When I was younger, one of the biggest injustices of my life was that I was never allowed to marry Robbie Williams when my older sister and I played The Take That Game. I don't remember how or when we invented The Take That Game, it was probably a matter of minutes after Take That released their first single and my sister became infatuated with them; in particular Robbie.
My sister is 3 years older than me and has always been someone I've considered copying, tried copying, and then realised we are such utterly different people that I've stopped. Instead, I choose to amuse her with my total lack of rational thinking, and she calms me down and promises me that everything will be OK.
When we were younger there are a few things I remember most about my sister:
1. The only things she would and could learn for any length of time were song lyrics and she would learn absolutely all of them. She probably still knows the entire Bread back catalogue now.
2. She liked to read and be left alone. If she could not read and be left alone, she liked to frown.
3. She wore hats.
The hat I remember most was a black and red floppy crushed velvet affair with a hat pin in it to keep the brim off the family eyebrows. The family eyebrows are a bit of an institution - in our natural state we all look like a clan of neanderthal caterpillars are migrating in close formation across our foreheads. Even the blonde sister. It's a curse. We are now a family of fringes and tweezers. My sister's hat was not the sort of hat anyone over 14 would wear; and even under 14s would not have worn it had it not been the '90s. I still maintain her hat obsession was largely a certain R Williams' fault anyway. If you had a copy of Take that and Party video, you would notice he wears a series of weirder and weirder hats that should never have been given license to exist.
The Take That Game was a game we played at night. It largely consisted of the idea that we were both dating someone from Take That. I don't remember a lot else. My interest in the game waned severely each night after I was told I was not allowed Robbie and would have to make do with someone else. This generally meant I would choose between Mark or Gary; usually Gary. Despite the fact I didn't like Gary and found his lack of dancing distinctly creepy, he was still a better option than Mark who I was convinced was on drugs. When you're 8 and raised in Somerset, drugs are a very serious issue and it's best if your fictional nocturnal boyfriend doesn't do them. It's bad enough that you're coveting your sister's husband from your bunk bed. You don't need to be attending Relate in the small hours too.
Robbie Williams was not my sisters only husband in her pre-teen years. Her first husbnad was a friendly fellow named Pete. He was her loyal companion and husband for a number of years until one fateful day when our babysitter asked her how Pete was...
"He died in a car crash." came the deadpan response from her mouth. My sister was killing off unwanted characters from her life at a very early age. This was a stark warning to everyone around her; especially runty little sisters who were always being encouraged to jump off high things. She once told me if I jumped off the climbing frame holding a carrier bag it would act as a parachute. When this didn't work and I was on the grass in some pain, she told me I had simply held the bag wrong and that it was my fault. It was a sign of my limited intelligence and overblown sense of trust that I tried again. Fool.
The Take That Game was the perfect game for two siblings who shared a room and disliked sleeping. It was a game we reverted to once we had been caught "Sneak Reading". Sneak Reading was something that could only be done once my sister had mastered the sleight of hand required to flick the lamp off very quickly once she heard Dad's clicky knees on the first step. This meant we were often caught if:
a) Mum came up the stairs
b) Anyone went outside the house and saw the light from the window.
Really you'd think that parents would be pleased that their children were so desperate for literature. But I suppose once it gets past 11pm and both your daughters are prone to being tearful stinkers when tired, enough is enough.
But The Take That Game could be played in total darkness. My favourite episodes would be some kind of event we were going to with our respective husbands; this meant being allowed to dress up in finery and get a limousine to the party and then dance the night away; unless I had married Gary that evening in which case I was allowed to get serenaded because he was too fat to dance.
My sister finally got to go and see Take That in concert this weekend - 17 years later than she actually wanted to go, now married with a 2 year old child, but happier than she'd been since the day she was free of Pete. I love my sister.