In the meantime, I have progressed comparably throughout the course of my own adult life albeit without the facial hairthough he, like me, wouldn't know this directly but rather secondhand, our respective lives separated by the Atlantic ocean and an altogether different kind of divide that, I think I can now confidently predict, shall never be breached again.
While this is an admittedly regrettable state of affairs, two grown men incapable of behaving like, well, two grown men, it isn't a particularly unusual one.
Sibling rivalry is as old as the hills, and you need only alight upon Brothers getting it in Kyle of a weekday morning — or the films of Mike Leigh, come to that — to be reminded that familial strife of some kind is, if not quite mandatory, then at the very least expected of us all.
A recent story in Psychology Today suggests that more than a third of us have a distant relationship with our brothers or sisters as adults because of a childhood rivalry that never fully dissipated, while any hopes of an ultimately long-term ceasefire tends to arrive only in our dotage, when all the fight has finally deserted us. Well, there are answers to that question.
The overriding one, it seems, is that the arrival of a younger sibling very often brings with it a brand new sensation for the elder: This is, after all, the point at which we, the senior, learn that life isn't fair after all, and very likely won't be ever again.
A potential usurper has arrived; cunning is required. Jonathan Self, the older brother of the writer Will, knows the feeling well. He explains that his parents considered their younger son a genius by the age of three, and that theirs was a family that prized intellect above all else.
Will did have an unusually smart mind. If their rivalry continued into adulthood it was largely because both shared similar ambitions: But Will was, baldly, by far the better writer, prompting Jonathan to give up on his dream he eventually turned to the world of business.
Brothers getting it in 51, and with three children to Will's four, they enjoy a mostly harmonious relationship these days, specifically, he suggests, because of the children. We know that it really upsets our children if he and I fight, and so we don't, mostly.
If they see us not getting on, then it is effectively like saying it's OK to give up on your brother. And neither of us wants that," says Jonathan. Instead, we were poles apart, so comprehensively different in character and temperament that we could rarely find common ground.