Unbeatable joy of younger sister

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When was the last time you laughed until you couldn’t breathe?

By the look of your moany-old face, I reckon it’s been a long, long time.

Working in the hollowed-out newspaper industry for the past 26 years, chuckles have been very few and far between, and especially thin on the ground in the past decade. Gallows humour? We’re experts on that.

World-weary cynicism? We wrote the manual. Bitter, hollow laughter? I think you get the picture.

No need to over-egg it. It’s a defence mechanism to get us through the horrors of the job. If we show genuine emotion then some of the terrible events we have to write about or edit will haunt us for the rest of our days. Laughing your head off when you’re clocked on is letting your guard down.

So when daughter #2 honked like a goose after she’d got one over on her big sister during the pettiest of arguments on one of the rare occasions when all four of us sat down to eat dinner together, it was like the first sunshine of spring after a never-ending winter (cue the intro to Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles, “Diddle-do-do…”).

Younger siblings, no matter how old, will be nodding along to that. There is no finer feeling when you’re a kid than putting your big brother or sister in their place. Food, water and sleep are unnecessary, your body runs on the power of self-satisfaction for about two days. If you think you’re your own fiercest critic then you’ve never had a big brother or sister.

Anyway, daughter #2’s laugh. It isn’t a conventional one, like “ha ha ha” or the tinkling of cutlery on a champagne flute to get everyone to pipe down before the best man’s speech. It’s more of a force of nature.

The only way to describe it is Sybil off Fawlty Towers coming up for air one last time before she drowns.

Our lunatic sighthound Walter is scared of only two things, the rustling of bin liners (God knows?) and a greyhound-saluki we know up the park who is the only dog we’ve ever seen who can outrun him. But even he did his puppy-dog-eyes act and slinked away backwards to the sanctuary of his bed when he heard that racket.