Mad Aunts and Gogglebox

I had a mad great Aunt. She was born with brain damage and lived in a fantasy version of reality. My Gran looked after her, but it was a reciprocal arrangement, my Aunt was much like a servant.
There were many cruel jokes made about her. My Dad and his brothers constantly teased and pranked her. But she maintained a cheery disposition, chewing on her tongue and smiling at everything.
She would fall down entire flights of stairs in their maisonette in Brixton, but unphased would pick herself up and carry on as if nothing had happened. She had the odd bruise, but I had it explained that she did not tense up as she fell, thus avoiding serious injury.
Often, as small kids, my sister and I would Aunt sit while the adults went to the pub. Technically she was baby sitting us, but that’s not how it seemed.
We were not scared of her. She gave us money, so we thought she was OK.
But once when the news came on she started shouting at the news reader. First it was like she was playing, “Dad,” she called him, “when are you coming home?”
But she became agitated and started crying out desperately, “Dad, please…!”
At first we laughed, we soon became scared.
Recently I have started watching Gogglebox, I find it funny but it brings back that early memory so vividly. Back then she was a one off. I am now wondering if her condition was infectious.


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