SMALL children and old people go well together.

Just how well, we saw on TV this week when four-year-olds had a remarkable effect on old people with dementia. And vice versa.

Yet, we do our best to keep the generations apart. The young old get roped in to babysit, but the old old are often cut off from children altogether.

God help any old person who dares speaks to a strange child in a public place – we’re all now so suspicious that a screaming lynch mob will be gathering in minutes.

But there are ways we can bridge the gap.

Years ago, when I had a small baby, an enterprising health visitor in Northallerton had the brainwave of roping in new mothers to help at a weekly tea party for very old people, most of whom had no family or regular visitors. We chauffeured the old people to the community centre, handed round cups of tea and made polite conversation. We were pretty smug and thought we were doing a great job.

But it was our children who were the real stars of the show.

Babies sat happily on old laps and patted wrinkled faces. They crawled around walking frames and gurgled. Toddlers charged around shouting “Watch me!” and then would lean happily against elderly knees for a rest and reassurance.

They shared chocolate biscuits and accepted each other quite happily.

What I didn’t realise – being young and not very wise – was how little physical contact many of those people had with anyone else, other than the absolute essentials for care. So to have a two-year-old sit next to you and hold your hand was a bit special.

Young mums learned quite a bit too. Inspired by the toddlers, old ladies would recall stories of their own childhoods or how they’d brought up their children and laughed, though quite kindly, at our do-it-by-the book intense approach to babies.

It cost nothing, apart from a bit of petrol and a few teabags, and it did us all good.

For years my first born always associated old people with chocolate biscuits. There are worse things.

SO, at 96 and after more than 22,000 solo engagements, the Duke of Edinburgh has finally retired. Don’t suppose he’ll be happy pottering about getting the Queen’s tea ready for when she comes back from her day job.

A man of his energy and bloody-mindedness will still find plenty to occupy him – and that doesn’t mean making a model of Buckingham Palace out of matchsticks, either.

THE row about breastfeeding has warmed up again. We’re the worst in the western world apparently with few of us breastfeeding at all and nearly all of us giving up before baby’s first birthday.

Then, if you’re back at work, there’s the problem with using the office fridge… The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says women are too embarrassed to feed in their baby in public. Is it any wonder? We see naked flesh everywhere, no part is too private any more, even on prime time TV. But if some mother dares to feed her hungry baby, there’s usually outrage. So who’s going to risk that too often?

I lasted about six months with mine. It was cheap and convenient and all that – but it was often exhausting and not half as convenient as having someone else able to do it.

Yes, we know breast is best. But formula isn’t exactly poison, is it?

What babies need are happy, relaxed, confident mothers and if formula is the best way of achieving that, then good luck to them all.

Far better than a mother with cracked breasts weeping with exhaustion.

ANTHONY Scaramucci lasted ten days in his job as White House communications director, which must be some sort of record.

His wife has also asked for a divorce.

Apparently he is such a total workaholic that when his wife was in labour with their second child he preferred to go to that boy scout rally with President Trump – and we saw how that worked out… According to the New York Post he sent his wife a text “Congratulations,”

it said “I’ll pray for our child.”

After a reaction like that, he’s lucky it was only his job he lost.

THE smarter you are, the less likely you are to pass your driving test, says new research.

I failed my test eight times. I always said I was a genius.

NO one loves a bit of gossip more than I do. As for scandal, bring it on. And I was never a fan of Princess Di.

But still, no, I won’t be watching the Channel 4 documentary on Sunday in which Princess Diana talks about the royals, her life and Prince Charles’ inadequacies as a lover. It just all seems so seedy.

Even given Diana’s talent for selfpublicity, these were private tapes for private use. To reveal them now will do nothing but upset her family and provide tittle tattle for more gleeful gossips paddling in the wrecks of other people’s lives.

Channel Four claim – and they did it with almost a straight face – that the tapes are “an important historical source.”

Well fine. If history is all that matters, why not keep them for another 50 years when those immediately involved will be past caring?

FOR at least ten years our bikes have been rusting, unused, in the back of the garage, so husband and I finally admitted defeat and took them to the tip.

The next day I went to Wallington, the delightful National Trust house near Morpeth. The grounds and gardens – great place for kids – were packed with old bikes.

They were sunk into the soil, splashed on in fountains and everywhere propped up with flowers cascading down over the handlebars.

They looked amazing. Not rusty old bikes but fun pieces of garden art.

Maybe I could get ours back…

YOUNGER son is about to work in the USA and has free healthcare as part of his job but he’ll have to pay for wife and baby. The cost? £500 a month… Makes you realise the NHS is a bargain – and that we should perhaps be paying more for it.

GO on then – did you actually recognise any of the names in the new Celebrity Big Brother line up?