Today is the birthday of my youngest sister Ashleigh. The youngest but, unfortunately, also the funniest and the most vicious. Various theories as to how she reached this stage have been put forward, with Jenny's being that I taught her everything I knew and then she surpassed me in the venom stakes. The pupil becomes the master... the circle of life.
Once, when she had apparently insulted our eldest sister, Mum told her to apologise. "Ashleigh, go on. What do you say?" Ashleigh paused, put down her fork and stared across the table, before speaking: "You're fat, you're ugly and you'll never find love."
She is also excellent banter. In fact, Ash is probably one of the most entertaining people I know. Great friend, even better sister. However, I will have all my teeth ripped out of my head and crushed into powder before my eyes before I ever tell her that.
In tribute to the Caliban, here are sixteen of her best quotes. The trouble with writing it was that there are almost too many that are funny and a lot more which I cannot put on the Internet: -
1. Your Onesy. That is all.
2. The time you ran into the kitchen and leapt onto Dad's back, grabbing him round the neck, screaming "Tell me where the Will is!"
3. Mum woke up in a hotel room to find you standing over her, telling her she was breathing too loudly in her sleep.
4. The time you and I went to the cinema to see Fame and you burst into song at the credits, before realising they weren't playing the full song and you were the only person in the cinema waving your hands in the air, shouting "FAME!"
5. Your plan to choreograph your arrival in the Hamptons to Cry me a River.
6. You are bipolar.
7. Pretending to fall asleep anytime anyone in the family speaks for more than 10 seconds at a time
8. You and I were discussing what partying would have been like in Tudor times and you said you'd have been a pro at, shouting such phrases as "Shake it, my goodly wenches!" and "Holla back, I'm representin' fo' my damsels!"
9. You refuse to let anyone lie on your bed, because they'll ruin the pillows - which are decorative and not for use, apparently.
10. "Bleugh, bleugh."
11. Your perfect rendition of "Whip my hair back and forth."
12. When I enrage you, you try to choke me from the back of the car with my seatbelt.
13. You were ten and I shimmied into your room. "Ashleigh, I made you a 45-page booklet on Anne Boleyn. Fun, right?"
"No, Gareth! Not another one. Don't you realise, I don't care about this stuff and I never will."
Five Years Later...
"Hey, G. A girl in school today said Anne Boleyn had six fingers... So I bit her and put a curse on her.... Do we have any chocolate milk?"
14. Jenny says she's going to discipline her children by telling that mean/old/drunk Uncle Gareth and Aunty Ashleigh will come round if they don't behave. (See above.)
15. We can tell if someone on TV is gay because you will have a crush on him.
16. I insulted fictional 16th century hunchback detective Matthew Shardlake, star of the novels Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation and Heartstone. It was a mild insult, via text and I was in New York. I received a 15-linked WhatsApp reply telling me why "Master Shardlake" was such a wonderful, kind, loving man and that if I ever insulted him again, you'd break off eight of my fingers. The downside in all this? You fancy a fictional medieval hunchback.
Lots and lots of love on your b'day. But I still hate you, obvi. And if you send me down to the shops to get you "a walnut whip, without the walnut" one more time, I'm going to kill you.
Gareth / G-Dawg xxx
PS - Bleugh.