Janet Christie: Replacement hips, broken backs and hernias be damned

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IT’S my annual family get-together with almost 20 of us in a farmhouse in the North Yorkshire Moors.

We’re gathered in front of a crackling fire and there’s been a quiz, sword dancing, Youngest is suggesting charades, and my aunty “a disco”, but for the moment there’s a fierce game of pick-up-the-cereal-box-with-your-teeth going on. Replacement hips, broken backs and hernias be damned.

“Never knew you had a tattoo there, our kid,” says someone to a cousin. Middle Child starts taking photographs.

“Ooh, he can do your wedding photos,” my aunty flings across to a cousin.

“Are you getting married?” I say.

“No,” he says, deadpan.

“What’s wrong with you all? Your uncle and I are the only ones here married. It’s time you all got on with it.”

Among the assembled family there are enough victims for five weddings at least.

What about you?” she asks the Youngest Cousin. “You’re happy. Why don’t you get married?

“Because my two elder siblings’ failed marriages have put me off,” she smiles.

“What about you?” the Oldest Cousin, cosied up with his long-term partner is next.

“Yes, eldest first,” cry the younger ones, just for badness.

“You’re right. You’re the only two here married,” says the Oldest Cousin. “It’s not right. You’ll just have to get divorced.”