Culture

Siblings

Zeitgeisters,

SBS has been showing a program called Great Australian Albums at 8.30pm on Saturday nights. Already screened;Silverchair’s Frogstomp. Crowded House’s Woodface The Triffids’ Born Sandy Devotional and this coming Saturday (18th August), The Saints (I’m) Stranded.

I’ve liked what I’ve seen of the series, but I was particularly taken with the Woodface edition because it showed Tim and Neil Finn speaking reasonably candidly about their sibling rivalry. Although this story has been beaten up considerably over the years, both had interesting things to say about their relationship. The first thing I thought as I was watching was that I had to make sure my brother saw this, too.

Whether you work with siblings or not, your sisters and brothers (usually) occupy a particular place in your emotional landscape. They can be the only other people who really get what’s “wrong” with your parents. Or sometimes they’re the favoured one and you’re the outsider. Sometimes your siblings are like strangers who accidentally shared the bedroom next to yours for a few years. Siblings can be your closest friends and also capable of the most casual cruelty – because they know you so well.

Who else knows what an absolute, unmitigated disaster you were as a child or adolescent? Who isn’t fooled by the in-control adult persona you present to the world? Who will keep your secrets? If you’re lucky, its your sibling.

For those of you who are the only child in your family, I can only offer the many studies that show you are in fact no more selfish or hermit-like than any other member of the community. We multi-offspringists have so many prejudices.

I have worked with my brother on a number of occasions and I believe that there can be many positives in doing this. I’ve known him since I was two years old and we have a communication based on years of experiences, discussions and shared influences. Miss Raspberry Beret points out that he and I can have a telephone conversation that consists of a series of tonal grunts and murmurs. The only downside is when that communication breaks down, I have a tendency to pull rank older-brother-style and get very high-handed indeed.

I remember a work colleague grinning as I got off the phone. I asked what the joke was and he said, “I can always tell when you’re talking to your brother, you wouldn’t dare talk to anyone else like that.” I’ve tried to be a little less blatant since then.

Elevate the In-sib-nificant,
Sister Trivia

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