Discovering your family’s twin…

It’s not uncommon to discover that those with whom you become friends in later life have had an upbringing similar to your own – like attracts like after all. But there are occasions on which this fleeting similarity turns into a vision of an almost identical childhood, and quite frankly, there is one particular set of friends where the similarities are now spooky. It’s less “Oh! How funny! We had that too!” and more “Ah, ok, yes we had exactly the same thing…again.”

The Kilverts and the Clutterbucks have known each other in some form since 1997. Clutterbuck Maximus (myself) and Kilvert Maximus (Jenni) met through singing, and our younger siblings joined the happy singing throng a year or two later. It’s been nearly 19 years and it’s now official that we practically had exactly the same upbringing.

Minimii & MaximiiWe are so cool that in 2008 we had Minimus & Maximus hoodies created! Clutterbucks Minimus & Maximus (left), Kilverts Minimus & Maximus (right). The Morris sisters (centre) literally did share a childhood with the Kilverts…

It began with the simple things: similar values around after school activities and wholesome holiday adventures; clothes from 80’s classic retailer Clothkits; and a lack of frivolous games (looking at you Mr Frosty). It’s the kind of thing Buzzfeed could turn into a listicle, which if posted on Facebook would garner likes from a good number of friends.

Then it turned out that on more than one occasion, there was the possibility that we would actually have grown up together. In 1982 my family moved to Wealdstone in Harrow where Dad became minister of the local Methodist Church – the very one which my friends’ family had attended until a move to Harpenden a little while earlier. (This particular gem was discovered by our mothers while on the London Eye, they realised they had mutual friends as a result.) Over a decade later, there was a possible job in the very same town – it ended up not being a match, but had it been, I would have met Jenni two whole years before we actually did.

This past week featured a long discussed trip to Belfast for the Kilverts & Clutterbucks [well, the Kilvert, Clutterbuck, Barrett & Monks] – I think we’ve only been talking about it since 2004! We were fairly certain it would be a success because Belfast is wonderful, and despite them having spent less time with our parents than we have with theirs, our identical childhoods would ensure all would be fine. And it was.

As if to affirm our theory, during the trip we found physical evidence that cemented it. Our arrival coincided with the delivery of a box of photos sent by my aunt to my mum for safe keeping. [Fascinating in itself, especially due to some ridiculously strong genes that I’ve inherited.] Perusing the photos was an amusing pre-dinner activity (thank you aunt for including more than one photo of me naked in a paddling pool), not least because of a few similarities that cropped up.

First of all, photos from my third birthday, featuring an incredible Postman Pat cake, baked by my mother just hours before she went into hospital to have my sister.

Liz's Postman Pat

The Kilvert sisters recalled a similar cake baked by their mother and a text was sent to obtain photographic evidence:

Upon seeing the photo, my mother exclaimed “But we had the same dress that Gill’s wearing!” The rest of the family murmured agreement, and we (well I) carried on sorting through the box of photos. One was identified by my sister as ‘the epitome of sisterhood’ – given the disgruntled look on my face in the presence of my younger sibling.

The epitome of sisterhood

And then we realised, the dress I was wearing was the very same dress mum had identified in the Kilvert photo (albeit with the collar a bit tucked up under my chin). Voila:

One could argue that it’s simply a coincidence that is likely to emerge from being born in similar years and brought up in the same culture, but I think the Clutterbucks and Kilverts would like to see it as a sign from heaven that our friendship was always meant to be!

Oh, and we had a pretty nifty time in Belfast too. Much cake was eaten (although, as my mother commented, we never ate a whole piece – preferring to divide all cakes between us!) and the best and worst of Irish weather experienced. As always, the time passed too quickly!

Plane selfieThree of #4gotoBelfast on board their flight.

Girls at the dockEnjoying Belfast’s ‘honesty box’ cafe – The Dock – and their red-hot heating!

Girls at CausewayAt the Giant’s Causeway the day they take the postcard photos…

Giants Causeway Panorama


When good neighbours become good friends

There is nothing like a trip down memory lane, or a memory cul de sac in this specific instance. There is also little that can compare to a nostalgic DVD boxset. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been indulging in both, via the re-discovery of Neighbours: Iconic Episodes Volume 1 (owned for a good few years) and the purchase of Neighbours: Defining Moments (purchased for £3.99 via Amazon). [I’d have bought Iconic Moments Volume 2 too, but at £11.99, it felt less of a justifiable impulse buy.]

Any self-respecting British child of the 1980s should understand why this was such a nostalgia-fest. I’m just a bit too young to have watched the show from the start, but my 8 year old self was caught up in the Charlene & Scott/Kylie & Jason bubble. [First album owned: Kylie’s Enjoy Yourself. Not ashamed of this.] I can tell you exactly where I was when Daphne died (my friend Frances’ house – I also caught nits that day) and when Kery died (my parents’ bedroom, via our black & white portable, with my mother’s cell group friends’ offspring) and, more recently, when Madge died (2nd year university house share, while eating a fishfinger sandwich). [Yes. My memory is stupidly good at remembering these utterly inconsequential details. It’s terrifying.]

The daily 1.45pm airing of Neighbours became my default lunchtime while I was a student (or on sick days). It was (still is, sometimes) a major reason for texts between me, my sister and our next-door neighbour [how apt!]. Neighbours was how we learned about Australia and many life events – such as the fact that everyone hit by cars will die, but not until they’ve had a rallying moment in which they can communicate an important detail to their nearby loved-one. Once I’d left home, it became a daily piece of comfort-blanket viewing.

