WHEN I announced I’d be going down to London on business, my wife suddenly pricked up her ears and declared: “Oh, that’s good, you can take a few things down for the kids.”

This came as no surprise because she’s always sending “the kids” stuff, even though all four are grown up, with two of them living in the capital.

In the run-up to Christmas, she still posts advent calendars. At Easter, she still sends them chocolate eggs. And, in between, she sends them all sorts of goodies – because she’s just that kind of mum.

So, on the morning I was packing my bags to catch the afternoon train to London, she calmly announced: “Everything I want you to take is on the dining room table.”

And there, in amongst packets of sweets and bottles of wine, were 30 cans of tuna. Yes, that’s right, 30 cans of tuna. Chunks in brine to be more precise.

“Er, what’s happening with all that tuna on the table?” I asked.

“It was on offer at Lidl, and Jack likes it,” she replied.

She then proceeded to give me a masterclass on how best to squeeze as many cans as possible into my overnight case, with the rest being piled high in an extra-strong shopping bag.

I really shouldn’t have been surprised because my wife has a track record with tuna. When the kids were little, she was going through the post one morning and suddenly jumped up all excited.

“Quick everyone, get your coats on, we’re going into town!” she announced.

“Why? Where are we going?” I asked.

“Safeway,” she replied.

“What for?”

“Cos tuna’s on special offer.”

Apparently, some kind of voucher for supermarket bargains had come through the letter-box and tuna was the best buy at only 19 pence a can.

“But why have we call got to go?” I enquired, hesitantly.

“Cos you’re only allowed three cans per customer,” was the matter-of-fact explanation I was given.

And, so, it came to pass that me and the kids were all given 57 pence each, told to get three cans of tuna from the shelves in Safeway, then rendezvous back at the car.

“But you mustn’t let on that you know each other!” my wife added, conspiratorially.

The kids loved it. They thought they were in a spy film as they checked for the CCTV cameras, before splitting up, and going off in search of the aisle with the tinned fish.

Mission almost accomplished, I looked in disbelief along the row of tills at the checkout. There was me, my wife, my 11-year-old, my 10-year-old, my nine-year-old and my seven-year-old all studiously ignoring each other as we waited with our three cans of tuna and 57 pence.

Two decades on, at very nearly 60 years of age, I was living another fishy nightmare, lugging 30 cans of cheap tuna to London. I almost put my back out lifting the case and the shopping bag onto the train at Darlington station, and I’m very surprised I wasn’t searched as a suspected arms dealer.

Then, once I’d reached King’s Cross, I had to get the cans of tuna off the train again, down the steps to the London Underground, onto a Northern Line train, and up the escalator, before hauling them halfway up Highgate Hill to their destination.

“Mum’s sent 30 cans of tuna for you,” I told Jack as I wiped my sweaty brow upon arrival.

“Really? What for?” he asked.


SPELLING out words to hide things from curious little ears is a vital technique in every parent’s toolkit, but it can’t last forever. Just last week, Chloe’s Daddy made the mistake of mentioning he had to nip out to the S-P-A-R.

Chloe immediately piped up with: “I know you said ‘Spar’, Daddy. “Can I please have a Chocolate Flake?”

HOWEVER, like the rest of us, she can still mistakes. While out for a walk, she spotted a supermarket delivery van and announced: “Look, Daddy! Morrisons!”

It was actually a Sainsbury’s van, so her Daddy took the opportunity to give her a little spelling lesson.

“Close, but it’s not Morrisons, it’s a different supermarket” he replied. “Spell it out. What’s the first letter?”


“That’s right. And which supermarket begins with ‘sss’?” he asked.

“Smorrisons!” came the reply.