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by Joe Bedford

It was a three-uncle job. Strictly no aunts.

“Uncle-stack!” I had suggested, my father stumped, expecting something more mundane. But no; there would be no toy cars, no pyjamas or pogo-sticks. What I wanted was a stack of uncles — more precisely Uncle Bobby, Uncle Jack and Uncle Nicholas in ascending order. I was about to turn six. My mother tried to appease me with a trip to Scarborough. It would have to be the uncles.

November 1st 1991 would have been the day. The party was probably a cake-and-jelly affair. Maybe somewhere a party-bag trinket still lingers in someone’s attic.

They assembled in my back garden: the uncles and everyone else.

Uncle Jack crouched; Nicholas shook like a party horn as he stepped up onto Jack’s shoulders. Jack straightened out. A flutter of applause. Bobby (a rugby referee) crouched down and cracked his knuckles. Jack, clutching Nicholas by the jeans, manoeuvred towards Bobby’s shoulders. The family was egging them on. Bobby backed up under Jack’s pencil legs. Jack lifted a foot, Nicholas’ weight brought it down. He lifted again, dropped it on Bobby’s shoulder. Bobby slapped at the other leg. A moment of withheld breath, and the other foot stepped up. A severe wobble brought a bubble of ohh’s. The stack was stable, but Bobby was still squatting. He caught my eye then; I remember it perfectly. With veins a-popping, he rose, his powerful knees unbending, heaving with glorious triumph, allowing himself a sportsman’s grunt. He stood there, his hands at Jack’s ankles, the man, the uncle. I was, apparently, speechless, as my family erupted in cheers.

It is impossible to remember, I think, what it is like to be six years old and weeping with joy …

At the age of seven, requests for an auntie-stack were abruptly declined.


Joe Bedford is a writer living in Brighton, the U.K. His work has been published in Adbusters,Storgy and through several online culture-zines.

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