I don't usually mention my family online, mostly because they're such appalling gargoyles that you'd think I made them up. But today, an exception, as my third sister (I'm one of six, four of them girls) has spawned offspring, the first of my generation to do so. Apparently that's not enough though, and my sister-in-law is having a child in August too. Let's hope that will be an end to all this procreation.
Anyway, the appearance of smaller version of my siblings and their beloveds means that I'm an uncle, even though nobody asked me to sign a consent form or anything. The question is, what sort of uncle to be? Obviously there are some basic characteristics: cool, relaxed, friendly, generous, but surely there's more to it? The ultimate prize of course would to be the uncle about which people shrug and sigh when I'm mentioned at family gatherings to which I'm not invited.
Of the role models available to me, the family tends towards 'eccentric'. There's the nearly-priest turned Tory councillor who campaigns for bigger nuclear weapons. There's the one who has a massive violent dog and keeps finding his dead mother's sports cars buried in the garden. They and the 'normal' ones and those misguided enough to marry into the clan are all, to be fair, lovely people who add to life's rich tapestry. Indeed, one of them who occasionally reads this journal opened the conversation with me at my sister's wedding with 'I'd like to abolish the NHS', which made me laugh a lot and was a damn sight more entertaining than the 'doesn't she look lovely?' phatic conversations.
So, unclehood (uncledom?). I don't need to lavish cash and gifts on this one: he's already far richer than I'll ever be. As far as I can see, the options are 'embarrassing', 'distant' and 'funny'. The thinking so far is that I'll appear at random moments bearing weird books, extreme opinions and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci albums. Later on, I'll supplement these things with jazz cigarettes and gin. I know this is the right thing to do because the first alcoholic drink I had was gin and tonic, provided over lunch in copious quantities by an aunt, an hour before a university interview. It went swimmingly.
Being a bookish type, my other option for uncle role models is by turning to literature. Thankfully, the Guardian has listed the ten best wicked uncles: Hamlet's ambitious Uncle Claudius appeals, but the effort involved is far too much. If the children are annoying, I'll follow Ebenezer from Kidnapped, and sell them into slavery (i.e. to a major supermarket's 'work experience' scheme). Then there's always Uncle Vernon (and several of the Black family) from the Harry Potter series. Or Scrooge McDuck (I assume that he has Huey, Dewey and Louie after their parents ended up à l'orange. In real life, there's also Richard III, though I'm not sure my nieces and nephews will actually stand in the way of my ascent to power and therefore probably won't require murdering in the Tower. Actually, I'm hoping they'll be nice, cool kids. And of course the sorry tale of Emperor Tiberius, who murdered his popular nephew Germanicus. Rather stupidly, he then adopted Germanicus's young son. His name was Caligula, who promptly murdered Tiberius and then embarked on a reign of terror. What a role model.
Your suggestions of uncle role models?