Dubai: Talking in secret languages, playing pranks on shopkeepers and sitting each other’s exams at school; oh the mysterious and intriguing life of a twin.
Forgive me for bursting a bubble — being one of two peas in a pod isn’t always like that. In fact, most of the time, it is absolutely nothing like that. If my twin brother and I stood in front of you in a line-up of 10 randomly selected people, I would happily hand you Dh100 if you picked out us as the set.
My twin Billy is a 5ft 10in barrel-chested fellow whereas I am 6ft 5in with an athletic build. He looks just like our dad, whereas I am the spitting image of our maternal grandfather at my age.
But the differences don’t stop at the physical; we are so polar in personality that it is astounding we are related at all. My twin is so laid-back he could be a limbo dancer, whereas I could pick an argument on the moon. I moved to Dubai, 3000 miles away from my northern England roots, while he settled in our home town (he doesn’t even own a passport). He is a family man with a little girl and another on the way, I am a bachelor. I play sport, he watches it. He likes eating eggs, I hate them. You get the idea.
Our only ‘twin thing’ moment was when I plucked a playing card from the pack and stared at it, concentrating with all my might. To my amazement, he said “the seven of clubs”, the very card I held. We never tried again; why spoil a perfect record?
Growing up, I would yearn for us to be identical twins (two of me, naturally). What joy to have a second you to share your greatest joys and deepest fears. And how fascinating it would be to look at yourself from 360 degrees.
But as I got older, I realised being identical would not be all I thought it would be. Imagine always being thought of as one of a pair, having your name mixed up, never truly being an individual. It is because of our differences that my brother and I now get on so well.
Though I might get on with him even more if he had sat my exams for me …