Sunday, 20 May 2007

My Sister

I love my sister, Beatrice Matilda St John-Sykes, very much. In the Lottery of Life she is very definitely the bonus ball: bouncy, vibrant and her arrival is always eagerly anticipated.She makes me laugh – not always intentionally – and we share a love for lemon poppy seed muffins, Starbucks coffee and Ray Winstone. She rang me on Friday and we had a jolly chat (before I was summoned to the door by Janey, but that’s a whole other post). I told her all about my impending riding lesson and she asked me if I remember her horse riding career of about ten years ago. I do, vividly. For three years she went riding every weekend and got very good at it. “Do you remember that I could jump very well? So could the horse!” She laughs like a bubbling brook and it’s very infectious.

She’s a Very Important Person in her office but I’m not entirely sure what she does. I know she has an expense account, a big desk and a PA. She is of course married to the wonderful Stephen and has two adorable children, Ian and Caitlin,and an Exotic Au-Pair. She shops in the very best shops, dines in the very best restaurants and thinks nothing of popping into Harrods for a “wander”. We’re as different as two people can be, but yet so alike. She’s Titian of hair, porcelain of complexion and slim of build. She also has very exciting shoes. I’m mousey haired (with occasional blonde bits thanks to Amanda at Shear Class), rosy of complexion and not so slim of build. The only exciting pair of shoes I own are posted as my profile pic.

When I first met David he said I looked like “Kate Winslet when she was in Titanic”. God love him. But to this day I’m not sure if he meant “sweet and innocent but with spirit” or “irritating, whingy and in need of drowning”. When I recounted this to Bea she didn’t hoot with laughter as my then best friend did. Not only did my (now ex) best friend hoot with laughter, she asked me what David fed his guide dog on. Are you there Alison Pritchard? Bea merely grasped my hand, her eyes filling with tears and said “But sweetie, that’s wonderful, you must snap him up immediately and point him in the direction of Boodles

She was right. I snapped him up (not with the same velocity as she herself snapped Stephen up – the poor man had whiplash for a month) and pointed him in the direction of Boodles. Bless him, he got lost and ended up at Ernest Jones but the end result was the same. A rock on my finger (Bea was satisfied that he’d spent the expected amount on it) and a wedding to be planned. Bea was at my side from day one, steering me away from a dress that simply didn’t flatter me “darling, you’re not pregnant are you?” to shoes that didn’t make me look like “I needed an urgent appointment with a chiropodist”. On the day itself, despite the fact we were outside a Registry Office in the height of winter she was dressed not entirely warmly in a floating rose pink chiffon outfit and the most gorgeous Philip Treacy confection on her head. She looked beautiful and was not at all fazed when an elderly aunt congratulated on her on her wedding day. “Not me Aunt Rozzy, my sweet dear sister is getting married today” she said, primping and preening me and instructing the photographer to hurry up.

During my pregnancy she was on hand with sage advice “eat ginger biscuits for sickness darling and, if it becomes too unbearable, have a look through the Boden catalogue to take your mind off it” and was the first person (aside from David) to see baby Mackenzie. I had been in labour for 17 hours, had had 12 stitches and was sporting a split lip because I’d shoved the gas and air nozzle in my mouth so quickly I’d mis-aimed the move. She arrived at my bedside with half a florist shop of flowers, a bottle of champagne, a teddy for the new arrival and a Starbucks wet latte with a shot. Which she then drank (hospital coffee is disgusting and I was gagging for a decent cup) because she’d “had a quite dreadful morning darling, my PA is off sick and I broke a nail."

David isn’t quite sure, even now, how to take her. At worse, she sounds -and behaves - like a terrible snob. At best, she’s so witty and pithy but always in a nice way. I’ve never heard her say anything bad about anyone and she gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. Before we both had husbands and babies, we were travelling home on the train after a night out on champagne cocktails and a gentleman opposite us was rather enthusiastically jiggling his hand in his pocket. By the time we got up to get off at our stop, it became apparent that either the zip on his trousers was broken or he chose to wander around public transport at night with his bits hanging out. I was horrified, disgusted and then hysterical as I recounted the tale to Bea’s rather cool and elegant flat-mate. Elegant Flat-Mate rolled her eyes and changed channels on the television to something intelligent. Bea was adamant that “the poor man probably didn’t know, perhaps we should have told him”.

