Continuing Wednesday’s theme of my sisters’ birthdays, I now turn to the elder of my two little sisters, Karen.
Karen arrived when I was only two years old. Initially, I was underwhelmed. With precocious prescience, she arrived with a gift for me. It was a record player, made by – and I’m guessing here – a child-friendly company such as Fisher-Price.
Needless to say, I was delighted. Right up to the bit where I tried to use it and it didn’t work. Then I cried. A lot.
Karen fortunately recovered from this own goal and was soon brave enough to come home from hospital. So far as I can remember, she didn’t have a name at this point. Somehow, I remember all of us being in Mum and Dad’s bedroom whilst they discussed what to call her, and there being some debate because Dad was still set on the name ‘Corinne’ (which would have been my name, had I had the misfortune to be a girl) and Mum had gone off it. Which seems to fit with the name Karen, but I accept that I might have worked backwards to this.
I did warm to my new baby sister eventually, and took to introducing her to people as ‘Karen Judith O’Baby’. Like every sibling relationship, we had our ups and downs and, at times, there were more downs than ups. On the whole, though, it was a fairly evenly balanced partnership – I had the advantage of being older and stronger, she countered that by being much more intelligent and quick witted than me. I’m sure she got me into trouble far more often than I can remember.
I have, of course, a legion of tales about my biggest little sister. Which I shall, at some point, tell. The one that always makes me smile, though, is from shortly before her fifteenth birthday, when the teachers at our school went on strike. We both had important exams that year, but at the same time I was all in favour of a teachers’ strike and a few days off school. Karen, on the other hand, was livid, blaming them for selfishly endangering her future. We had an almighty row about it, in her bedroom, one afternoon when everyone else was out. It went on for so long – and by the end I was deliberately winding her up – that we didn’t hear everyone else come home. The argument ended with Karen yelling at me to get out of her room – which I did, to be greeted with considerable bemused amusement from our parents!