Tuesday, 30 March 2010

All in the family

The phone rang last night. It was my sister. I'd been meaning to give her a ring: although we weren't particularly close as kids - it was mostly the normal brother-vs-older-sister thing - over the last few years we have tended to keep in touch with each other more regularly. Our parents both died some years ago, and gradually most of the aunts and uncles have passed away, leaving a shrinking "extended family" which I guess perhaps makes you value what's left more than you used to. We had quite a good long natter, anyway, exchanging reminiscences of when we were both growing up as kids.

Which is odd in a way, because her childhood was quite different to mine. We're not very alike temperamentally to start off with: I take after my mother and inherited a lot of her "call a spade a bloody shovel" approach with a natural tendency to speak my mind and forget any upset ten minutes afterwards. She on the other hand was more like my father with his habit of deep brooding and sulking - you could never really tell what eiher of them was thinking a lot of the time. And whereas I got to move round with my parents wherever my father's postings took us, my sister, being that much older, got packed off to boarding school which she hated. I don't doubt my parents felt they were doing the right thing by us both at the time, and certainly in the initial chaos of post-war Europe, there simply weren't the facilities to cater for servicemens' families abroad anyway.

She remembers a lot more of Hong Kong than I do: she flew out to join us for our final year having finished her O levels, whereas I was then still only nine and while I have assorted mental visualizations which are reinforced quite easily by seeing old photos, my memories of events and of our life out there are really very hazy and I suspect not very accurate. She's embarked on writing an account of it, which I'm very much looking forward to reading if only to see how much more of my time out there will come flooding back to me.

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