A Time For Speeches

“I remember the day you were born.  It wasn’t pleasant, but everyone knows all about pregnancy and birth being the miracle of life.  And though I hate to admit it; it really is true, it really is a miracle.

You were such a pain in the bum.  My tummy was swollen like a big, round balloon and all because inside it there was this teeny tiny little thing.  They showed me the sonogram after covering me with cold gel.  I must confess, before then I’d never really wanted another child.  Its so difficult running around after a small one and the financial costs are always weighing on your mind.  But I didn’t have a choice by that time.

When I saw that fuzzy, grey jelly bean I couldn’t have been happier.  After that I was dreading the day my belly would shrink and I’d have to give you up to the big, bad world.  But even on that oh so painful day I was happy to see you, and I still love you even now.”

*****

“As a toddler you were a right tearaway.  You were always off, hiding and crawling, investigating every little corner.  You got into the cupboard where we hid the sweets once and munched your way right through the lot.  You were so sick when we found you.  I don’t think you ever realised that too much can be a bad thing.  You were always a monster for over eating chocolates.

It reminds me of the time your Nan came to visit.  We were all talking and no one had kept their eye on you.  You’d left your room and pottered after us adults in the living room.  Who knows, you were probably feeling left out and wanted to join the adult conversation.

You’d crawled under my legs and found my beer.  You drank the whole glass, although only half a pint was left.  I’ve never been so proud of you.”

*****

“When we were kids we were always fighting.  You being the younger would always scream for mum and she’d tell me off and soon have you set to rights.  I always resented that.  Why does this little fool always get more attention than me.  Well you know how kids can be and after getting told off by mum for the hundredth time I hatched a plan.  An ingenious plan.  I tried to cover your mouth with my pillow so that you couldn’t scream for help.

At first it was working, but being a kid I couldn’t hold the pillow tight enough and you were still able to keep screaming, louder and louder.  Eventually mum was able to hear your muffled screams, and as annoyed as I was then I’m now glad she was always defending you.

I’m glad you got the chance to grow up because once we got past our childish fighting you became the best sibling I could ever ask for.  We’re like best pals and we’ve always been there for each other.  Like that time I spent all of my birthday money on a present for my girlfriend who mum and dad never liked.  You helped me hide it from them and even gave some cash so that they didn’t suspect anything when I couldn’t afford other stuff.  It is great being related to you.”

*****

“You wanted to make me a romantic meal like those you’d seen on the television.  I guess it’s because your mum was always fond of the old romance films and she told me you’d always snuggle up beside her to watch them.              Anyway, this meal, and remember we were only eight or so.  You were going to make spaghetti bolognaise and you wouldn’t let your mum help you, in the end we had cheese on toast because at that age it was the only thing you could make.  Ironically even now you’ve never learnt to make anything more difficult than beans on toast.  When it was finished, and slightly burnt.  We ate it in your garden and pretended to watch the moon like in the movies.

The best part was the wine.  Of course at eight years old we weren’t ready to start drinking.  You’d begged and begged your mother to let us have some for the meal.  In the end she’d given and said you could have some.  I never told you this before, but of course it turned out she’d only given us cranberry juice.  I didn’t find out till much later but you’ve always thought that it was the best wine you’d ever tasted!”

*****

“We went camping once.  This is something your parents never knew so I probably shouldn’t be mentioning it in front of them, but it’s a good story.  We told them it was a school trip and even made up these fake consent forms.  We had a hell of a time trying to get away without our parents coming to the school to see us off.

Five of us went, I had the tent and you scrounged up the booze.  I think you nicked it from your dad’s stash.  It was the first time any of us had seriously drunk alcohol.  It didn’t take long before we were all drunk off our heads!

We’d trekked through the forest for a good hour before we found a nice spot, by a stream.  Then the next morning we found out we’d walked in circles and were only about ten minutes from the footpath we’d taken to get there.

You burnt your arm on the campfire.  I know you told your parents that you’d only caught it on a boiling kettle.  We were all trying to be drunken lads singing in a pub.  We stood arm in arm shouting at the top of our lungs.  One end of the line fell down and brought the rest of us with it, unfortunately you were nearest the fire.  You were always the least careful but the most adventurous one.

We had a full barbeque going, burgers, bacon and egg: the lot.  We even had a full bucket of marshmallows to finish.  Of course none of us got to eat any of it.  We were too busy being sick.  I don’t think any of us ever fully recovered from that monster of a hangover.  You always say it’s because of that time whenever you’re feeling rough.  But all the same…Here’s to you.”

*****

“I don’t suppose you’ll ever be able to forget your last birthday.  The day you turned eighteen.  It’s probably the happiest and saddest day of your life.  Your parents had organised all of your friends to chip in and buy you a snazzy, new car.  Now I don’t know anything about cars but everyone insisted it was far better than the usual second-hand rubbish that first time drivers get.  As far as I’m concerned it was this cool and sleek, red thing.

We were all there in the morning to surprise you, it wasn’t hard as you never get up before eleven in the morning anyway.  You came down the stairs, tragically dressed in old pyjamas and your hair a complete mess.  It took you a good hour before you’d woken up fully and eventually realised it was your birthday.

Anyway, after you’d done the whole family time bit with your parents, we’d gone off adventuring for the day.  We went to a castle and the beach.  Then we all went paintballing.  You got shot a too many times and were bruised all over.

Anyway, we headed back for your parent’s scheduled party, you driving all the way a bit too overly happy about your brand new car.  We had a drink or two, your parents keeping a close eye on you and eventually we left the ‘family’ party and walked up the street to a mates house for the real party.

We all got a bit tipsy and soon someone, I don’t know who, said we should go to that forest you’d been camping in and getting drunk for your first time.  We snuck back to your house, your parents had gone to bed by that time, and took the keys to the car.  You drove us, shakily, to the forest and we all hiked in until we found the stream by which you’d camped.

There we all got truly bladdered, partying well into the early hours.  It was the most drunken night I’ve ever witnessed and I don’t think even half of us remember anything after that point.

But for some reason we were headed back to the car.  We were going to go to the beach again or some such.  Or it might have been some crazy idea like going to the moon, you can’t tell what thoughts you’ll have at that point.  You might even have been thinking that your car was a time machine and so tried to travel to the far future.”

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