On this day in mid-1960’s Kirskstall, Leeds my younger brother Ian made his appearance into the world. Born at home, our kid arrived shortly after the conclusion of the second Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston fight.
With Clay (latterly Muhammed Ali) winning by first round KO, Ian didn’t turn up on time to witness Liston being struck to the canvas by the Louisville Lip. Although I suspect, as a new-born child wrapped in swaddling clothes, at the time my brother won’t have been overly bothered missing this fleeting pugilistic encounter for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Although growing into a toddler with a shock of white hair and aesthetically pleasing looks capable of manipulating even the coldest of souls, he was an ugly baby. His flattened visage apparently leading to comments from the midwife that it’d looked like our Ian who’d stepped into the ring with Clay, not Liston.
Family folklore records that the new-born infant was named Ian by my Leeds United supporting father as a tribute to the side’s 1960’s midfield enforcer Bobby Collins. This an idiosyncratic approach adopted by my dad to name his offspring; a strategy which saw me christened Gary after Leeds defender Jack Charlton and my sister Helen named after rugby league commentator Eddie Waring.
Being a then toddler, I recall little of the day my brother was born. I suspect I’d have been sat on the family sofa holding my favourite stick with string attached, rueing the fact I was born in a decade of rubbish kids toys.
Anecdotally I’m informed our kid was a bouncing 6lb 8oz babe……. Bouncing an apt way to describe the babe – His legendary clumsiness soon evident when shortly after arriving he knocked over a cup of tea, along with breaking two dressing table ornaments.
It wasn’t long before the family arrived bearing gifts of a cold, frankincense and myrrh. Not your standard gifts for a newly born 1960’s ‘baby boomer’, although my dad later found the frankincense handy for clearing his nose when succumbing to the cold.
This week I ask my mum of her recollection of the fateful day her second offspring joined this world. After a brief pause, she responded tersely:-
“I was upset that our Ian broke ornaments of sentimental value – Not to mention hacked off that I could never get rid of that bl**dy tea stain.”
“No I mean happy memories of our Ian’s arrival, mum.” I attempted to clarify.
“Well, the fact he didn’t break the other two ornaments on our dressing table made me fairly chipper….. Is that what you meant?” she whimsically recalled.
“No, not really. I’m referring to genuinely joyous recollections from one of the biggest days of your life.” I further enquired.
“Ian not breaking the other two ornaments was a joyous recollection….. One of them was an antique toby jug made around the times Alfred burnt the cakes.” she argued.
“Don’t be daft, mum!……… Toby jugs weren’t manufactured as far back as 9AD.” I countered patronisingly.
“I don’t mean King Alfred, you fool…… I’m talking about your dad’s absent-minded uncle Alfred from Normanton……. He bought it in an antique shop in the 1930’s. Apparently, it was worth a fortune “ she clarified.
“Do we still have that toby jug, mum?” I enquired with pound signs in my eyes.
“No. Our Ian broke it playing football in the house about eight years later.” mater crushingly responded.
Anyhow, back to my brother’s birthday……….
Despite living in different parts of England for three decades, we’ve had some great times over the last fifty plus years. None of them were in each others company, but we’ve both had some great times.
Seriously, though, our existential odysseys have included thousands of hours playing and watching football/cricket together, attending gigs, breaks away, socialising, along with arguing over whose turn it was to commentate and make crowd noises at Subbuteo. All fond memories evoked when recollecting times in the company of my lifelong best mate.
Happy Birthday bro…… May your birthday be full of the good things that befit a man of your selflessness, warmth and generosity of spirit.