Ha, ha, you look tiny in that picture,” says my brother over the phone. He lives in deepest Englandshire and has received a recent photo of me and the children.
“Thanks very much,” I say. “Been walking to work, must be paying off.”
“No, I meant short,” he says.
It’s true. Even Youngest Child towers over me and all three can be heard sniggering about my “teeny shoes” lined up next to theirs in the hall.
“Just because mine aren’t Clydebuilt,” I say to Eldest.
“What’s Clydebuilt?” he says.
“You know, ships. Shipbuilding. Oh never mind.” Like mining and steel, manufacturing, trade unionism, socialism and feminism, shipbuilding is something from a bygone age.
“Anyway, I’m the same height as Nicola Sturgeon, the UK average,” I say. “I don’t know why people make her wear heels. She’s not short. She’s average. Like me.”
This produces fresh laughter from somewhere above my head.
So I might call them Eldest and Middle Child, but they’re now adults, small green shoots of maturity have appeared. For example, Youngest now submits to her parka for school without resistance. Although she did cut out the name tag I’d sewn in.
“Why did she do that?” I asked Eldest.
“Well it’s infantilising. Like if your mum makes you a lunch box.”
“Oh. So lunch boxes are bad too.”
“Well ... I wouldn’t say no,” he says.
“Make your own. You’re 20.”
Then there was the appearance of Middle and Eldest in walking boots and waterproofs at my bedside early doors last weekend.
“We’re going for a walk in the Pentlands,” said Middle.
“Really? It’s still dark.”
“Best part of the day. You’re missing it. You can’t spend your day lying in bed,” says Eldest, without a scintilla of irony.
Eh? With everyone out, that’s exactly what I did.