Four years my senior, the first words uttered by my brother Peter when informed of my birth were "Well, looks like that's the end of the Cowboy and Indian set, it'll be flamin' dolls for Christmas now".
And so began the love-hate relationship of our childhood. The Cowboy and Indian set still arrived, with me spending much of my fourth year tied to the Hills Hoist, my feather head-dress (far too big for me) falling down my forehead and circulation faltering in my tiny hands. Thankfully in calling distance of Mum for assistance, not so fortunate when Brave Cowboy Pete tied me further afield.
I recall entering the house one day, rushing to the bathroom to wash my hands in the basin of water that stayed put for the day for just such purpose, plunging my hands into the water and recoiling in horror at the biting pain in my small chubby fingers as a mousetrap, set by my mischievious brother, had grabbed me. I well remember the shrieks of glee coming from him as he emerged from behind the door, and though I can't remember the details I've no doubt he wouldn't have been quite so excited when explaining the scenario to Dad that evening.
I also well remember leaving him behind at boarding school. I remember the dark trip home, Mum and I inconsolable for days. Living too far from school for weekend visits, he would only return home during end of term holidays. After one such visit I remember finding a note he'd left me under my pillow. He was letting me know I could have all of the fantales left in the fridge, his share included. I remember crying as I had my shower and explaining the tears to Mum by saying I'd burnt my hand under the hot water!
I also remember years later as he moved through his 'biker phase' being dropped off at secondary school by him on a huge thumping Harley Davison (or was it a Ducati), my necktie flapping over my shoulder, thinking I was the coolest kid on the block! Heck, none of those other girls need know it was my brother!
His work as a diesel fitter took him over much of the state and finally onto Darwin where he met his amazing wife Dinah and I had the honour of being chairperson at their wedding, only six weeks before my own. He's now the proud Dad of two gorgeous boys, who idolise him.
And in two days he will walk away from the company he has been with for over twenty years to begin the next chapter of his life, answering to nobody but himself (and perhaps Dinah), steering his prawn trawler up and down the Queensland coast in search of small crustaceans. Any concerns of Dinah's about their lack of stable, reliable income were put to rest with "Well hell honey, we'll live on shrimp... Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it".
But for today, it's my big brother Pete's birthday!
And I want him to know I could never have wished for a more wonderful man for a brother. He's big and rugged, strong and honest, smart and funny in the driest way possible, with a huge splash of integrity thrown in, and I'm very proud of the fact that we're blood.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUBBA, I mean PETE!