So Kate Middleton’s uncle Gary is planning to write a book about his life and how he and his sister became millionaires by the age of thirty. Just the mere mention of Casa Bang Bang makes me cringe so my sympathies go out to her.
As Buckingham Palace goes into potential meltdown and Kate strides forth after a misinterpreted criticism by Hilary Mantel, perhaps a few words of consolation would help: ‘Join the club, Kate: we all have embarrassing uncles.’
In fact, more than twenty years on I still remember situations involving not one but two uncles which left me utterly mortified.
Uncle number one, who owns a large West London commercial property business, kindly employed me as an intern just after I had finished my A-levels. I was in that awkward position of being treated to lunches by my employer while the rest of his staff ate sandwiches at their desk and hearing too much office gossip while witnessing my uncle’s wrath when deals weren’t going well.
The summer passed easily enough until one big deal was completing with 24 hours left to close. High stress meant short fuses and when Charlie, one of the pinstripe chaps working on this big deal couldn’t be found, uncle blew a fuse. ‘Find Charlie!’ was the war cry. I lingered at the photocopier, feeding the A4 tray trying not to be noticed, for I had rather a soft spot for Charlie.
The emergence of the poor unwitting pinstriped chap from the loo prompted a loud and furious proclamation from the angry uncle who shouted across the open plan office, ‘Listen up everyone. Nobody, and I mean nobody, takes a crap on my time.’
POOR CHARLIE WENT as crimson as his socks and I was mortified, but this doesn’t compare to uncle number two, who had fallen on hard times and rather than selling his beloved Bentley chose instead to become a chauffeur touting for late night business outside Tramp, Stringfellows and Annabel’s.
This was acceptable enough and indeed enterprising until it transpired he had adopted the name Ron, started to speak in a Mockney accent and mixed with all sorts of shady characters with enough gold in their mouth to open a pawn shop.
I would encounter him as I emerged bleary-eyed onto Jermyn Street, so not only was I embarrassed at having to explain to my friends who he was but I had also been busted by Uncle Ron.
It turned out to be a cute uncle-niece bond. We both kept each other’s secret and he gave me a wink which said, Don’t worry, I won’t tell your mother you’ve been out till 3.30 on a Friday night when you told her you were staying with friends in the country.
Kate doesn’t need to worry: we can only sympathise with that familiar middle-class cringeing and wincing when a close relative is a little maladroit and embarrasses you to death.
I think it will make us love her all the more. As they say, you can’t choose your family and, anyway, plenty of Royals have gone to great lengths to embarrass themselves already, so really she’s in good company.
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