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An Unlikely Pair - 1

1.

Jacqueline Anne Hepworth was born in Lancaster Royal Infirmary at 11.54pm on August 31st 1958, to her proud parents Cyril and Hilary.  They had been trying for some time to conceive a child and were thrilled to have finally succeeded.  Hilary’s pregnancy had represented a triumph over failure and they had made plans to make their only born child the rightful centre of their world.  They looked forward to spoiling the child over the years and growing themselves a fine, upstanding citizen.  She was their little miracle, and they loved her instantly. 

            Using this logic, the surprise arrival of a second child only fifteen minutes later should have made them feel truly blessed.  But when Hilary continued with her contractions the moment her daughter had been born, it was with a sense of being cheated.  There had been no talk of twins throughout the pregnancy, and neither Cyril nor Hilary was particularly happy with the surprise. 

            In his confusion, Cyril blamed Hilary.  He couldn’t help but think that she must have somehow known, and that he had been tricked into having two children, instead of the one that he had craved.  He gave the impression outwardly that he was thrilled to have been gifted a second child so unexpectedly, but he also worried about the financial aspect of having twins, which made him an agitated and quite often angry new father.

            Hilary resented Cyril’s resentment.  She would be in charge of the raising of the girls, and her workload had effectively been doubled with no notice.  She didn’t like being thought of as deceitful, and she could tell from the way Cyril regarded her suspiciously that this was precisely his interpretation. 

 

            Wordlessly they had made a distinction between the two children.  As Jacqueline had been born first, she was the expected child.  The second daughter, only by fifteen minutes, was the unplanned for spanner in the works.

            They named their second-born Anne Hepworth.  They had decided on only one boy’s name and one girl’s name, so they gave Anne her slightly older sister’s middle name rather than think up a whole new one. 

            This was the first thing that Anne grew to resent about her childhood. 

            Jacqueline didn’t detect any favouritism going on in her formative years, but of course that may be because she benefited from it.  She remembers being treated like twins.  They were dressed the same, given similar presents on birthdays and at Christmas, and they went to the same school as each other. 

            On the contrary, Anne felt that her parents had a different way of looking at her. There was a certain kindness that Anne saw in them, but it was only ever directed to her sister.  Anne remembers always feeling like she had done something wrong, but never having what explained to her.

 

It really is hard to tell whether adults can remember their early years with any accuracy.  As with all personal history, it is replayed and twisted with rehearsal.  If it were all about glances and tones, then it would be easy to say that Anne was taking the easy route by blaming her childhood for the way she turned out.  But from the age of five, society conspired to place the Hepworth twins in chronological order.

            Many people had commented on how unusual it was for a couple to have twins with different birthdays, and it was only lack of foresight on Cyril and Hilary’s part that prevented them from seeing it as anything but a neat little quirk.  Shortly after the girls turned four, their parents started to look at the local schools.  They went to an open evening at nearby Appleby Road Primary School with both of their daughters.

            Upon seeing nearly identical twins, one of the teachers from the school approached the family and enquired about them.  “Twins, hey?  They’ll be the stars of any class they join.  Fascinating isn’t it?  Who is the eldest?”

            “Jacqueline here,” Cyril answered, with what Anne perceived to be a disproportionate amount of pride.  “By fifteen minutes.  She was born on the last day of August, whilst this one here came along on the first day of September.  Just.”

            “Oh, that is unfortunate,” the teacher said to Anne.  “You won’t be joining us for another year.”

            It wasn’t something that either Hilary or Cyril had considered.  Anne couldn’t blame them for that.  She would instead blame them for not trying to do anything about it.  They accepted that this was the way the system worked, and that it was a little bit unfortunate, but by no means disastrous.

Anne couldn’t understand why her sister got to go and discover this whole new world whilst she had to stay behind at home.  Each day Jacqueline came home from school with new stories about friends she was making and things that she was doing.  Hilary was at home with Anne and therefore knew everything that she had been doing.  There was no need to show any interest in her life.  This was the beginning of a year long advantage that Anne felt her slightly older sister held over her.

            Cyril would read through books with Jacqueline and test her on the things that she had learned, something which he purposely excluded Anne from.  “You should wait until it’s your turn to start.  You don’t want the other kids thinking you’re cleverer than you are.” 



