Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Madness of Twins

I have two little sisters. They're not 'little' as such. They're 40-something and not even shorter than me – only my mum is shorter than me – but they are younger, so they shall be forever little to me. Anyway, they are also twins which makes them slightly bonkers. It always has done, and I've always found it fascinating. Even though they're grown and have families of their own now, the 'twinniness', as our older sister first coined it, hasn't let up.

They have this psychic thing. Granted, they shared a womb and a bedroom their entire childhood, some of the same teachers and of course, many of the same friends, so they're bound to be in tune.  And they look the same. Exactly the same. Having someone who shares every one of your features has got to bond you to them, right there, hasn't it?

But it's more than that.

They have had those weird unexplainable shared moments and shared pain, such as when one had a medical emergency in Italy and the other felt it in Wales, pre- mobiles, pre- even entertaining the idea of calling from abroad because it was way too expensive. They've bought the same clothes without realising and yet, somewhat surprisingly, they don't have the same taste.

The previous episode to make me gasp before this morning's, just-too-weird moment, was on the day of the launch party for Glass Houses. One was coming up to Yorkshire from the South of England and the other from South Wales. Both aimed to arrive 'around mid-afternoon'. Neither of them has tendencies to lateness – ahem, that's just me – but one is much more punctual than the other. The less punctual one rang the second, hands-free, to ask how she was getting on. Struggling! She was going to stop at the next services. How funny, says the first. It was exactly what she was thinking and she was only two miles away from being able to stop. Me, too! says the second. And they laughed at sharing yet another nugget of 'twinniness'.

Now, bear in mind that both sisters would join the M1 eventually but neither until the second part of their journeys and they hadn't discussed what time they'd leave their respective homes nor their ETA at my house. So when one says, Hang on a minute, isn't your registration '*$!"?~%'?, she wasn't expecting to see her (identical looking) sister at the wheel of the car immediately in front, now glancing in her rear view mirror as both stop talking and gasp because they are one behind the other, at the exact same time, on the exact same section of motorway, both craving a drink (and they're not like me, the kettle back on, the moment the previous cup of tea is gone) having set off from homes over 100 miles from each other. Well, that blew my mind.

But this, this is even better than that.

Today I get two pieces of post. One from each sister. They are lovely and I can happily report that all four of us sisters are very close, but we don’t send each other post every week. It's high days and holidays at most, so that in itself made me smile.

On closer examination, I see that one sister was rushing or multi-tasking when she addressed the envelope because it contained only my house number, street and the name of our tiny village. No town or postcode, let alone county. Consequently, the letter, a thank you for a present given in September, had taken a while to get to us. Although I must say, well done to the super sleuths of the Post Office and thank them for their determination as the letter had been to two other counties first.

Next comes the other sister's mail which is a Christmas card. This wasn't just any old Christmas card however, this had flashing lights and a picture frame type stand, because we both LOVE a bit of Christmas bling. We all send each other Christmas cards, and granted, of our entire family, barring perhaps one auntie, my Christmas cards are always the last to arrive, but still, I have never, ever in my 49 years on this wonderful planet, known any member of my super-sized family to send a Christmas card in October.

Something, some external force, and what I can only label as extreme 'twinniness' decided that this year, on that day, my sister was going to send me a Christmas card before Halloween and that card would arrive on the same day as a letter which had taken a very circuitous route to get to me.

This is the madness of twins.

And I think this is why a twin has crept into the first draft of my latest novel. This twin arrived unannounced and bears no resemblance to either twin in looks or temperament. And (s)he – no clues – may not survive the first edit cull, but for now, (s)he's amusing me. 

