Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Competitive Nature of Everything

On Friday afternoons when I came home from school my mum would always insist that I did my homework as soon as I got in the door, that way I’d have the rest of the weekend to myself. She had a point. My suggestion of not doing the homework at all would achieve the same thing, however this point of view rarely prevailed. If I had to do it then I suppose it was best to get it done and out of the way. I can only assume that my parents had similar feelings towards childbirth. Have two children, 1 year and 8 months apart, watch them grow up, fly the nest, then relax and enjoy early retirement; who knows maybe one of them will be incredibly successful and fund a lavish early retirement??

Unlikely. It's £523 a week for the care-home in Dingwall - I thought I better phone early in case there’s a waiting list.

There are disadvantages in starting a family early in life - from the perspective of the child that is - you see as the child it could be years before you're able to get your hands on the fruit of your parents labour-a-nice-wee-inheritance-package. And with this generation the first expected to die earlier than their parents, it might never happen :-(

If my mother could have foreseen the untold misery my brother and I would cause her, with our constant fighting and demand for attention, she surely would have thought twice about a second child. She took a risk my mother; she gambled for a girl. She had conceived a devil child and witnessed through my brother how much of a f**king nightmare boys could be. She wanted a wee girl, and I know this because for the past 23 years she’s never forgiven me for being a boy (even if I am as camp as a tent).

The truth is - like Prince Harry - I am adopted. The woman I though of, and many of you know as, my mother, is not my biological mother. I don’t know my real mum’s name, she is known to me simply as, ‘the woman in the caravan’.

Many years ago my ‘mother’ was taking a leisurely stroll through a caravan park when she - still had the use of her legs - stumbled upon me as an infant sleeping underneath a caravan. I was made to sleep with the dogs because there was no room inside on account of my 12 brothers and sisters. My real mum hated me, and my real dad had just been laid off from his job as a janitor, so my mum, pained by compassion, offered to buy me and free me from my terrible existance.

This gypsy nativity story that has been told to me since the age of, well since I can remember.........

I believed in Santa, and that robins were his messengers, that Santa could get into our house despite the fact we lived in a bungalow and didn't have a chimney, that he could carry all those presents in a sleigh with flying reindeer - even the year when our main present was a pool table - I believed everything about Santa - I believed in the tooth fairy, I was convinced WWF wrestling was real, I believed my brother when he told me the Loch Ness monster ate the Easter Bunny, and my dad every April Fool’s day when he said Eoin Jess signed for Rangers, so why wouldn't I believe my mum when she threatened to send me to a horrible woman and an unemployed janitor who lived in a caravan park.....??

It’s not easy tracking down your biological parents when they are travelling folk. Like native Americans following the buffalo herds; my family has tended to migrate with the janitor work.

*A little side-note is needed here, for liable purposes. It is not the intention of this blog entry to offend anyone in the travelling community. Many of my brother’s girlfriends were gypsies.*

With my (step) brother and I being so close in age there was always a lot of fighting, arguing and competitiveness. So much so we would compile and update lists of activities that we could beat, or were better than, the other person at. It was important these lists were agreed on and evenly balanced. A sub-list would then be compiled of activities where we considered each other to be of equal ability; it was in these activities we would compete to decide who was the best.

The following is a list of activities where I am better/can beat my brother at:

  • Taekwondo (a Korean martial art/excuse for my brother and I to beat the shit out of each other)
  • Sprinting
  • Jumping
  • Spelling
  • Cooking
  • Tennis
  • Long Distance Running

The following is a list of activities my brother is better/can beat me at:

  • Football
  • Badminton
  • Bench-Press
  • Throwing
  • Maths
  • Darts
  • Parking

The following is a sub-list of activities we consider ourselves to be evenly matched:
  • Golf
  • Pool/Snooker
  • Swimming

These lists often threw up points of contention, for example, anyone who has witnessed my brother playing football would question how it is possible for anyone to play as badly. This unfortunately is a sad reflection of my own footballing prowess - I'm not very good.

Competitiveness tended to reach a head during Wimbledon when my brother and I would dust off our rackets - purchased by mum from a car boot sale and used through the rest of the year to pelt stones with – head onto the street and have a game of tennis. Matches rarely lasted more than a minute......

With the benefit of hindsight it was probably inevitable that playing tennis on the street with no net and using drains as court markings was always going to cause controversy. However in truth it didn’t matter what activity we were playing, the outcome was usually the same.........

My brother and I are most likely a good example of why there is something wrong with a little competition. However at this stage of your lives I am sure most of you have realised life is just one-big-competition.  I’m just not sure who’s list it’s on.

PS. Eoin Jess was an Aberdeen player who played for the club back when they were still decent - he then had a second spell when they were shite - he was worshiped by the Downie children. His signing for Rangers would have meant a level of unpopularity on a Nick Clegg level.

PPS. My mother - despite my best attempts - still has the use of her legs (except when she's pished)

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