              By the time it came for Anne to start school, she felt it had been done to death.  “Oh yes, Jacqueline did that last year,” became a sentence of recognition that Anne grew to despise.  They knew who her teacher was because she had been Jacqueline’s teacher the year before.  They knew which books she would be reading and how educated she should be by the end of the year.  Hers seemed to be a life of no surprises. 

            It isn’t uncommon for younger siblings to feel like they are doing nothing but following in the footsteps of their older brothers or sisters, but not many would have to carry this weight with the sense of injustice that Anne did.  She had been nine minutes off having the same chances as her sister, but instead she was always one year behind.  Explaining that life is sometimes unfair to a five year old is not easy, if at all possible.

    Anyone who remembers Anne from when she started at Appleby Road Primary School will recall a surly young girl.  School turned out to be a disappointment to her in almost every way.  A pecking order amongst children soon develops, and even at such a young age, the stigma of which year you’re in is a salient enough boundary.  Jacqueline couldn’t hang out with her slightly younger sister because she was in the year below, and thus Anne was something of a subordinate to her.           

    Being rejected by her slightly older sister upset Anne a lot, and she cried many times during her first weeks at primary school.  All of the other children in the reception class were making new friends and playing games whilst Anne sat miserable and stand-offish.  Her classmates gave her a wide berth; the sad looking girl didn’t figure in their plans to have fun and play as much as possible.   

            Even though teachers knew that they were twins, they were prone to referring to Anne as Jacqueline Hepworth’s younger sister.  Anne couldn’t help but feel inferior.  When she reached the heady heights of the last year of infants, Jacqueline was off experiencing the first year of juniors.  For her last year Anne was officially the oldest girl in the school, but this was tempered by the knowledge that her sister had moved on to an infinitesimal amount of new experiences at high school.

            Anne arrived at Hill Crest Comprehensive School already a victim of the rumour-mill.  Word had been spread that Jacqueline Hepworth had a slow twin sister, who had been held back in primary school until she had learned how to hold a pen properly.  Jacqueline had heard this a few times and made attempts to deny the rumours, but as a rule, the school children were more inclined to believe the tittle-tattle.  “We admire your loyalty,” they said to her before walking away giggling and making imitations of someone struggling to hold a pen properly.

            Even when the rumour faded and Anne tried to establish herself in her own right, people were always a little suspicious of the girl in the year below her twin sister. 


There was no way for Jacqueline and Anne to be friends at high school, either.  By the time Anne arrived at Hill Crest, her slightly older sister was already popular and fully involved.  She had taken on a minor role in the school play in the first year, and as such was a recognisable face around the school.

            Anne, then, was the identical face of the recognisable face around school.  Along with the rumours of her apparent ‘slowness,’ she also had to put up with people saying hello to her when they really thought it was her sister.  On the first couple of occasions this had happened, she had raised her hopes and believed that people might just want to know her, but this was quickly dispelled.  Soon, Anne moved around the school hoping that people didn’t try and say hello, just to save her any further embarrassment.

            Jacqueline’s peers were a year older than Anne’s, and feigned indifference when Jacqueline attempted brief introductions.  There was nothing Jacqueline could do beyond that, for she was concerned that people may turn against her.  Anne struggled to step out of the shadow of her slightly older sister, who was forever doing everything first.

            First boyfriend, first kiss, first cigarette, first school award; there was nothing new to explore for the slightly younger sister.  It didn’t help that Jacqueline was scoring top grades in most of her subjects, so when Anne appeared in the same classes the next year, her less than brilliant progress could only result in disappointment.  Anne’s attitude was lethargic at best, but it’s hard to say which came first. Some teachers felt that she was fazed by her slightly older sister’s successes, whereas others said that she just wasn’t as naturally brilliant.  Whichever way they looked at it, they couldn’t help but compare the sisters.

            Jacqueline was showing great promise in drama as well as general academia.  It happens with most siblings in one way or another, but with twins – and identical ones at that – people are more alarmed if the similarities aren’t there.  It was hard for most people to imagine that they could have different personalities, and so when people first met her, their first impression was that Anne was a bit more unpleasant than her slightly older sister.

            By the time puberty kicked in Anne felt the urge to rebel quite severely.  Everyone, herself included, considered her to be a second-rate version of Jacqueline. It dawned on her that if she were to be anything but Jacqueline Hepworth’s disappointing shadow, then she would have to make some fundamental differences appear between them.

            Every decision Anne made from the age of thirteen was deliberately executed make her the exact opposite of her slightly older sister.

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