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Happy Easter

April 5, 2021

Throughout my twenties and into my thirties, Easter meant heading to Euston after work on the Thursday and catching an incredibly packed train to Liverpool, then a commuter train to the village where my cousin Peter lived.

When I think of “family” I am very much thinking about Peter, his wife Jackie and their four children. I loved those Easter weekends. I loved them when the kids were kids and when they’d grown into teenagers.

Games were a prominent feature – along with country walks and visits to country pubs. There were card games and board games and quizzes. Games in the afternoon, games in the evening. (If lured by his youngest into starting a game of Connect Four, you could be sitting there for hours.) I loved those games.

I was a bit of an anomaly. Peter is fourteen years older than I am. His oldest, Stephen, is twelve years younger. When Stephen worked this out he was quite inexplicably chuffed. So I was this sort of bridge between the generations who, when they got into their teens, the kids could talk to about things like drugs.

I was also, unlike every other adult woman they knew, not married with children. Like their father, I was a journalist (although rather lower in the pecking order, as he was the deputy editor of the Liverpool Post), a working woman. Jackie once told me she thought it was a good thing that her young daughters appreciated this was a valid option.

As I said, I loved those weekends.

Of course the “kids” are all grown up now with kids of their own. Stephen, who married quite young, is soon to become a grandfather for the second time.

With Covid restrictions making travel impossible last December, the family decided to get together on Boxing Day on Zoom for some fun and games. I was also sent an invite. The plan was to start at 5pm their time, 9am mine. I could have made an effort to get up earlier than I normally do (I generally read in bed until at least two in the morning and never get up before ten), but I didn’t. Instead I made an excuse – said I was going to a friend’s for Christmas dinner, expected to have a fair bit to drink and stay over, so I wouldn’t be around. This wasn’t true. I wasn’t going anywhere. I planned to spend Christmas Day on my own, watching (as it turned out quite happily) Die Hard and Bond films before sitting down to Christmas dinner with the latest Ian Rankin.

Yes, there was the issue of getting up earlier than I normally would, but it wasn’t just that. “Family” Christmas was always just my mum and me. (Although, after Mum died, I did have a couple of Christmases with Peter and family.) I somehow felt as if I’d be an interloper. I don’t know why. Blame it on distance or an inclination towards depression that time of year. Anyway, I just did.

When an invite to an Easter Sunday fun and games Zoom call arrived, I was going to decline once again. Then I started thinking about how much I’d loved those Easter weekends and gave myself a shake, deciding to make an effort to make an effort and get myself out of bed earlier than I normally would. (Not that I stopped reading any earlier than I normally do.)

What larks! It was absolutely lovely to see everyone. And absolutely obvious that they thought it was lovely to see me, too. (Although I don’t imagine Janine’s kids or Stephen’s grandson had any idea who the hell I was.) Two hours of games and quizzes – which Stephen’s daughter Izzi won on a tiebreak – and a great deal of laughter.

Then it was time for them to have dinner and me to have breakfast – after posting my annual Easter greeting on Facebook.

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