We sometimes fall out, as sisters do and that is not nice at all. She’s more open than me, I prefer to dwell and stew whereas Bea gets it all out in the open, says her piece and then all is back to normal and I’m forced to stop dwelling and stewing because we’re off once again on our usual merry-go-round of fun and frivolity. She has the most wicked sense of humour and always cheers me up. She emails me from her office to tell me all about the “gorgeous biscuits” she’s nibbling or the “wonderful lunch she’s had, four courses darling!” or to let me know that she’s seen “the most wonderful thing on the internet for sweet Mackenzie” and that she’s ordered it, paid for it and it will be delivered forthwith.
Sisterly advice ranges from “always pay extra for postage and packing when buying on-line darling, it comes in a van the next day not with a sweaty postman when he feels like it” to “never drive a brand new BMW in heels, you can’t get reverse” to “don’t allow David to watch Channel 5, you’ll never get a moment’s rest in the boudoir”.

Such a wise and thoughtful lady, my sister!


Omega Mum said...

I now have sister jealousy. Did you get Bea at Boodles - she certainly doesn't sound as if she was produced in the normal biological way? Do you lend her out? And have you told her about Uncle Frank yet?

debio said...

Oh this is soooo good. This could be my sister and I - so very different and yet so much the same.
It is her sense of humour I miss - not good in company as it is exclusive; just a look at one another and we are wetting ourselves laughing....she is the only person who can make me laugh at myself - and I mean it.
Had I forgotten how I miss her so? I think you have just reminded me.

Gwen said...

Being an only child I have always had sister jealousy. When I was young I didn't have an imaginary friend. I had an imaginary sister. Your sister sounds lovely. I wish I had one like her. Mind you I have one particular friend who shares her bubbly outgoing optimistic traits and she is an only child too so that's pretty good.

Gwen said...

PS I do love your shoes. Where did you get them?

Nunhead Mum of One said...

OM - she's certinly unique and she's horrified about Uncle Frank and has told me to "watch myself". Wise words indeed.

Debio - many is the time I've been hysterical with laughter and it's all Bea's fault!

Gwen - what is it they say? Friends are the family we choose for ourselves? My shoes (heaven to look at, agony to walk in!) can be found at

hope the link works!

mutterings and meanderings said...

She sounds a hoot!

how are your inner thighs today, btw?

Nunhead Mum of One said...

M&M: Yes! I'd forgotten how many muscles are required to sit on the back of a horse! They were killing me on Sunday (walked like John Wayne)but slightly better yesterday. Have now got a dull ache which is more evident in my right thigh! My bottom feels bruised though......

It's not as simple as using the reins to turn is it? You need to move the whole of your body. Amazing!

Still, looking forward to Saturday very much!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Good for you girl. You must keep it up!

Kelly said...

That's definitely the kind of sister that should be standard issue. Having only brothers (28, 24 and 7 months!)it makes me sick with envy.

I do adore your writing NMOO.


Nunhead Mum of One said...

M&M - I will!!

Kelly - thank you, ditto!

dulwichmum said...

I don't desserve you darling, do I?

You really are the best sister a girl could wish for.


Nunhead Mum of One said...

Aw! xxx

Anonymous said...

I have only just discovered this fabulous blog and it's Nunhead based! You must write an column for the Nunhead Voice as I saw they were advertising for articles. Us Nunhead people need to realise we have a gem in the area.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

anonymous....a gem? Moi? Bless you, Nunhead Voice here I come. I'm about to put my email address on my blog so please do get in touch - but be no longer anonymous!

GlassesShop said...

Good for you girl.

All about me

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.