I grew up an only child, until at six and a half, I became the proudest big sister in the world. I was used to having my parents’ full attention and only having stuffed toys to play with. I was a very mature child as I spent all of my time, until starting school, in the company of adults. Likewise, I was very independent, happy to entertain myself by making up dance routines, reading and writing stories.
When my mum told me I was going to have a baby brother or sister, I was over the moon. I remember lying on my mum’s tummy, getting kicked by the baby and laughing. The summer of 1990 was one of the hottest on record. Every morning, I took my mum a glass of water as she struggled in the heat. She never let it stop her though, we went to town on the bus, I played in the paddling pool and she took me to swimming lessons, all without a car.
If the baby had been a girl, I was allowed to pick the name – I chose Louise. Gavin was always going to be the name for a boy.
On the date the baby was due, I ran home after getting off the school bus at lunchtime, bursting through the front door shouting “Is the baby here?!” My mum, who looked about ready to pop, was standing calmly at the hob cooking my lunch. It was three days later that my dad woke me up in what appeared to be the middle of the night (6am) and told me I was going to stay with the next-door neighbours while they went to the hospital. I was super excited.
Later in the day, I was taken to my Nana’s house and then my uncle dropped me off at a friend’s roller disco party. Did I want to roller skate? Did I heck! I wanted to see my new sibling and my mum and dad. I went back to my Nana’s, had dinner and my dad rang to say my mum had been put on a drip. I remember bursting into tears as I thought that meant she was going to die. I was only six, remember. I watched ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ with my Nana and, at nine twenty pm, my dad rang to tell me I had a baby brother. I sat on my Nana’s knee and cried with pride.
The next day, my dad and I bought a little blue teddy bear and I was introduced to my brother. He had a shock of black, spiky hair and he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Tactfully, I asked my mum if she “still had another one in there” as we left. I went to school on the Monday morning but was allowed to go home at lunchtime to bring my mum and the baby home from hospital.
From then on, I wanted to hold my brother. I think initially I was disappointed that all he did was eat, sleep and cry but I liked to help feed him, bathe him and so on. On a Saturday morning, I would prop him up against a cushion on the sofa and make him watch the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ cartoon and yell to my mum “Look Mam, he likes it” despite the fact all he could probably see at that time was the colours.
As my brother got older, he became far more rambunctious than I had ever been. He climbed everywhere. He was irrepressible and remains so to this day. He was obsessed with Fireman Sam, asking my dad every weekend to take him to the local fire station to see the engines. He loved tractors, buses and the Lion King.
Gavin and I are so different in many ways, he’s gregarious and an all-rounder. At school, lessons came so easily to him – no matter what the subject. He’s so popular and I have never met someone who didn’t like him and rightly so. My brother has grown into a man to be proud of.
Gavin is a guy who loves being with people, he loves partying and is a total hedonist but he is also a thoughtful, caring soul. He still gives us hugs and spends time with the family.
When he was young, I was the protective Mother Hen but now it works both ways. I know so many siblings who, for many reasons, don’t get along and I am so happy that our relationship has always been good. We do have spats – who doesn’t? – but I know that I could not ask for a better brother.