I think it is time I told you the tale of me and Optimus Prime. Mother Dearest is convinced that I made this story up to guilt the Crazy Canalman into buying me the above model robot. I didn’t. The following is a true recounting of events as remembered by three year old me.
To fully appreciate the story I am about to tell you, I think it helps if you understand the dynamic of my family. I’ve said it before and I expect I will say it again: my family are more than a little screwball. I think all families are more than a little odd to outsiders, but put my odd against your odd, and I’m pretty certain I’ve got the script for a good drama (or comedy). And I love it. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my gloriously wonderful family. But, as I pointed out, we are a little strange. And strange doesn’t always lead to a quiet life. My brother is three years older than me and for once Chinese astrology has it right when they say a three year gap is the worst for opposing birth signs. My Dog and his Sheep… cat and dog had nothing on us growing up. Everything he did, I had to do bigger and better (and usually failed at). At the same time, he was my big brother and I worshipped him, even when he planted me in the vegetable patch to make me grow taller!
So when he got sick with tonsillitis on his seventh birthday, it was a big thing. Even though I was just three at the time, I remember that he wasn’t there and that Mum and Dad were worried.
I also have very vivid memories of being dragged around what felt like every single toy store in the South of England trying to find a fracking Optimus Prime robot. This was at the peak of the Transformers craze so, like every craze in the known universe, these toys were hard to find. Brother Dearest, like pretty much every other seven year old boy at this time wanted a Transformers toy. Mum and Dad wanted to make him feel better because he was in hospital over his birthday…
Poor little me had to go along on the shopping trip.
Mum claims there is no way I can remember all of this. I can. Going into a gazillion toy stores and not getting anything yourself has a tendency to stick in your brain when you’re a kid. We found the Optimus Prime toy eventually. I want to say in the ten thousandth store – it was probably more like the fifth or sixth. And Brother Dearest got his second birthday wish (his first being not to have his tonsils out – sadly, the doctors didn’t let him have his way on that one).
What did I get?
Zip. Nada. Not even the jelly left on Brother Dearest’s dinner tray, because I am allergic 🙁
Yes. Feel sorry for me!
To make matters worse – I never got to play with Optimus Prime. The most I got was to sit quietly in the corner whilst Brother Dearest transformed him into a juggernaut and back into a robot.
The memory stuck with me, as you might have gathered.
Fast forward twenty two years. It is the summer of Transformers once more and I was having a chat with the Crazy Canalman down the pub one lunchtime and out pours the whole sorry saga. (Moose, on hearing it I might add, had hysterics she found it so funny). I thought nothing of it, other than as a funny childhood memory. I have very few memories of when I was really young courtesy, I think, of putting my head through the caravan step when I was three – so it’s surprising how vivid this one memory is.
The Crazy Canalman, it turns out, was stricken with guilt that he so neglected his youngest child. A few weeks later I am the proud owner of an Optimus Prime robot all of my very own (and my mother is looking at the credit card bill in disbelief, but that’s another story). I love my Optimus Prime. Not because he can transform into a juggernaut and back, though he can (or so the instructions reliably inform me – after an hour both Moose and myself gave up. Clearly we’re far too intelligent). Not because he spouts out five different phrases from his stand, though he does. And not because he has opposable fingers, though he does. But because he’s mine and I have one when my brother no longer does. His went to charity an age ago – mine is sitting in my living room right now. And when Brother Dearest comes to visit and asks to play with it (because he will, nostalgia is a powerful thing), I can say no and make HIM sit quietly whilst I (attempt) to turn it into a juggernaut and back.
I’m sorry parents of siblings out there – sibling rivalry never dies. We just get more petty as we get older and can afford more expensive toys of our own.
Now if you will excuse me, I am off to play with my Optimus Prime some more. He has three different sorts of weapons and the Matrix of Leadership… I know I am 25 in a week, but I think it’s healthy to be in touch with your inner child geek 😉