Sunday, 30 April 2017


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.


  1. Whereas MY Uncle William ( our Bill ) was/is one of life's gentleman! In my childhood, he used to smoke a pipe too, but sensibly gave up smoking after a heart attack in his forties. Now in his eighties, I still talk to him on the phone fairly regularly. I have often spoken of him in the comments, my mother's kid brother, who used to initially live at my Granny's, following his demob from the army, he loved the Dandy and Beano as a child and used to spoil me with a roll of nearly every single UK comic, wrapped up in a roll of brown paper, tied with string every Saturday! It was he who taught me to read with my Beezer annual and he was like a second Dad to me! As a kid I loved the bloke and I cannot have wished for a better uncle!
    Bill has left an impression on me, which has lasted all my life, not by trying to impress me, just by being the lovely man he was/is!
    Bill, - God Bless You!

    1. And I'm glad I was able to give you the opportunity to tell the world (or whoever reads this blog) about your uncle Bill, JP. Wish I'd had an uncle like that. On a completely different note, just took delivery of the first Dalek book this morning! Finally got one.

    2. Oh, I thought you already had one, otherwise I could have gotten you one last year for 40 quid?
      Hopefully uou didn't have to pay too much for yours!
      I got mine as a kid by swapping a Marx Dalek for it with a kid over the road. I didn't know about it for Christmas, 64, so missed out on it, but during 65, made the deal with the laddo, knowing that I could always get another Marx Dalek at a later date, which I did! I know I have told you this before, but there may be new readers since then?
      Yep, you definitely would have loved an uncle, like our Bill and I am pleased to immortalise his younger life on the internet!

    3. Nah, I'd borrowed a pal's three Dalek books to repair them, and scanned them at the same time. Funnily enough, I missed out on getting one on Wednesday for £6.51 because I inadvertently distracted myself while waiting to bid. I bought my copy yesterday and it arrived this morning - how's that for service? Got it for less than the price you mention, p&p included.


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