IF there was a British Olympic team for crocheting, I'm pretty confident my soft-hearted, 90-year-old mum would win a gold medal.

These days, she’s known as ‘Great Margaret’ – a name given to her by our little granddaughter, Chloe, because she found the concept of having a great grandma, as well as two ordinary grandmas, a bit confusing.

The title fits perfectly because, even if I say so myself, my mum's great in all kinds of ways, including being a great crocheter.

For as long as I can remember, she’s made enormous, multi-coloured blankets for friends, family, and anyone who mentioned that they’d like one.

However, over the past year, the blanket production line has been interrupted following an appeal by the managers of the beautiful Georgian Theatre, at Richmond.

Volunteer knitters were invited to make woollen hearts for the children to chuck at the pantomime baddies this Christmas – and Great Margaret threw herself into the challenge like a woman possessed.

She ended up crocheting more than 100 hearts to be delivered to the theatre ahead of the opening night of Beauty and The Beast, which runs until January 9.

We’ve bought tickets to take her to the final performance, by which time she’ll have probably made at least another 50.

Meanwhile, she’s also been pulling the threads of the generations together by teaching my daughter, Hannah, how to crochet.

Throughout the pandemic, they’ve been having weekly lessons on Zoom, with Great Margaret at home in Middlesbrough, and Hannah 300 miles away in London.

It’s a source of great pride for them both that Hannah has picked up the age-old craft so well.

“She’s a natural,” said Great Margaret, sagely, after her granddaughter had crocheted her a shoulder bag for her 90th birthday at the start of October.

And their mutual passion for crochet was taken to a whole new level last weekend when Hannah had a trip home, and Great Margaret was persuaded to come to our house for a sleepover.

When I went into the lounge, there they were – six decades between them – engaged in a hard-fought competition to see who could crochet the fastest, with my wife timing them.

Look, I’ll be honest, watching a speed crocheting contest isn’t really my idea of a dynamic Saturday night, but I had to feign interest instead of watching the football on telly.

When the raw excitement was over and Great Margaret's ‘wool to win’ had proved to be slightly superior, we eventually settled down to watch TV. Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was on, with comedian, Jimmy Carr, taking his turn in the hot seat.

My wife, Heather, put the TV on pause to give us all the chance to answer the £16,000 question: What’s the predominant gas on Mars? a) helium b) nitrogen c) carbon dioxide or d) methane.

After a while, Great Margaret sighed and said: “Blimey, Jimmy Carr’s taking his time, isn’t he?”

What a knit.


WITH Hannah coming home for the weekend, we took the opportunity to go and get our Christmas tree, and five-year-old Chloe came with us.

Ever since, she’s been telling the world that her grandad tied the tree to the roof of his car with 'budgies'.

I’d like to reassure all animal-lovers that I did, in fact, use stretchy ropes known as 'bungies'.

NATIVITY plays continue to throw up endless laughs…like the time one of the Three Wise Men marched up to the manger, tried his hardest to remember his lines, then shouted: “Frank sent this!”

AND then there was the time Mary also forgot her lines at the crucial moment, so made up her own as she squared up to a startled Joseph.

“Look, I’m going to have a baby – and it’s not yours!” she told him, bluntly.