People ask me all the time ‘Why brunettekoala?’ Well the picture above semi-explains that. Long ago, when I was 21, my hair was dyed brunette and my 14 year old sister was a very tall long limbed teen. She started handing me up her clothes from around the age of 13. We called her the Giraffe. Our little brother was the mischief maker, and we called him Monkey. They decided that as I was small, and liked to sleep (they were kids who liked to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning while I was a teen who felt that getting out of bed before 9 on a Saturday for no reason was all kinds of wrong). I also was the hugger of the three of us. So they decided I would be koala. They even programmed the housephone so that if I called from my flat in Aberdeen or my mobile it came up as ‘Koala’.
Today, that cute (but slightly stinky) almost 11 year old is the same age as I am in that picture. My little brother stole my heart just as our sister did. I was 11 years old when he was born, and there are many pictures of me holding him as a baby. He was a terrible sleeper and often I would be the one to get him out of his cot in the mornings. I would feed him his breakfast – turning spoons of disgusting baby food into planes, trains and race cars. I took him for walks through the woods at the back of our house and he would only sleep if I did the woods first and then back around the neighbourhood – he would not sleep if I did neighbourhood before the woods. He became obsessed with trucks when he was a toddler – we had to wait every Monday for the bin lorry to come so he could watch it reverse in front of our house before we could go anywhere. He learned about the christening of Eddie Stobart lorries, and soon had everyone keeping an eye out for their names so we could cross them off his checklist. He was a bigger chatterbox than my sister and I (which my friends didn’t believe until one time they spent a car journey with him…and left the car shellshocked). He went to A&E so many times that the nurses there knew him by name. Why believe us when we tell you the toaster is hot, when you can stick your hand in it and turn it on to find out?
Monkey, you taught me how to rock a baby to sleep. You made me learn how to build toy garages because well…Dad tried, and he superglued himself to it. And then fix toy cars. And trucks. Often early on Sunday mornings. I know all the characters in the Teletubbies and their favourite things because of you. You taught me how to turn a buggy into a racing car, complete with race car noises which made you giggle and laugh when we went out and about. You were my buddy for watching Top Gear with. I still remember you calling me in Aberdeen upset when Richard Hammond got injured in the jet car crash. You and our sister encouraged my love of Winnie the Pooh, and I still remember how the two of you were so miffed with our parents when they refused to let you club together to get me a giant stuffed Pooh Bear from the Disney store for my 16th birthday. You always gave me a hug when I asked for one. Even if you grumbled and sighed. And when I returned to Aberdeen for my final year of university, you put all your Winnie the Pooh toys in my bed with mine ‘so they wouldn’t get lonely’. And then you called me up to tell me that they missed me even if you didn’t so I needed to come home to visit. When kids teased you, you still remained kind. When you didn’t understand why people didn’t see the world wasn’t as black and white as you saw it, you still stood up for what you believed was right. You were afraid sometimes, but you still tried. And you always had a reason for everything. Why are you crying about being at nursery? Because someone needed to hold your Mum’s shopping list at Tesco. Why aren’t you going to sleep? Because Mum & Dad aren’t home yet, and you needed to know they got home safely. Why are you calling your 21 year old sister at 5.30 p.m.? Because she’s usually home for tea, and you better check up to make sure she’s ok. And then tell her off for not calling.
Of my four siblings, I’ve seen you go through the most challenges. I’m insanely proud of you Monkey. And I’m glad I get to be your big (even if I’m the shortest) sister.
Happy birthday xx