On Pa's side of the family, not only did we grow up with our great grandmother, Nannie (Nana's mum), we also spent a lot of time with our great-great uncle and great-great aunt, Uncle Dick and Aunt Mag. Spending time with family was always important in our house - every Thursday was Nana, Grandad and Nannie (Pa's ma, pa and gran), every Friday was Nana (Nurse Gladys) and, when we were little, Monday or Tuesday was the time to go and visit Aunt Mag and Uncle Dick.
We loved going there for two main reasons. Firstly, we got spoilt rotten (as we did at every other family household). Aunt Mag always had a box of Maltesers waiting for us and maybe of a box Animal Crackers, too. These would be happily consumed in front of episodes of Grandad with Clive Dunn or the dubbed masterpiece that is Monkey ("Aiieee, Tripitaka, it hurts, it hurts!"). The second reason was that Uncle Dick was one of us. He was a short man to begin with, just a little over five feet tall. Whether this contributed to his affinity with kids, I don't know but it did mean that he was pretty much physically incapable of looking down on us. He wore braces and (as seems to be common on either side of our family) sported a pair of dentures. These two items were a source of endless entertainment not only to Bro and myself but also to Uncle Dick himself (and a source of mild but affectionate exasperation to Aunt Mag).
The braces, then. One or both of us would sit on his knee, making his lap a fairly crowded place being that, as I said earlier, he was not a tall man. The little nod or wink of encouragement would than come from Uncle Dick after a quick glance to check that Aunt Mag wasn't watching. One or both braces would then be grasped in both hands and extended to full elasticity. They would then be released to snap back against the rounded tum of little Uncle Dick to exaggerated cries of "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!" This was always referred to as "pinging his braces" and always resulted in hilarity on our part. That is until the noise got too much and Aunt Mag would chastise him for encouraging us. Muttering "yes, dear, sorry, dear"s, Uncle Dick would quieten down. At least until he thought she'd forgotten and the little mischievous gleam in his eyes would return and he started nudging us and egging us on...
To Be Continued