THERE are times when a dad’s got to do what a dad’s got to do – and I’m discovering that the same applies to grandads.

It’s in the job description to be able to pretend you don’t know what’s coming – even when it’s going to be unpleasant or embarrassing.

Let’s start with an example from when I was just a dad. We were having a family break at Center Parcs, and there was wooden bucket of cold water hooked up to the wall outside our lodge. It was attached to a rope, designed to be pulled so you could have an al fresco shower.

Now, I dare say this would probably have been quite refreshing on a hot summer’s day, but it was a bit on the chilly side at the time.

Anyway, you can guess the drill. My wife shouted: “Daddy, can you come over here, please – we’ve got something to show you?” With the kids finding it impossible to stifle their giggles, I knew exactly what was going to happen next.

I obediently stood on the spot indicated by my wife and – WHOOSH! – the icy water was tipped over me while the children ran away amid howls of laughter.

Shivering, I ran straight into the sauna to warm up, promptly slipped on the tiles, went head over heels, landed on the hot coals, and burnt my arm so badly that I had to be treated at the first aid centre.

The nurse instructed me not to get my char-grilled arm wet for the rest of the holiday so, whenever we were in the pool, I had to have it raised above the water. Strangers must have thought I was waving at them because they kept waving back, trying to work out who I was.

That all happened 20 years ago, and now I’m a grandad to four-year-old Chloe, who also likes to play tricks on her poor grandad, or Gandalf as she calls me.

We were having a family barbecue at the weekend and ‘Ganma’ suddenly asked: “You’re looking very tired, Gandalf?’ Are you going to have a little sleep?”

I instinctively knew that this was code for “Brace yourself – Chloe’s about to play one of her pranks.” I responded by making a loud declaration that I was, indeed, going to have a nap and, within seconds, I was snoring like an old walrus.

Chloe then spent the next 10 minutes covering my face with her coloured chalks and, when she wasn’t satisfied with the rainbow result, she went over it with a Prosecco bottle cork that had been reduced to charcoal by her Daddy on the barbie.

“Wake up, Gandalf,” sniggered Chloe. “Don’t you want to look in the mirror?”

Think of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins – only much, much sootier. I love being a Grandad, me.


A COUPLE from the archives…Betty Desborough was teaching at St Peter’s Church of England School, in Brotton, East Cleveland, a while back, and she asked the children: “Who can tell me who lives at Buckingham Palace?”

Met by a sea of blank faces, she gave them a clue: “She’s the most important lady in the country.”

A little boy called Michael had the answer immediately: “My Gran!”

MICHELLE, aged eight, was playing on the settee with her dad and jumping on top of him.

During a pause in the game, she suddenly asked: “Daddy, when you love Mummy, do you go on top or does she?”

“Why are you asking that?” spluttered her dad, understandably taken aback.

“Because I’ve been down the dyke, watching the frogs,” she explained, calmly.