My biggest little sister, Karen, has only ever broken one bone in her body. In our family, where comedy accidents are the norm, this is something of an achievement. However, nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems where we are concerned.
With four children, there was always an argument going on (my littlest little sister, Lisa, once said that all she could remember about me from her childhood was that I was always shouting at someone). It was during the course of one such argument – at a guess, I was about 10 and she about 7 – that Karen broke her toe.
What happened is not disputed. Karen tried to kick me, missed and kicked an armchair. A few hours later she started to complain that her toe hurt. After a couple of days of such whinging, and after the toe itself began to turn purple, my parents decided that they should take her to hospital. Where it was found that her toe was broken.
On the other hand, the exact mechanism of this injury is still, to this day, open to debate. My view is, as stated above, that she tried to kick me and, being a girl, missed. Karen’s version (which my parents seem to have accepted) is that she tried to kick me and, rather unchivalrously, I moved out of the way, thus causing her to kick the armchair. Because that way they can add an extra twist of humour by accusing me of harming my sister by not allowing myself to be kicked in the shins.
It is one of those things which has gone down in family lore, not for the events but because the minutiae of what happened are so in dispute. And it wasn’t even a major row, either. In years to come, Karen and I would have arguments which registered on the Richter scale. It was, however, the argument that everyone now knows about.