When they were 10 years old, Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth were hanging out at the top of the stairs. Bored. Flopped over the banister. In unison, they began to sing: ‘When you don’t know what to do / And you’re feeling kinda blue…’ “And then my mum came along and said, ‘Get that leg off the banister!’” says Jenny. “And we went: ‘Get that leg off the banister! And you’ll know just what to do, d-d-doo, d-d-doo.’” Rosa and Jenny sing out the jazzy tune as they snap their fingers. They laugh hard, as they have done all day. If ‘Get That Leg Off The Banister’ wasn’t Let’s Eat Grandma’s very first song, it was ‘The Angry Chicken’, written with the aid of Rosa’s thirteenth birthday present – a guitar – and inspired by her chicken-shaped alarm clock. Jenny played along on her out-of-tune ukulele.
Bored kids, amusing themselves with literal ditties – it was all of us once; with a friend that we would have died without, if we were lucky. Yet Rosa and Jenny – now 16 and 17, respectively – seem even closer than that.
They’re not the identical twins that they’re so often mistaken for, or even sisters, although they’re happy to propel the myth with matching clothes and all that hair that’s got people comparing them to the sinister apparitions from The Shining. It’s precisely because they’re so inseparable… and because they want to fuck with people. They met in reception class, aged 4, and say they felt a special connection from the beginning. “Even when we’ve had other friends, we’ve always been separate from everyone else,” says Jenny. Rosa recalls play times at school spent “just the two of us, wandering around in our own world, playing games with stones and planning our escape from the playground – we used to think, ooh, we’re going to climb over the fence and then go to this place. I think the whole creation of our own world, which we use in our music, started from that young age.”
Year on year, at Jenny’s birthday parties, the two of them would eat their food away from the other children. Jenny’s sister might have been allowed to join them (Rosa is an only child), but everyone else sat on the other side of the table. Invited friends, but not Rosa. “We’ve got loads of photos and videos of Jenny’s birthdays over the years where we’re on our own, and every year it was like, ‘oh, this again…’”
It’s to their credit that they’re even in touch now that they’re young women, especially since they’ve not schooled together since they were both 7. At that time they vowed to meet up every 2 weeks, which might as well be a year when it’s your number 1 friend and you’re upgrading to middle school. I made similar arrangements with friends at the end of high school – I’ve not seen Keith Howgego since.
Today, they’ve got plenty of other friends, but none that are mutual. They either hang out just them, or totally separately. “I feel like that would be a weird dynamic, if we hung out with other people,” says Jenny, who describes Rosa as a daredevil. “I think that’s what appealed to me about her. I’ve always been a bit more cautious and sensitive, and Rosa balances me out. But we have the same creative ideas and imaginations. It’s almost like, where all the games we used to play was just us and nobody was watching, now it’s exactly the same but the difference is that there are lots of people looking in.”