It’s my Big Brother’s Birthday today!

It’s very important to me that my big bro’s birthday is celebrated in the best way possible. So yes, we may be stuck at work today and not down the pub having a few but I had to show the love. Because no one is ever more in sync with my train of thought than him; he gets it in those times when I am being totally inappropriate, when I’m supposed to be serious, like exhibitions, events, speeches, in church! It’s like a genetic defect that he shares!!  No one else is more in sync when I am doing my silly dances at parties or clubs and joins in, or when we randomly start dancing when shopping, mortifying whoever we’re with. When we start getting all crazy with the ‘Douglas wine’. Just one look and he joins in on my craziness!

For as long as I can remember, he has been fascinated by what I do, I remember him clearly when I was around very young, maybe 6years old and building the strangest buildings you’d ever seen out of Lego! The expressions on his face would change when he couldn’t find space because I was either colouring in books or spread on the floor with said Lego. It would go from anger to stepping on a piece of Lego he didn’t see to curiosity at what I came up this time to resignation to leave me be and find something else to do… And then back to anger because I’d leave what I was doing to follow him and ask him 100 questions about what he was doing!

The best memory I have of my brother’s fascination with what I do was about 8 years ago. We went to a house party at a friend of his now wife. And aside from the gigantic dog I called a horse and it being the first time I ever played guitar hero, I remember Jade and I were drawing designs on our skin – random little tribal designs, or anime faces, because that’s what Jade and I first connected with – Art –  and adding alcohol to the mix apparently called for some drawing fun!

Anyway, the reachable parts of my arms and legs were pretty much covered and despite praying and wishing, I am not ambidextrous and I couldn’t draw on my right arm. I stood in the kitchen and lifted up my arm and drew a quick sketch on my stomach, upside down of an anime face with flowing hair, wide eyes and a smile.

I looked at my brother who was watching in fascination and then he made me pound fists with him and gave me a hug to say that’s wicked. I didn’t get it at the time, thought it was a slight overreaction actually, he’d seen me draw before and come up with better.

And the older I got, the more I understood what he was doing. Our father was more critical than openly supportive (not 100%accurate – it was his way of being supportive, it just didn’t always encourage). Our mother has always been and continues to be supportive but always encourages us to look at the next step or the back up plan. (No complaints here Mum, it worked wonders and I am happy.)

What Nigel was doing, was openly encouraging me to keep doing it because I enjoyed it. He was always engaged when I spoke about art and I never felt I pestered him. He’s pretty much that way about everything I choose to do, no matter how bad an idea it is! To go at it 100%. Better to regret it than not do it.

“If that’s what you wanna do sis, I got your back”. A typical Nigel quote when discussing my worries about a choice or someone’s reaction to it. The other quote being too explicit for a blog post…

Now I am 28 and look at him and his life with the same fascination. While I’d put myself out there and focused on a career at work and in the arts, he built the true definition of a home. The likes of which people crave for everyday, written about in books, where family and friends are always welcomed. Where support and your safe haven where no one dared to find you was right on the other side of his door. He’s even got the dog that everyone wants to keep!!

He has always told me he was proud of my achievements and it’s time to say I am proud of his. He has created two beautiful tiny humans who I love with all of my heart and works so hard everyday to support them. To the point where we don’t see him as much as we’d like.

I am proud of his resolve and the man that he is and the rock he has been to so many of us, especially as we stumbled our way through 2016. You helped make us that little bit steadier and I just want to say thank you for all you do. It doesn’t, never has and never will go unnoticed or unappreciated.

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Love you bro!

Tan xx

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