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The thing is, The Mom is an only child. So growing up sans siblings she’s sometimes a bit amazed at the way in which we interact, even with an ocean between us. What she sometimes fails to understand is that when it’s your brother or sister wanting help with something that’s vaguely or totally ridiculous but that Really Matters, you do it. The sibling with the semi-ridiculous request may have to hear about it a bit, but you know you can count on them to deliver the goods, whatever that may be.

I hate shopping. I’m not good at it. But L’il Sis is, and what’s more, she’s good at getting me to try things on and pick out things that look nice as opposed to when I go shopping with The Mom, which though fun, is often significantly less productive, in that, I don’t try anything on and buy ridiculous things that make me look crazier than I am. There was an all green cape and trousers outfit I recall very nearly buying, The Mom eagerly egging me on. But L’il Sis is good at knowing what is in my best interest and not hearing about anything else. She can focus in a shop, whereas I get a bit sweaty and panicky.

Crazy D is brilliant at responding to completely random, technical questions, via text message. You can text him and ask how many mics you need for a 300-person room with a six-string orchestra and he’ll just give you an answer. From deep in whatever jungle or metropolis he happens to be in just then. He doesn’t ask why.

That could be the best part about having siblings. They don’t often ask why you want to know a weird thing that you probably shouldn’t be asking about, they just fill in the blanks of your knowledge.

So if anybody starts taking new medication, they always come to see Dr. Gill beforehand. I can rhyme off side effects, suggest generic drugs and on and on. Not because I have a medical degree, you understand, I just take an interest. And a lot of pills. But there you are.

And I’m always happy to write whatever it is that needs written for anyone in my family, though The Mom’s usually on her own. I can do CVs, covering letters, online dating forms, visa forms, follow up letters, and whatever else. And though The Mom may believe they sound slightly over aggrandised in the end, what she doesn’t know is that what I write on those CVs and covering letters is actually true. People forget. I remember the conversations I have with the both of them wherein they tell me how there was a crazy problem and they fixed it, MacGyver style. I can make a direct line from A to L briefly stopping off at E because, well, I’ve seen both of them do it.

A lot of my friends have brothers and sisters with whom they have similar relationships. It’s like having a built-in emergency kit, you just need to figure out what emergencies people are going to be able to reasonably solve. Then you’re golden. Which is good, particularly for us, because what with half jobs and student loans, well there’s not a lot left over to pay for those little extras. And besides which, I don’t think you can really pay for someone to help you move a body, if needs be.

The Mom has always looked upon these strange relationships we have with a sense of awe and wonder. One minute we can be bickering and arguing away, and you’d be forgiven for thinking World War Three is about to break out over something fairly inane, and then a favour is asked. There might be a scowl, normally from my direction, and possibly a sigh. And then you get down to work. This sort of behaviour cannot be taught, not really, you just have to hope the siblings realise that this is what they’ve been given, and to make the best and the most of it.

The Mom has, actually, cottoned on to this. And has insinuated herself in the rota of favours. Being without siblings, and seeing as how without her, there wouldn’t be us, we include her in the group as well.

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