NO matter how old they are, it’s hard not to give your children advice when they go away.

Our four are all grown-up now but my wife and I still nag them about driving carefully, staying safe, keeping a close eye on their belongings, and texting us to let us know all’s well.

They might roll their eyes but, hey, that’s what parents are for. After all, we have the benefit of a lifetime of experience and wisdom.

So, having set the scene, let me tell you about the holiday my wife and I have just had in Cornwall…

We stayed at The Land’s End Hotel, on the very southern tip of the country, where we had every type of weather within a week: from howling gales, lashing rain, and pea-souper fogs, to spectacular sunsets, and pleasant, blue-sky days that could easily have passed for summer.

We enjoyed days out in St Ives and Penzance, visited the magnificent St Michael’s Mount, watched the new James Bond film, and hiked along the cliff-top to Sennen Cove, where we walked bare-foot across the sands, like a couple of kids, before braving the chilly waves to go for a swim.

Yes, it was all pretty idyllic – until the day before we were due to leave, and I managed to throw my phone into the toilet. To be fair, it wasn’t intentional. I had my i-Phone in my hand as I approached the cubicle in the hotel, tripped inexplicably, and it sailed in slow-motion towards the toilet bowl, bounced on the rim, and sank.

Had the person who used the toilet before me closed the lid, I might have got away with a cracked screen. Instead, it was a case of having to fish it out and run to our room to break the news to my wife.

“Rice,” she sighed. “Get it in some rice – quickly. It’s your only hope.”

Wondering if her words constituted a threat to kill me for being so stupid, I ran downstairs to seek help and accosted a waiter who’d just finished serving breakfast.

“Excuse me, I’ve dropped my phone down the toilet – could I please have a bowl of rice?” I asked.

He was efficiency personified: disappearing into the kitchen and emerging with an ample portion of risotto rice in a Tupperware box. The wet phone was duly buried in the rice in the vain hope that it would dry off and come back to life.

To be fair, my wife proved to be very understanding – in an unnerving kind of way. She even calmly put a call in to the insurance company to start the ball rolling on getting a replacement phone and, all the while, part of me was wishing she’d just let rip and shout at me in front of all the guests.

We left the hotel the next morning and, three hours into our drive home, my wife’s phone rang. It was the hotel to inform her that she’d left a pair of shoes and some clothes in the room.

“I don’t understand. I checked the wardrobe and all the cupboards,” I heard her say, and I have to admit that it made me feel a whole lot better.

Anyway, our eldest son – aged 31 – is working down in Surrey all week. Naturally, we’ve told him to be careful.


STILL on the subject of toilets, here’s a couple from the archives…

Vi Rigby was playing cards with her grandchildren in Felling, Tyne and Wear.

Danielle, then aged seven, got all excited and blurted out: “Ooh, what’s that when you get a toilet?”

Her Grandma wondered if she needed a wee – but it turned out that Danielle had a royal flush.

PAMELA Lally, of Redcar, was in the bathroom with two-year-old granddaughter, Rebecca, who was being potty trained.

After putting the little girl on her potty, Grandma announced that she needed to go to the loo as well.

After Pamela had finished, Rebecca looked up from her potty and declared: “Good girl, Grandma!”