So, did I ever tell you about my Auntie Hero? She was my aunt. And it's true, she was only an aunt, but she always strove to be a great-aunt. She was practicing her auntcraft until she could be the ideal auntie-hero, and already I found her at the centre of every strange story. If there was ever someone who could make you feel like you were helplessly lost in the middle of a children's book from the nineteen-fifties, it was Auntie Hero.
Well, Auntie Hero lived in a ramshackle house with my Uncle Stan. That was what they called him, because that's where he came from: Unclestan is the most avuncular country in the world. Everyone there has a moustache, twirlable and waxed, and when you cross the border they'll queue up to pat you on the head and tell you you've grown-- I must say it confused me the first time. Well, strictly speaking, I didn't visit Unclestan, I just visited their embassy, in Niece.
Anyway, one day it was my eighth birthday, and Auntie Hero appeared as she always did, bearing a mysterious brown paper parcel as she always did. But this time, before I could even tear the wrapping...
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