AIDA AUSTIN: Sometimes I wish I was an only child

This week Aida Austin divulges the inner workings of her sibling relationships and tells us why sometimes she just wishes she could be an only child.

11am

My sister calls me from Sligo.

“Someone’s just told me there’s a picture of you in today’s Examiner,” she says, “you’re standing on the arm of a sofa, apparently. Why are you standing on the arm of a sofa in the Examiner?”

“I’m not standing on a sofa,” I say, “I’m standing on a ladder.”

“Why are you standing on a ladder?” she says.

“It’s where they put me,” I say.

“Where who put you?”

“The photographers.”

“What photographers?” she says.

“The photographers from the shoot I went to in Dublin,” I say, “to do with promoting writers for the Examiner.”

“That photo you said is going on billboards in January?” she says, “oh this is too good to be true. Send me the link and I’ll give you my honest opinion.”

“No,” I say, “it’s my intention today to keep opinions to an absolute minimum.”

“Too late,” she says, “I’ve found the link.”

“Sometimes…” I say, “I wish…”

“Hang on,” she says, “wait a sec, I’m just Whatsapping the link to everyone. Yes, message sent, sorry, you wish what?”

“Sometimes,” I say, “I wish I was an only child.”

Noon

Sibling opinions begin to drift in gently, like snow.

“Nice power dress,” my Geneva brother says.

“And there I was,” I think, “thinking it was like Mrs Doyle’s housecoat. I needn’t have worried at all.”

“And good posture,” he says.

“Looks like you’re levitating,” my Sligo brother says.

“Photo looks like set of period drama,” my Devon sister says.

“Not bad,” my London sister says, “doesn’t look like you at all.”

“Good calves,” Sligo sister says, “not a cankle in sight.”

“It is not so bad having five siblings,” I think, “maybe I’ll take my wish back.”

1pm

Like snow, sibling opinions begin to settle.

“Period drama: Downton Abbey meets Desperate Housewives,” Sligo sister says.

“Shame about the square hair,” Sligo brother says.

“Never mind the square hair,” Geneva brother says, “what about the square jaw?”

“Yes,” Sligo brother says, “you’re right. Jaw is definitely squarer than hair.”

“Yeah,” Geneva brother says, “shame about the lantern jaw. Makes her look like a determined Betty Rubble.”

“Who’s Betty Rubble?” London sister says.

“Flintstones,” Geneva brother says, “Barney Rubble’s wife. Rosie O’Donnell played her in the movie.”

“Definite resemblance to Rosie O’Donnell,” Devon sister says.

“Rosie O’Donnell,” says London sister, “but after a year on Slimfast.”

2pm

There is a severe snowstorm on my phone.

“Is that a megaphone she’s holding in the photo?” Geneva brother says.

“As if she needs one,” Sligo brother says.

“Hey everyone,” London sister says, “just noticed caption. It says, ‘Real Woman’ underneath her.”

“So people don’t think she’s wax,” Sligo sister says.

“Or resin,” Geneva brother says.

“Resin?” Sligo sister says, “they don’t use resin in Madame Tussaud’s, you idiot. Just wax.”

“It says, ‘Ireland’s most interesting writers’, at the bottom of the photo,” Devon sister says.

“Ireland’s most interesting writers, in Ireland’s most awkward photo shoot,” says Sligo sister, “and all because of Waxy at the back.”

3pm

The snow is coming from all directions now.

“Why are there only two men?” brother-in-law asks.

“Waxy scared them off,” says Sligo sister.

“Everyone looks really serious,” Sligo niece says.

“That’s because we were following instructions from the photographer,” I say, “we were specifically told to look proud.”

“She was aiming for proud,” Geneva brother says “but arrived at ‘uncomfortable’.”

The only way to keep sibling opinion to a minimum, I decide, is to switch off my phone. This snowstorm, I forecast, will blow itself out.

6pm

I check my phone. There’s been a blizzard.

“Not so much, ‘uncomfortable’,” Geneva brother says, “as guilty.”

“More nervous,” Sligo sister says, “if you ask me.”

“Guilty and nervous,” Geneva brother says.

“Exactly,” Sligo sister says, “it’s an odd expression alright.”

Snow has been drifting in all day. It won’t be long, now, I sense, before I am crushed by its weight.

7pm

Not long at all. Just as I predicted.

“Got it,” Geneva brother says.

“Got what?” Devon sister says.

“Her expression,” Sligo sister says, “keep up.”

“She looks exactly like she’s done a sneaky fart and is nervous that someone might pin it on her,” Geneva brother says.

“A quiet but deadly one,” Sligo brother says, “always the worst.”

“Roll on January,” Sligo sister says.

“Why, what’s happening in January?” Devon sister says.

“Photo’s going on a billboard,” Sligo sister says, “I told you to keep up.”

“Sneaky fart-face on a billboard,” Geneva brother says, “I’m definitely coming to Ireland to see that.”


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