I used to have an uncle; nothing unusual about that - lots of folk have uncles. I had more than one uncle of course, but it's one in particular I'm going to talk about today. Let's call him Uncle Willie - mainly because that was his name. Although, in the interests of historical accuracy, it behooves me to admit that I'm unsure whether he was an 'actual' uncle or merely an 'honorary' one, in that convenient bracket that older male relatives are placed when it's not known exactly what their title should be. He never struck me as a very nice man to be frank, and he was eventually sectioned under the mental health act for beating up his wife - who, unsurprisingly, happened to be my aunt. They were both quite elderly when all this was going on, which is all rather tragic I suppose.
I remember being through in Edinburgh with my family back in the late '60s, visiting one of my father's sisters (another aunt), and Uncle Willie and his wife were there too. We all left at the same time and I remember Uncle Willie put his hand in his pocket and slipped some coins into the hands of my other aunt's kids. I was surprised to see this act of generosity, because he'd never done that with me or my brother. I liked him even less after that.
Uncle Willie was a bit of a blowhard. Full of tall tales and unlikely stories designed to portray himself in the most flattering light. Anything anyone else had ever done, he'd done first or done better - and sometimes even both. He and his wife were visiting our house one night, and he took the opportunity to regale my brother and myself with tales of how fit he was and how he was able to expand his chest to nigh Olympian proportions.
He could see from our expressions that we remained unconvinced (nor were we much interested, truth be told) so he insisted on demonstrating his 'amazing ability'. At first he stood in a stooped position with his chest as far back towards his spine as possible, then slowly stood up, thrusting his chest out as far as he could and, arching his back while leaning forward, attempted to create the impression that he'd achieved his stated goal. When he was finished, he proudly announced: "Mabel, I've just expanded my chest by 11 and a half inches!" He hadn't of course, all he'd done is made a tit of himself. We were too polite to say so, but we had a good laugh at him after he'd left.
I'm glad I've no nieces and nephews, because at least I know I can never be regarded with derision or disdain in the way that me and my brother discreetly regarded Uncle Willie. So I suppose the moral of this story is that if you want your young relatives to be left with a good impression of you when you're gone, then you should avoid trying to impress them while you're here.