B-I-Ls - the Disney brothers you yearned for yours to be

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This weekend, I discovered the joys of brothers-in-law.

Bloke’s baby bros came to stay – one all the way from India, the other from deepest, darkest Surrey. At this probably never to be repeated, one night only event I was the only female present and it was a joy to have them all to myself.

Brothers-in-law are like brothers, only not. The proper-real ones are all well and good, but there are times when you love them in spite of themselves.

It’s only natural. You shared bathwater, vests, bedrooms, parents... You know their habits, insecurities, foibles. You adore them, but the things that irritate you about them are myriad.

With brothers-in-law, there’s no back-history of squabbles and fisticuffs. They are actually NICE to you. Respectful. They are the scrubbed-up, Disney version of brothers you used to go to bed praying for Jesus to transform yours into.

As a consequence, you can be the Enid Blyton-style sister you secretly wished you could be because these boys don’t know how irritating you really are, either.

In addition, it provided another window on the man I married five years ago. I met the husband when he was 42 and almost grown up. For the most part, he had worked through his immaturities and was on the verge of manhood.

But in the presence of his younger siblings, he became 11 again. They all did actually. Watching them was like viewing the Dangerous Book For Boys in flicker-book form.

Relentlessly, joyfully, and thoroughly egged on by wine and whisky, they verbally ripped each other apart. Each gave as good as they got and by bedtime, they were metaphorically stripped bare, every single achievement of adult life torn from them by the only men capable of the task.

I have never seen my husband do this to anyone. Or so skilfully parry the cutting blows he was dealt. A whole new side of him, revealed. Particularly as the B-I-Ls fell over themselves to confirm all the things that irk, puzzle, confuse or annoy me about their brother have been there since he was knee-high. “He does this,” I’d say. “He said that...” to a chorus of guffaws, knowing nods and advice on how to deal with him. Which, invariably, involved either shooting him down in flames or riding roughshod over his protesting form.

It was good to know I’d been on the right lines.