Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother (Mugwump), but did he have to teach me some of life’s lessons the hard way? Of course he did, he is my older (elder) brother.
Two quick stories. I was about five or six. It was a week before our holiday in Westbrook. I had been saving my pocket-money since Christmas. Mugwump (six years my senior) saw me counting my savings and came up with a brilliant idea (or so it seemed). “Let’s put our money together and share it” he said excitedly. I had about seven pounds stirling saved. “If we put our money together we will have 10 pounds!”. This sounded like an enormous sum to me. “Ten pounds? Alright”. said the naive and trusting young Snowball.
I ran downstairs and seeing mum yelled out excitedly “Mugwump and I have put our money together and shared it – we have ten pounds!”. “Oh have you?” she said with the beginnings of ‘the look’ showing. “And how much money did you have?” When I had told her she called out “MUGWUMP!” and then we divided up our money again. Mugwump still laughs when we recall that story. I hadn’t yet heard the advice ‘If it sounds too good to be true it is too good to be true’.
The other Mugwump story is from his time at the RCTS. This was a boarding school created for the orphans of commercial travellers. My dad and uncles had all gone there during the first world war after my grandfather was killed at Ypres.
When my brother was in his last year my dad took the chairman of his firm to see the school on Founders Day. I am told Charles Dickens was one of the early board members of the school. My dad introduced Mugwump to his boss. “Well young man, and what do you want to do when you leave school?” he asked. Without a second’s thought (nothing unusual here) Mugwump replied “Retire, sir.”
Dad took his governor off to see the historic chapel building. Mugwump went back to playing cricket. My brother is still working on his plan to retire. His younger brother finally beat him at something.