This is Andy, his cousin, though you don’t know that. You can only see the gelled up hair he’s had since he was fourteen, because he still thinks he’s fourteen, even though he’s at university, failing his degree and spending all his time in his pants drinking Irn Bru and playing Call of Duty.
Next to him is his dad and step-mum, Geoff and Anna, though your boyfriend doesn’t know them that well – I barely remember his fingerprint – apart from the fact that Geoff married his first wife because he liked her breasts, only her breasts, and convinced himself that that was a good enough place to start a long lasting relationship.
That one’s John, another uncle. He always misses hair when he shaves, leaving random downy tufts on his cheeks, miniscule bristles in his septum, and then has trouble dressing smart even though he looks good when he does. He’s been a kitchen porter, a waiter, a factory worker, a bricklayer, a fruit picker, an attendant at a nursing home, an office worker, a fisherman and anything else you can think of, and is constantly changing his glasses, not because he breaks them or loses them or because his eyesight is deteriorating as quickly as he changes jobs, but because he likes the way it changes the shape of his face, sometimes square, sometimes oval, sometimes triangular.
That’s Olive, lovely quiet Olive, whose constantly apologising, even in text messages, for bothering you. She has passions, whispering passions, and wants to be a scholar, though the rest of her practical family can’t see the point in living in penury for a dream, so she doesn’t. She’s a PA and speaks Spanish and French and gets paid well for it, though her boss smells faintly of raisins.
That’s Lisa. She’s a temp who hides in the toilet to send sexy texts to her boyfriend. That’s Ian who everyone knows is doing something in Japan, though no one knows what. That’s great uncle Gordon who puts shards of glass on his windowsills to keep away the pigeons. That’s Alice, a triathlon champ who can’t understand how to hit a shuttlecock. And that’s Pete. Yes. Pete, chasing your naked boyfriend on the beach at Scarborough that time when he refused to get dressed.
But no one talks about Pete. No. Best not to mention him.
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