By “others” I don’t mean Nicole Kidman and her family of ghosts, I mean of course the rest of my own family who have been instrumental in my mad upbringing. These include my siblings, my Greek grandparents and my non-Greek but not-really-English grandparents.
My younger brother and sister were not amused when I told them that I would be writing this piece. In fact they were quite vocal in their objections until I told them that as the eldest sibling, I knew best.
There is only a year and a half between my sister and I and we share many traits and similarities. We can crack each up with one word (usually a rude word), and often burst into joint song for no reason. People often ask us if we are twins, which I used to think was the most stupid comment to make back when we were aged nine and eleven and the height difference between us was immense.
A big rock n’roll and country music fan, my sister could have been the next Dolly Parton (without the peroxide hair) but instead chose to study Primary Education at university and now works as a private tutor.
Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease last year, she has turned her casual interest in cooking into a one-woman, gluten-free culinary mission, churning out all kinds of weird and wonderful dishes. A menace with the vacuum, she could give Hyacinth Bucket a run for her money.
My brother (aka The Little Prince) is a quiet soul who has grown up surrounded by adoring women. He rarely unleashes his inherited karate-chopping, teeth-gritting Red Ape side, but when he does, so help you.
Intelligent, spiritual, and a little bit miserly, my brother spends most of his free time creating short films and montages of my father during his angry and/or clumsy phases. Each week I am forced to watch the latest episode of “Dimitri’s Worst Bits” which includes clips of my father snoring, sleeping, swearing, and usually breaking something.
At Christmas time, the entire family is presented with a place tag decorated with the most embarrassing picture my brother can find, alongside a picture of an animal, monster, or particularly reviled celebrity that we most resemble. One is not always amused.
In my younger years, visiting my Greek grandparents was the highlight of the year. They were often a great source of amusement and terrorizing my Papou by turning the light on and off when he was on the toilet was a favourite pastime.
Soft and sweet and surprisingly strong, my Yiayia could crush us all with one hug. Now in her eighties, she still makes a point of knowing all the local gossip and is more informative than The Athens Times.
My non-Greek grandfather claims to come from royality but his daily demeanour suggests otherwise. Plain speaking, tough and definitely not to be messed with, he was a competitive swimmer and boxer in his heyday and has the broken nose to prove it. Somewhat incongruously, he originally worked as a tailor for a fashion house and produced many of my Nan’s glamorous coats, before moving into the sound production business and creating the first ever disco unit. Had he continued in the clothing industry he is quite sure he would have been the next Giorgio Armani.
Memorable moments include the time he was pulled over by the police when driving his gleaming Rolls Royce because they thought he had stolen it (he was wearing a camouflage T-Shirt and baseball cap and apparently looked “shady”) and the time when he sued a local herbal shop after it turned out that the herbal remedies they were giving him were in fact high-class drugs. He has suffered from a dodgy heart ever since.
Last but not least I come to my Nan. Sharp, witty, intelligent, acerbic, it has been said that her genes bypassed my mother, and instead were passed directly to me, including her short-sightedness (the world has been a blur since I was eight – thank you Nanny).
A pro with a needle and thread, an avid reader and a lover of good food and wine, my Nan was the only person that I could engage in intelligent conversation with, seeing as my father was usually in the grips of a Red Ape phase while my mother would be pirouetting around the kitchen.
Glamorous and gregarious, my Nan was the wisest owl of us all.
All dancing, all singing, all reading and definitely all mad, my Big Fat Greek and non-Greek family have made me who I am today. A complete nutter. And I give thanks to them all.