My family, the Cookie Monster and other animals

If you are or have been in a long term relationship you will have inherited a new family. Of course the intimate relations you will have been familiarly acquainted with, but there are also the sorts of people who appear at a wedding/elderly relatives birthday/funeral that you ask the best man/carer/usher to escort from the building, only to hastily call him back when you glimpse your mother-in-law embracing them. They may come in mustard tail-coats with equally vulgar brown top-hats, gaudy psychedelic dresses, purple outfits with pink hats. By their doings, you will know them.

I quite enjoy eccentric relations. During my childhood I had a fiercely low-church Christian great-uncle who had me convinced that he went to school with Darth Vader. This is before I knew he was Luke's father, Darth Vader that is. I was sold on the 'fact' he had worn a big black cape. The great-grandmother of  school friend of mine once put the cat on her head and went for a wander in the street. Whether she mistook it for a hat or  just fancied wearing the cat is down to history now.

What started me along this nostalgic train of thought was a visit to the in-laws last week. Haley's niece lives with her sister and parents. I say lives with, she rules the house with a rod of iron, the same way all 5 year old girls from South Wales do. No-one is permitted to sit, stand, cough, speak, eat a chocolate biscuit, or engage in a long and uninteresting story about using the computer at work. Actually the last one of these is a blessed relief. The rest of it gives me a glimpse of what my lovely wife was like when she was 5, and my mum, and my sister....

Haley's dad walks into the room and gives Haley's mum an affectionate thump on the arm, and looks lovingly into her eyes as he whispers the sweet words "Shut up, you twat". And with a rakish chuckle he returns to the live darts coverage.

Haley's niece has learnt the most important lesson for life in Barry: how to give a really dirty look. She is quite conversational too. Despite that she came home from school recently and said "Nursery is a c**t" - it wasn't coat. She has a very cute habit of speaking in the third person:

"Me would like milk"
"Me want to watch TV"
"Me like cookies"
I suspect she is turning into the Cookie Monster. Last year she became obsessed with Doctor Who and decided she would dress up as a Dalek. Not a dalek solider. Not the Emperor Dalek. The pink Princess Dalek. I was very proud.

Everyone has a slightly strange auntie who drinks to much at family gatherings and dances in the middle of the street on the way home, or an uncle who smells of lineament and insists on having a kiss and rubbing his stubble on your cheek, even when you are over thirty. I pray that it will never become me, but I know that I can be pretty loud and more than slightly embarrassing already.

My side of the family had better watch this space. I have reams of stories about them.

Here is the mandatory family photo in front of the tree - just to prove how sane we are: