play her a new song you thought she’d love, to run up to Sainsburys to find that specific item of food that might not make her nauseous. My heart breaks in two whenever I think of your face on the day Mum died, such an unusual sight to see you so overcome with grief. How we muddled through those first few days I’m not sure, but we stuck together and we managed it.
If there’s ever anything you need to talk about, you can always talk to me. Of course you have Hazel (and I’ve never seen a pair better matched; you have such a wonderful relationship), and you’re normally the one comforting me – your calm, warm voice always makes me feel a little better – but I’ll always be here for you.
Thank you for all the car rides singing our heads off to Mad Caddies or John Mayer or Lethal Bizzle; thank you for all the practical support you give to Dad, for all the laughs that you bring to our family and for your sunny, no frills outlook on the world. Thank you for being all the things a brother should be: caring, practical, frustrating and kind; a friend to everybody, the life and soul of every party. Someone who completely clicks with my sense of humour, who will laugh with me forever at ‘oh, sorry’ or ‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’: stupid little things that nobody else gets, jokes that we share from a lifetime of laughs. Even when I’m mad at you for being late or disorganised or forgetful, it can’t last for long because you’re such fun to be around. Thank you for being my brother Greg; I’m grateful for you every single day.
All my love,