My little sister stayed with me on Sunday. ‘I’m going to put you in the guest room,’ I tell her. ‘It’s so nice in there.’ I try to imply that her stay in the guest room is an honour, rather than a punishment. It’s not. It’s because my sister has a very particular yet incurable disease. I like to think of it as reverse Mary Poppinism. Let me explain. You know how Mary Poppins has an enormous bag so all her things can be neatly stored away?
And how she has magic powers which enable her to tidy a room brilliantly? My little sister has the exact opposite qualities. She has what my Mother terms ‘bag vomit’, which means that wherever she is, the contents of her bags lurch out of their container in a manic bid for freedom.
She also has the ability to turn a just tidied room into a toxic waste site. It is safer for everyone if we do not share a room.
‘Oh,’ My little sister replies. ‘But, we can still hang out before we go to sleep, right?’ ‘Of course,’ I say magnanimously. I pop to the toilet. My little sister upends the contents of her bags onto my bedroom floor.
I return to the toilet, and remain there for several minutes, breathing deeply and humming to myself ‘A spoonful of sugar’. ‘I thought we agreed you were going to sleep in the spare room?’ I ask my little sister, who is now ensconced on the desk chair I want to sit at. ‘Of course,’ My little sister replies cheerfully. ‘Ooh,’ She says, picking up a squidgy banana the nice chaps at Go Ape sent me. ‘Can I have this?’ ‘Certainly not,’ I reply crossly. I potter around organizing some of my stuff. ‘Lucy!’ My little sister says suddenly. ‘Guess where I’ve hidden the banana!’ I can sing songs from ‘Mary Poppins’ as well as anyone, but it’s going to take a little more than a ‘spoonful of sugar’ to help this medicine go down.