In the last two weeks I’ve watched approximately 30 episodes. I’ve retreated to the perms of the 1980s and witnessed several meringue dominated weddings; there have been dramatic births (involving picnics, ice cream vans and stables); got excited about glimpses of now-successful Hollywood actors (Alan Dale, Guy Pearce & Jesse Spencer to name but a few); and hunted Wikipedia for information to fill in the gaps. Bliss.

There really is nothing like a jovial promotional photo…

So, if next time you see me I’m sporting a spiral perm, a pair of dungarees and raising my intonation at the end of each sentence, you’ll understand why…

And this is why I’m a loser at heart

I’m disappointed with my last post and have calmed down a tad since my stressful journey home. Now that I’ve eaten and chilled out a bit in my rather empty flat, (I’m minus a flatmate again, but that’s a story for another occasion – needless to say the word of the month is “trust”), I’m a lot happier.

As so often happens when I’m home alone, I’ve been doing some tuneful/less singing to myself and opened my itunes to hear a track that’s been one of my favourites since celebrating the Lord’s birthday in September. I’m almost ashamed to share the title of this track, which now resides at #1 on my most played list…you won’t have heard of it…ok…it’s: “I Believe my Heart”.

It’s a lesser known Lloyd-Webber track – from The Woman in White – which has been performed by Duncan James, hence my slight embarassment. But I do adore it. It’s probably just because it taps into the hopelessly romantic bit of my personality.

Anyway, I also felt a need for a new playlist so thought I’d let the genius tool work its magic and now have a wonderfully cheesy selection to listen to on the tube tomorrow. God bless genius!

Just felt a need to share some of the (50) gems it’s provided for me:

A Different Beat – Boyzone [Worryingly, my best performances at the gym lately have resulted from listening to the Boyz.]

Especially for You – Kylie & Jason [Incidentally, this song did wonders for my spelling when I was 8. “Especially” is a tricky word when you’re trying to write out the lyrics to your favourite song!]

Angel of Mine – Eternal [Have quite a story about this, but it’ll make me look even more of a loser than this post already does!]

Beyond the Sea – Will Young [Have I mentioned before just how much I love Will Young? Gosh, my loser rating is rocketing sky-high now…]

Jump (For my Love) – Girls Aloud [Note to self: must watch Love Actually again before Christmas]

Love in the First Degree – Bananarama [Gutted I’m missing the 80s night at church this weekend as I discovered last night some friends are doing a Bananarama tribute!]

Oh, I could sooooo go on. Suffice to say, I’m going to be grinning & giggling to myself a lot tomorrow. Actually, not tomorrow, today. And as it’s after midnight this can count as Nov 19th’s post! Whoop.

Overheard in the church toilets:

[I’m in a cubicle, listening to a conversation between a girl in another cubicle and one washing her hands.]

Girl 1: “Are you going to this 80’s night then?”

Girl 2: “Yeah, but I’m not really sure what to go as. You’re the 80’s baby, what do you think?”

Girl 1: “I don’t know, I was born in 1987, so I don’t really remember any of it. When were you born?”

Girl 2: “1990…”

Me: “You’ve both just made me feel very, very old.”

Here’s the thing, church is having an 80’s themed social, presumably chosen as a theme because it’s a decade most of us relate to. Did anyone else realise our latest intake of students are actually 90’s babies?

Anyone else feeling incredibly old?

The return of the Wispa

Cadburys have bowed to pressure from Facebook and have brought back the Wispa!

It was withdrawn in 2003 when the Dairy Milk Bubble replaced it – except it didn’t because it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good – which was a total travesty. Hence my (disproportionately) massive excitement when my friend Jo mentioned that she was eating one in her facebook status. A couple of wall posts and a dash to the nearest newsagents later, so was I.

Major excitement about a chocolate bar? It’s extremely sad, isn’t it?! Still, the wispa played a very important role in my childhood. (Actually, chocolate in general did, which would explain why I then had to abstain from it for 2 years as an adult!)

Aged 5, I discovered that my Dad’s desk chair was a lot of fun, my very own roundabout in the study. One day, just after I’d yelled “this is just like being at the dentist’s!”, I found myself thrown forwards onto his desk, burying my front teeth into the wood. The tooth marks are there to this day and within the hour I was at the dentist’s. All that happened was that my front teeth got a bit of a knock and were sensitive for a while, but I wasn’t happy eating with them and wouldn’t put anything in my mouth. My grandad, after a few days of this, suggested that I be challenged to bite down on a wispa, knowing that it was the right combination of solid/air to give me my confidence back – and it worked. I knew his paramedic training had its uses!

Anyway, wispas are great and are vastly superior to Aeros. Some useful (?) facts:

– Wispas were first launched in the Newcastle area in 1981 and were so popular that they launched nationally in 1983. The Newcastle Woolworths sold over 10,000 on the first day! 9.5 million were sold in the Newcastle area in the first week.
– There are around 14,000 wispa fans across 93 facebook groups (not sure if the people at Cadburys realise you can join more than one group!)
– The original size was scaled down, as it was thought the bar was too big for a ‘lady’ to fit in her mouth.
– Apparantly, the secret of wispa’s ‘unique’ texture & taste is guarded by a “bubble guru”. Whatever!