It's another perfect picture for the Gardner family album...
Goodness knows what's going on with my ears. I look like Charles Clarke after a stomach stapling. And those horizontal stripes are doing me no favours. People are going to think I'm wearing a rubber ring. But other than that, it's a lovely photo. I might frame it for Mother's Day.
Anyhoo, when I'm not modelling myself on Fungus the Bogeyman (left), I've been visiting various relatives in the far east. That's the far east of Sussex. Pictured above are Lisa (no relation), Big Sis and Niece M. Absent are Amelie and her two primary carers, my Mum and Dad. They were busy congregating around a nappy in another room, so we left them to it and got on with the photos.
We were all gathered in St Leonards yesterday to celebrate the fact that Big Sis has been spared jail yet again. At least that's what it felt like. As it happens, Sis has just been on a half-day 'Speed Awareness' course, after being caught doing 36mph in a 30mph limit. Which in Brown's broken Britain is as close as you can get to a hanging offence. She was offered the choice of either three points on her licence and a public flogging, or the chance to eat sandwiches all morning at a Hilton hotel with a bunch of fellow road-hogs. She chose the latter.
Anyway, I'm not saying Sis has come back a changed person - let's face it, if the road to Damascus has a speed limit, she'd probably break it - but she did seem quite evangelical about the whole thing. Frankly she could talk about nothing else all day. By teatime I felt like I'd done the course twice myself. In fact, she kept us talking for so long that I had to drive home at 80mph just to get back in time for All Star Mr & Mrs.
When I say that Sis could talk about nothing but Speed Awareness all day, I am of course joking. She also spent a lot of time raving about Glee. I even had to sit through a rendition of the show's latest single which Sis had downloaded onto her iPhone. Frankly I got more adult conversation from my ten-year-old niece. Or I would have done if she wasn't a massive Glee fan too. I ended up talking to Amelie.
But the best thing about family reunions is that they give you the chance to bond with your nearest and dearest. And sure enough, nothing brings a family closer together than taking a few photos in the bedroom, suggesting a quick game of volleyball, and then watching your sister smash a light bulb with an inflatable beach ball and short out half the lights in your parents' bungalow. As I said to Sis as we stumbled about in the dark, trying to pick up fragments of broken glass before the red-hot filament burnt a hole in the carpet: speed awareness or no speed awareness, we both need to make a quick getaway.