The most important speech I ever wrote

Yesterday I had a day off. I went to a Team Day at work, so Hubs manfully stepped up and looked after Archie all day. They looked at Lego (I got sent a picture), they watched Finding Nemo (I got sent a picture) they rolled around on the floor, got food everywhere and had a boys bonding time. As I’m being a Lady What Lunches on Sunday, they’ll get to do it all again then too.

In one of the workshop sessions, I had to present our findings to the group, (read Company). I had to present to people I hadn’t really seen in 8 months, including a fair few who had started since I left to go out on leave, but luckily it was about a subject that I’m passionate about, Communication. As I’m still getting over the remnants of Baby Brain, I was nervous about how I would be over the whole day. Sometimes I barely can string a sentence together, most famously making the internationally known ‘scissor’ action as I couldn’t remember what they were called, to much hilarity from Hubs. But, I needn’t have worried. I spoke firmly, passionately, clearly and presented a précis of what we’d talked about to everyone. The grin on the boss’s face as I finished said a lot. And over lunch, being complimented on how well I was doing was humbling, gratifying and also an ego-boost.

It put me in mind about other times I’ve spoken in public, as did a question from a friend. Her Grandfather passed away yesterday and she wants to speak at his funeral, unsure of where to start, she asked in our forum how to get going. I said that when I was best (wo)man at my brother’s wedding, a sentence came into my head and off I went from there. I wrote from my heart and the speech just flowed from me. I’ve been meaning to post it up here again, today seemed a good day to raise a glass to my little brother. Heaven knows I miss him. He and his lovely wife are expecting another baby this year, watching his daughter grow up via Skype isn’t easy, but I’m sure it’s not for him either watching Archie.

Here’s an excerpt.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with both great pleasure and an awful lot of carbon off-set air-miles I stand in front of you today.  For those who don’t know me, I am P’s sister, Lily.

As best woman, I need to make a speech.  Being a Smith, I’ve done my research, I’ve read a book, I’ve made notes, being a Lily I even made a list, being my brother’s sister I completely ignored most of what was in the books and wrote what I wanted to anyway. 

In all my years on this planet, I have never met anybody as bloody minded or as stubborn as my family; while that can be a good thing, we are aware it is also annoying, so we apologise en masse, now and in public, once and for all.  To give you an example, would hold his mouth open when he was interrupted as a child, then finish his sentence from where he left off as if nothing had happened, no matter if the conversation had moved on or not, or if it was 10 minutes later – he was going to finish his sentence. 

P and I didn’t have an easy relationship growing up; in fact some of the things I said and did to him make me feel ashamed now when I think of them.  Luckily he has a big heart and appears to have forgiven me for them!

But when he was born, before he grew into the annoying lump he now is, apparently I was besotted with him.  To show him how much I thought of him, I gave P one of my most precious toys; a rag doll that I’d called Love, my Dad’s name for me, which P wore away.  Literally, rubbing the fabric of her dress against his cheek for hours on end until only a patch of fabric remained, that he then clutched in his fist.  She went with him everywhere, even to a fancy dress party where he was dressed as Superman: a super hero with a most unusual side-kick.

He was my partner in crime, sharing in laughs, scrapes, games and tantrums.  Always buying Old Kent Road and Whitechapel Road in Monopoly, content to pile on hotels, waiting patiently for us to ‘pass go’ and hand over most of our £200 with a quiet, self satisfied smile on his face.  We shared library books, played hours of domino games, beetle with Granny, coloured in doilies with Nanny and messed about in Granddad’s woodshed, built a Lego castle that was so precious to him, Christmas effectively stopped that year as all 4 of us tried to get it assembled before our visitors arrived.  As we were children of the 80s, Star Wars toys were also all the rage in our house, while we never did find Yoda’s little cape again after we de-nuded the poor Jedi, we found random tiny guns in the carpet for years afterwards.  We’d play for hours on an upturned table, our imaginations taking us across seas to lands we made up in our heads, with Mum’s green cape for grass, the stairs for hills and the landing for wherever we needed to travel to get the game done.

That same Lego castle came with lots of soldiers, one day we decided to make a shop, and sold things on it to everyone who had the misfortune of coming to visit.  Mostly grapefruit, as those poor soldiers had their heads ripped off mercilessly to stock our greengrocer section.  We played through slats on the backs of our chairs with a Post Office set.  He also ruined my best ever toy, the little green tree where the roof lifted up to reveal a house, because he got the father of the family stuck in the lift.  That was a sad day at Thalassa I can tell you, but not as sad as the one where chasing after me he fell over and ended up with a crater missing from his knee.

 He wanted to drive a septic tank; he fell for the Chinese Levitation trick, he thought the bird scarers were shooting at him when we went to pick our own berries, because if you tell him something – P will believe you.  Because of his big heart, because of his trust in the world and the trust he has in his friends is complete.  He is one of the most loving, sincere and good men that I know, and I am marrying another one later this year.

P and I have come a long way from wrecking each other’s toys.  Through all the arguing, tears and sheer red rage, Mum and Dad kept saying ‘You know you two are going to end up really good friends one day!’ We’d look at each other and recoil with horror at the thought.  But you know what, we are.  There is only one person in this world, who had they said to me last year, ‘Don’t go’.  I wouldn’t have gone to Melbourne, and it is you.  My little brother, the Yin to my Yang, you are everything I am not, but we complement each other, and I think we are a credit to our parents who celebrate 40 years of marriage tomorrow.  We may not have always seen eye to eye – but we have always, always seen soul to soul.   I am so proud of you for so many things, not least working so hard to get your first, but your scones, your humour, your writing skills, your god-damned photograph memory, the whole kit and caboodle that makes you my little brother that stands over me.  And I am also proud that you asked me to stand here with you today, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.


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