Jenni Murray: The lifelong pain of being a ‘lonely only’

by on April 9, 2013

in Articles

As it’s revealed one-child families will soon be the norm, JENNI MURRAY mourns the sibling she never had.

By Jenni Murray

His name is David Robert and he’s my baby brother. He was born only last night. This was my boast to the school dinner ladies.

But the truth was that I didn’t have a baby brother — a lie that was humiliatingly revealed when my mother turned up to a school function that night and was teased for having a pregnancy that had never shown.

The next day I faced the full force of her fury. I was smacked for telling such a whopper, denied a month’s pocket money and grounded for two weeks (child psychology in Barnsley was, I fear, in its infancy in the Fifties). 

But the truth was, at the age of seven, I desperately wanted a brother (David Robert was the name I would have been given had I been a boy) or any sibling for that matter.

I was an only child. A very much loved and precious child, but an only child nonetheless. To this day I wish little David Robert had been real.

I was reminded of my status as a ‘lonely only’ this week when the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that nearly half of families in Britain have just one child.

The number of one-child families has increased by almost 700,000 in 15 years and they are likely to be in the majority within a decade.

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