Thursday, 24 May 2012

'Nuncle, give me an egg'

I don't usually mention my family online, mostly because they're such appalling gargoyles that you'd think I made them up. But today, an exception, as my third sister (I'm one of six, four of them girls) has spawned offspring, the first of my generation to do so. Apparently that's not enough though, and my sister-in-law is having a child in August too. Let's hope that will be an end to all this procreation.

Anyway, the appearance of smaller version of my siblings and their beloveds means that I'm an uncle, even though nobody asked me to sign a consent form or anything. The question is, what sort of uncle to be? Obviously there are some basic characteristics: cool, relaxed, friendly, generous, but surely there's more to it? The ultimate prize of course would to be the uncle about which people shrug and sigh when I'm mentioned at family gatherings to which I'm not invited.

Of the role models available to me, the family tends towards 'eccentric'. There's the nearly-priest turned Tory councillor who campaigns for bigger nuclear weapons. There's the one who has a massive violent dog and keeps finding his dead mother's sports cars buried in the garden. They and the 'normal' ones and those misguided enough to marry into the clan are all, to be fair, lovely people who add to life's rich tapestry. Indeed, one of them who occasionally reads this journal opened the conversation with me at my sister's wedding with 'I'd like to abolish the NHS', which made me laugh a lot and was a damn sight more entertaining than the 'doesn't she look lovely?' phatic conversations.

So, unclehood (uncledom?). I don't need to lavish cash and gifts on this one: he's already far richer than I'll ever be. As far as I can see, the options are 'embarrassing', 'distant' and 'funny'. The thinking so far is that I'll appear at random moments bearing weird books, extreme opinions and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci albums. Later on, I'll supplement these things with jazz cigarettes and gin. I know this is the right thing to do because the first alcoholic drink I had was gin and tonic, provided over lunch in copious quantities by an aunt, an hour before a university interview. It went swimmingly.

Being a bookish type, my other option for uncle role models is by turning to literature. Thankfully, the Guardian has listed the ten best wicked uncles: Hamlet's ambitious Uncle Claudius appeals, but the effort involved is far too much. If the children are annoying, I'll follow Ebenezer from Kidnapped, and sell them into slavery (i.e. to a major supermarket's 'work experience' scheme). Then there's always Uncle Vernon (and several of the Black family) from the Harry Potter series. Or Scrooge McDuck (I assume that he has Huey, Dewey and Louie after their parents ended up à l'orange. In real life, there's also Richard III, though I'm not sure my nieces and nephews will actually stand in the way of my ascent to power and therefore probably won't require murdering in the Tower. Actually, I'm hoping they'll be nice, cool kids. And of course the sorry tale of Emperor Tiberius, who murdered his popular nephew Germanicus. Rather stupidly, he then adopted Germanicus's young son. His name was Caligula, who promptly murdered Tiberius and then embarked on a reign of terror. What a role model.

Your suggestions of uncle role models?


Music for Deckchairs said...

Cautionary movie: Let's Kill Uncle (1966 or thereabouts from memory). First movie to completely terrify me. Do search for the trailer on YouTube, you'll love it.

You'll be great.

Anonymous said...

Constructing elaborate Uncle-alities (personalities for uncles) is fun, but do remember that a few years of entertainment can often lead to decades of awkwardness. My nieces and nephews actually thought for a while that I came from the moon - and that my two different coloured eyes (one blue, one brown) came from an eclectic 'Eye Emporium' in Tottenham Court Road where they could be bought for 1 groat each. This was enormous fun for a while, but then the gullible wee things grew up and now I just seem (probably more accurately) like a bit of a weirdo.

Anonymous said...

My partner is known to our many nieces and nephews, plus honorary versions of such, as Mad Uncle [name]. The very existence of this sobriquet and his attempts to change it to Magical Uncle [name] set the scene for their perception of him and his relationship with them. So my recommendation is to start with an adjective (especially as it sounds as though they will have many uncles - you need a unique selling point anyway). Otherwise you could get stuck with 'Stoke-supporting uncle Uncle Vole' (they will support ManU, so this may not be good) or 'Fencing Uncle Vole' (ambiguous).

Whatever, enjoy it, it should be a lovely relationship! So much fun to have the family connection with small children but none of the responsibilities....

The Plashing Vole said...

I like the idea of a relationship without serious responsibilities. Perhaps 'Forbidding Uncle'.

They'll definitely be Man U fans: the boy was born in London and the other one will be born in Cambridge.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Tom?

Anonymous said...

Uncle Fred, from Wodehouse's Blandings stories. He's the Earl of Emsworth's disreputable brother, an 1890s stage-door johnny in his youth, regularly arrested for stealing policemen's helmets, and even in his old age can still drink the younger generation under the table, and is always available for disreputable and/or illegal schemes. He would be the perfect uncle!

The Plashing Vole said...

I was trying to ignore Uncle Tom!

Shocked I didn't think of Wodehouse. Excellent suggestions.

Emma said...

What about the uncle in The Radleys (Matt Haig)?

The Plashing Vole said...

Further suggestions from Emma and myself:

Uncle Fester (the Munsters)
Uncle Quentin of the Famous Five
Uncle Diggory of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (and Uncle Miraz of The Horse and his Boy)
Supposedly Mickey Mouse and Kermit Frog had nephews too.
Uncle Travelling Matt from Fraggle Rock (a new one on me).
and of course… Uncle Monty from Withnail and I. Fat, camp and boisterous.