I will always have fond memories of my Dad’s younger brother, my Uncle Bob. There are many reasons for this. That he shares the pain of being a fellow Aston Villa fan is one such reason. Another is that, like me, he has to deal with the bureaucratic problems that having a first name that you never use can produce.And there was the fact that he always declined to be called ‘Uncle’ because it made him feel old (he changed his mind about 15 years ago, presumably because he now felt old)*.
The biggest reason, though, is that he has always been fun to be around, particularly when we were kids. For one thing, he could do silly little magic tricks, such as producing a coin from behind your ear. He also had an enormous bushy beard and even bigger hair – so big that he could never wear the paper hats that came out of the Christmas crackers.
One day he showed up on my parents’ doorstep looking even hairier than usual and wearing a pair of sandals. I didn’t recognise him. After he had been ushered into the living room, I apparently turned to my Mum and asked “Mummy, is that Jesus?”
Which is even funnier when you remember that my Dad’s family are all confirmed agnostics, if not outright atheists.
I was reminded of this particular incident (although, to be completely honest, I remember more of Bob’s visits generally than I do of this one event) by the following story in Peter King’s ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column for Sports Illustrated:
— Annabelle Hasselbeck, last spring (but worth repeating this week in light of Seattle’s playoff berth), when new Seahawk quarterback Charlie Whitehurst — who had a thick beard and long brown hair, making him look like the pictures of Jesus Christ — came to dinner at the Hasselbeck house and the family began dinner without saying the traditional grace.
Seems I am not the only one!
*I don’t like being called ‘Uncle’ either. It must run in the family.