Alice-Azania Jarvis: I'll show you sibling rivalry

Share
Related Topics

It sounded too good to be true: "Gloves off! Miliband rounds on his brother." The announcement, issued from my morning radio, caused rather more excitement – so prolonged was its coming – than was, perhaps, advisable. And, like a sucker, I fell for it.

So did the newspapers. "Attack risks rift," screeched one. "Miliband's jibe at brother's policies." The most trudgingly turgid of leadership contests looked like it might – finally – get interesting. Seven days later, I've yet to discover what the fuss was about. "Look!" say frenzied spat-watchers, "David told Labour to stop being so comfortable." For those of us who don't speak Milibandese (Miliblandese?) this roughly translates – or so I'm told – into a dig. A mega-dig. A mega-dig by David, about Ed. A mega-dig that neither mentioned him, nor any of his proposed policies, but which was, nonetheless, aimed at him. Kind of like calling your brother a moron, but not.

Naturally, there are those who've quipped that the Brothers Milibore are no Ray and Dave, no Noel and Liam, no Bart and Lisa. Pffff.... Bart and Lisa Simpson? They're not even me and my sister. Indeed, this is the most unfraternal of fraternal contests – if, that is, by fraternal you mean truly brotherly, rather that some cuddly Hallmark version of the idea. When I was seven, and my sister a barely talking toddler, she nicknamed me "Door". This wasn't, as my parents initially suspected, a function of her barely nascent vocabulary. It was an early adopted, long held indication of my insignificance. I was seven. I had a lunchbox, a school uniform, and a flowing, mousy ponytail. In short: I had everything a nappy-clad pipsqueak might covet. In return, she christened me Door, in one cunning move making me butt both of Sunday Lunch jokes and prank phone calls. To her, I was nothing but a plank of wood. Something to be exited, to be slammed. Round one, Little Sister. And so the contest began.

Of course, I had my defences. I took great pleasure in keeling over dramatically – preferably when no adults were in calling distance – and pretending to suffer some terrible attack until she, panicked, was on the verge of calling the police. This never seemed to get old – and Little Sister never seemed to learn. She did, however, learn other things. To pinch, for instance – a particularly effective tactic given her (relatively) diminutive stature. And to kick. I couldn't pinch back (that was forbidden, old enough to know better) but I could suggest she had been swapped at the hospital. Who else had freckles in the family?

As we got older, our methods became less subtle but more effective. "Freak!" I would yell. "Loser," she would riposte. "You're fat," she told the then-string-bean-me. "You're short," I replied, not untruthfully. It wasn't pleasant, but it worked. Were we two running for Labour leader, the contest would look considerably less like drying paint.

Milibands, to you I say this: watch and learn. This is how it's done. Ed – there's a ready-made joke for you in there. Think banana. Have them delivered to him. Start dropping them into conversation, preferably on live television with your mike still on. Arrive chez David ("brother dear") clutching one, or – even better – make sure your brother leaves with one. Remind us, not too subtly, what a fool he looked back then. And David, can't you... I don't know. Just sing the Annoying Song. Or answer all Ed's questions with the words "silly socks". Or pinch him. Trust me, it works every time. Failing that, call each other "Door". At least your non-digs might sound more interesting.

Things have calmed down in my own sibling rivalry. A bit. Little Sister is less little, and the (grossly underestimated) enjoyment of being the Eldest diminishes somewhat once you pass a quarter-century. Friday was my mother's birthday, in advance of which my sister and I actually engaged in a few enthusiastic texts: "R U going? Looking 4ward 2 seeing U!" And then there came the cruncher. "Wat U getting Mum?" she asked. As if. "Ha ha ha," I replied, "not telling!" David, Ed: do keep up.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the endless and beginningless election campaign goes up and down

John Rentoul
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

What the advertising world can learn from Zoella's gang

Danny Rogers
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor