Five Lovely Daughters
By the time I hit puberty, I’d heard hundreds of stories about Auntie Pam and her five lovely daughters. Okay, she wasn’t actually called Pam and she wasn’t technically speaking my Auntie, but my family is a bit like that: everyone’s sister is also their cousin and their grandmother. I don’t know quite how far back down the line we all became a bit ‘Lannister’ but it would be fair to say our gene pool has a lot of Chlorine in it.
So…I had a lot of Aunties and Uncles, but it was always difficult to tell whether they were real relatives. As far as I knew, my mum had no brothers or sisters: most of the Aunties were just women who’d popped round to borrow some sugar and most of the Uncles were, I guess, just blokes who’d popped round.
We’ll draw a discreet veil over all that, and start again.
My Auntie Pam, who wasn’t my auntie and wasn’t called Pam, had five absolutely stunning daughters. There was Jenny, Becky, Clare, Sarah and Shelly: all blonde and all head turners. Admittedly, these were just rumours and – being an only child myself – all of them had come from the adults…but, still…
…the rumours excited me incredibly, not least because I’d just turned 13 and viewed girls as these incredible, mystical creatures who I simply could not talk to at all: I’m now 39 and nothing has changed, but we’re getting off track.
Five daughters: all completely wonderful.
So when mum told me that we were going to spend the weekend with rich Auntie Pam at her weekend retreat and that I’d finally be introduced to the girls, I was so unbelievably thrilled-up that I could barely walk.
I pretended I was only interested in the trip to London, the beautiful house, the experience of something new…but mum saw through all that. She was excited for me, and it showed.
I was so nervous on the way to London that I could barely speak. I couldn’t focus on reading, games, anything. I just wanted to get there…
But I was in for a shock.
We arrived on the Friday: no girls. Auntie Pam explained that they’d gone away with their dad and wouldn’t be back until Sunday…just a few hours before I was due to leave.
It was the longest weekend of my life. The house, despite being on the edge of London, was uninspired and curiously empty, the grounds tedious to wander through and the nearest shopping centre was nearly an hour to get to by bus.
The only thing keeping me from total gloom was the prospect of Sunday…and the girls.
Then the teasing started. Mum was quite bad, but always respectful of my feelings: Auntie Pam, on the other hand, was brutal.
‘You’re getting excited now, aren’t you? You just wait: Shelly is going to be your favourite…or maybe Becky. Oh, they’re going to be fighting over you. You poor boy.’
The whole situation was getting really built up, and I began to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable that I already fancied these girls and I hadn’t even seen a picture of them…
…because there were NO pictures in the house: not one. There were none of the family, none of the girls: nothing. Not a single photograph. When I asked why, Auntie Pam just said: ‘Oh, your Uncle Jack (not my uncle) hates photographs. He thinks it’s just vanity.
I remember thinking: he sounds like a laugh.
Then it happened. A car pulled up on the drive and I was dragged into the living room and sat on a stool like a prize exhibition piece at a museum. My hands were sweating, I couldn’t breathe and my nerves were all on edge.
Shelly was the first to come in.
Now, I want to stop at this point and make a statement about being overweight. During my teenage years, I put on a lot – a LOT – of weight and got teased at school for it: mercilessly. I was so big that Richard & Judy featured my ‘fat photograph’ on their show when they interviewed me. Now, as an adult, I’m in reasonable shape…but I do have a lot of respect for people with weight issues: especially girls, as they suffer the most. Personally, I like girls with a bit of meat on them, and I appreciate women who like to eat. My wife isn’t exactly wasp-wasted, and that’s fine by me: I don’t get the modern standard of weight-obsession and female role models who promote the idea of trying really hard to turn yourself into what is basically a scaffolding pole with lipstick.
All that said, I am aware that there are levels of excess weight. These seem to be overweight (most of us are in this category), very overweight (eating is our basic instinct, so cut these folks some slack), obese (possibly a health issue) and morbidly obese (definitely a health issue).
Shelly was in the last category. Shelly was, in the nicest possible way, a very big girl. Very big indeed. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that she struggled to get through the doorway.
Shelly was the smallest of Auntie Pam’s daughters.
As I sat on that stool, trying to keep my mouth closed and my eyes moving for fear of being rude, I watched as the rest of them arrived, each new girl bigger than the one before.
The last two were brought in via the French doors at the back of the garden, presumably because they struggled with the narrow frame around the living room one.
I’d like to remind you all that I was 13 years old, and was in complete and utter disbelief at the sheer scale of what I was witnessing. To make things even worse, their dad – a skinny guy with a flat cap and a gruff manner – quite literally herded them around as if they were grazing cows, pointing out chairs and clapping his hands to move them from one place to another.
I kept completely still, feeling the blood slowly draining from my face as the room filled up. I clenched my fists and tried to smile, but I felt like a single McDonald’s French Fry in a box of Big Macs.
Their mum was completely thrilled and made me sit on their laps: seriously. I sat on each lap and got a cuddle before being manhandled onto a different knee to receive another one. I think I was passed around that room about four times.
The only person not smiling was my mum, who looked like she wanted to give me a cuddle herself and tell me that I was a good boy, and her brave little soldier. Personally, I was in shock.
It was, in every way, a weekend to remember.
Of course, by the time I got home on Sunday night I’d snogged all five of them.
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© 2017 David Stone
David Grimstone (David Lee Stone) from Ramsgate is a bestselling author of series fiction for Disney USA, Penguin USA and Hodder UK.