Our castle and our keep

black and white, two children aged 5 and 3 standing by letterbox outside a typical New Zealand house of the 1960s.

Big sister, little brother. Image: Leslie family archive.

I have two brothers; one two years younger than me, the other eight years.

My relationship with “the baby of the family” is strong, loving and straightforward. With my other brother, it’s more complicated.

As kids we were constant playmates, best friends. We share the same sense of humour and listened to the same music. But my mum was never good at hiding the fact she valued sons more highly than daughters (possibly because she’s the fourth sister of five) and as “The Firstborn Son” my brother was indulged to the point of becoming, for a while, a horrible little brat.

We’re in our fifties now, and the tide of our relationship has ebbed and flowed, washing away all but the bedrock. He’s my brother and I love him.

For a long time, music was a powerful bond between us, and since I am participating in Sarah’s 30 Days, 30 Songs project, I thought I’d sneak a bonus track into today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt | sibling.

In many ways, the best time for us as brother and sister was in the early 1980s, and there are so many songs from that time I could have chosen.

But this one’s fun, and it is about family.

The title of the post comes from the line:

Our house, was our castle and our keep
Our house, in the middle of our street


49 thoughts on “Our castle and our keep

  1. I have two brothers but they are both older than me and as the baby (girl) of the family I suppose I was ‘indulged’ especially by my father. Not so much my mother who was not a very demonstrative person. The younger brother and I used to clash terribly ‘fight like cat and dog’ was the expression used as soon as we clapped eyes on each other, but in my late teens, when I was travelling a lot, he was very proud of me and we became good friends from then on. He was also useful for introducing me to some of his friends who became boyfriends! Sadly he died in 2011 from Multiple sclerosis (MS) which he was diagnosed with at the age of 42 yrs. But he had the most wonderful sense of humour – think Eric Morecambe πŸ™‚

    Liked by 6 people

    • That is a huge loss. Anyone who can channel Eric Morecambe must have been pretty special!
      I think that our parents’ behaviour towards us as children — especially in relation to our siblings — has effects that carry down the years. My mother talked about treating us all equally while at the same time making excuses for middle child’s horrible behaviour — which went on well into his thirties.

      I remember being slightly envious of friends with older brothers and the pool of potential boyfriends their friends represented.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I read a poem once about siblings and I wish I could find it again. It basically said that our relationship with our siblings is the most important we will ever have because they are the witnesses to our life from the earliest age. Everyone else enters later (like spouses and friends) while others leave early (like parents).
    I’m not sure I buy into the whole premise, but there is some ring of truth there for many people. Although my siblings and I are not super close, we do have deep love and respect for each other. I find it sad that some families find that hard to do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’re right Joanne; sibling relationships are important, but the story is complicated by so many other things. I think that (maybe not so much now, but certainly in my generation and earlier) gender was also a huge factor. Although my parents wanted me to have a tertiary education, I think my mother still saw it as a means of acquiring a “better quality” husband, rather than a means of improving my own life. Whereas for my brothers, education was seen as a means of carrying them and their families out of the working class. Ironically, I’m the only one who went to university.
      I suspect my relationship with my brothers is like yours with your siblings, and I am happy with that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re so right about the gender thing. It was a bit challenging for those of us who broke with convention and left home to go to university. I was considered a ‘wild thing’ still unmarried in my mid-20s. The sigh of relief from my parents was almost audible when I finally married at 27. Now of course, that’s still considered young!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Although my older brother and I were always fighting as kids, we were also allies and as adults, very good friends Losing him (cancer) was the hardest loss for me along with my mother. Treasure those relationships as long as you have them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have 3 brothers and 1 sister with myself being the oldest. All born within 7 years! Families are complicated groups no matter how good they are, relationships change all the time. Having no children myself and Les are experts on children πŸ™‚
    We do come together to support each other when we need to in hard and good times, even though at times we can’t stand each other. After all, we are family.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great song. And I love the photo. Being a middle child, I love both my older brother and my younger sister with equal intensity. πŸ˜€ Love doesn’t mean you always agree with siblings or family but it helps build tolerance and understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I grew up with a sister which means I was quite shocked to find when I went out into the big world that sons were often preferred. I did wonder if my mum and dad might have liked a son, but when my nieces were expected, both times they were hoping for girls. I’m grateful for that affirmation!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I unfortunately was not able to listen to the song. This is the message I got: This video contains content from UMG, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds. Too bad. I did enjoy reading all the comments though. Thanks for sharing such personal feelings about your parents and siblings. Yep, families are complicated sometimes. Let’s just say that I am in a similar situation with my older brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ☹️ I hate when that happens. Sarah has it a lot with copyright laws in Germany.
      I think a lot of us feel we should have perfect t families, but in reality I know almost no-one who doesn’t experience tensions. I guess it’s all about how we choose to handle them.
      Wishing you a great weekend β€” though it probably seems a bit early for you, it’s a wet Friday afternoon here and I’m already in wind-down mode.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s raining over here too, and a little bit cold. It does not fell like June at all. Hoping it will get warmer on Friday.
        You are right Sue. It’s all about how we deal with the tensions. It’s pretty hard though when the brother you love has drug problems but he does not want any help.
        Have a beautiful and creative weekend with some ME time and sunshine!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I hope you get some summer weather soon. It is winter here, and so far it has been mild so I am not complaining.
          It is very difficult to deal with someone who does not want help, however destructive their behaviour. Thank goodness for friends β€” the whanau that we choose.
          BTW: Whanau is a Maori word for family that is very inclusive and in no way tied to biological or legal family. I use it a lot to describe those who feel like family to me πŸ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s weird, my mum says the same about her siblings, especially about her brother being the favourite child. I wonder if things would be different had she been born now instead of then?
    I’m an only child (apart from a halfbrother I don’t know) so was a spoiled kid per se. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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