So, are you a twin? Do you have twins in your lives? Please do share your stories - I do love a good 'twin' story😊


  1. Hi Jackie, firstly just to say "Hi" as I am Hannah (Lyall)'s sister and she forwarded your blog to me today. Loved reading what you have written and found my lips curving spontaneously into a smile again and again as I read your blog. Yes! It is uncanny, weird, and so precious and such a privelege to observe the connection between twins. We have 16 year old twin boys (so, Hannah's nephews) who continue to behave pretty much like pups in their shared physical proximity. I love their deep booming voices which I can never distinguish one from the other. I love having a conversation between walls to discover I've got the wrong son!!! One of their weird stories was to do with an activity week they went on in year 7 with school to Wales. As they were in different classes they went at separate times. When twin number 2 got home he said he had freaked one of the instructors out. All the boys shared bunks in one large dorm and could choose their bed on arrival. Randomly and coincidentally twin 2 picked the upper deck of exactly the same bunk that twin 1 had slept in. Odd!!
    Another funny story was when twin 2 did a public performance for his gcse music last year on electric guitar. Afterwards I was with twin 1 when a parent came up to congratulate him, saying "you are a really good guitarist". Twin 1 does not play guitar so, with conviction replied "no I'm not, really!". Parent continued telling twin 1 not to be so modest and he really was very good. Twin 1 replied with even more conviction that he really wasn't at which point guitar-playing twin 2 walked in - and the penny dropped for the very kind parent . And so the stories go on! Really good to read a big sister's perspective as our boys have a 2 year older, big sis too. God bless you and I would love to read/hear more!
    Victoria Hutchinson (Lyall) x

  2. Awwww Victoria, what a wonderful comment, thank you SO much for taking the time and yes, I can picture all of that. There just is no other explanation for the bed choice is there? And I smiled about the mistaken identity at the public performance, I can just imagine it. I have quite a few memories of my sisters playing with the 'twinny mix up', not least one of them saying 'Hi' to someone, me asking who it was and them replying that they have no idea, the other person obviously thought they were the other twin and it was just easier to go along with it :) Thanks for the stories!

  3. Attempt no 2 to leave message!
    Brilliant Jackie - that made me laugh so much and consider how special it is to be a twin! I have always thought how lucky i am to be a twin but perhaps sometimes when we are having a very heated disaggreement that no other family member or friend could have without feuding for life. I need a leetle reminder how special it is. I would also like to add that my two older sisters that have put up with us are equally as special and people often say '..is it different having a twin sister than sisters'? Well yes in some ways like the identical look thing but not in sisterly bond! My older sisters are absolutely just as special to me i feel i must say. So all in all thank you and love the hiliareous blog - brilliant as ever but well done also for making me appreiate how lucky i am to be a twin and have 2 amazing big sisters as well! Lastly loved Victoria's view too!

    1. I think I'm feeling a bit emotional today because that just made me cry... bless you. Thank you for saying that - we are so lucky that all four of us get on so well, aren't we? Nature doesn't always pick compatible personalities, alas! It is true, you two can argue like, phew, yeah, but it does just reinforce how close you are, the twinniness ;) Anyway, I'm glad it made you laugh :D And I agree, great comment from Victoria. Thank you x

  4. Fabulous blog as usual Jax and of course made me think of many twinly moments! People often used to say to me "Oh poor you, however did you manage having twins", of course there was no need to pity me at all, entirely the opposite in fact, being the mother of twins is really fun (even now!) and no doubt it was helped by the fact that I also had two absolutely lovely older daughters as well. Yes I do mean you! Remember the time when they were less than a year old and had graduated from being in the same cot into one each, they didn't think that was a good plan so one of them had climbed over the cot side, got onto the window sill in an effort to reach the other cot and, were it not for her three year old big sister hearing the movement and us going to check, could easily have fallen out onto the ground 2 floors below. I can still see this with horror now. I also remember very well how they always had to sit in the same chair even when they were really far too big to do so and what about when, in junior school they both wrote the same first line to a poem even though they weren't in the same room at the time. I could go on and can't wait your new "twin" in your next novel.

  5. Oh bless you, I'm loving the group family hug :D :D Of course, I remain immensely proud to this day of 'saving my little sister's life' and, more seriously, I can imagine how the 'what if' could haunt a mother. I absolutely do remember them always sitting in the same chair (more room for the rest of us) but didn't know about that poem - wow!


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