You'll have heard a lot about Hurricane Irene over the past few days. Well, I have been witness to another force of nature. Sam's siblings.
Sam has three little sisters. And when you get the four of them together, the resulting storm has been reported to result in any of the following... broken ankles, raucous dance routines, bitch-slapping, cat fights, out-grossing (generally involves bogeys) and overnight incarceration for parasol theft. Actually, the last one is just Sam, but that's a story for another day.
Life has been a little calmer since eldest sister Annie went down to Brighton to unleash her loudness on the Southern people. But this weekend she was back, like T2 ...but in Yorkshire. And without a motorbike.
ELDEST: "Come with me if you want to live"
The locals were quaking in their boots. Four siblings, cousin, step-brother and new sister-in-law (yours truly) plus numerous friends and hangers-on descended upon the neon lights of Wakefield. Wakefield is known for many things. Unfortunately the stuff that sticks in most people's mind is its starring appearance on Banged Up Booze Cop Nation Caught On Camera, and being home to hair extensioned, triple false lashed heroine Chloe Mafia.
The last train was forgotten as we barrelled around town (including a pit-stop in a dubious club with topless men playing tambourines on the bar) supping well over our monthly unit allowance, shouting very loudly and generally being swept up with The Power of Smyth.
YOUNGEST: "Me? Unleash the Power Of Smyth?"
What is the power of Smyth? The power to perform rap challenges on command? The power to offend without being punched? The power to take over an entire pub using only the volume of your collective voice?
(l-r) MIDDLE + MIDDLE'S BF + DEFINITELY NOT DRUNK NEW IN-LAW at notorious drag bar "Fanny & Bacardis"
It is all of the above and more... it is the power of family. Four years ago I found this group of people so overwhelming I didn't know how to act or be. Now I realise I just need to be myself, and that is more than good enough for them. I have been initiated. I am in the club.
I am so lucky to have such brilliant in-laws, I know not everybody falls on their feet like I have with the Smyth sisters. Just like Sam, they're off the wall and sometimes wholly inappropriate, but you know if you're ever in a spot they'll be there in less than a split second, ready to wade in and fight your corner.
Anyway, I'm not the newbie these days.... eldest has finally found a lovely boy, a fast-talking Geordie who -just about- managed to keep up with the runaway sibling crazy-train. Saturday night was HIS initiation into the crew. And he made it out alive.
In fact, something tells me he will fit in just fine.
(l-r) NEWBIE, ELDEST, AND THAT MIGHT JUST BE ME....