IT’S always a joy to see little ones progress with their words – and we’ve reached the point at which our granddaughter has started to read us stories.

Instead of us reading to Chloe, the roles are being reversed. Ganma and I have to sit on the settee so that, slowly but surely, Chloe can string letters together to triumphantly form words, while carefully sliding her finger under each line.

But mingled in with the happiness of seeing her grow into her vocabulary, there’s also sadness at the lovely, made-up words that are lost along the way. Like oice, for example.

Let me explain…Chloe loves to play ‘Fuzzy-Felt Families’ with Ganma. They can spend hours creating adventures for the central characters: Mummy and Daddy, sisters Chloe and Rosie, and new-born twins that haven’t been given names yet.

They go on all kinds of lovely holidays, visit farms, enjoy trips to the zoo, and build houses. Chloe’s Auntie Hannah has even crocheted little blankets for each character to keep them warm.

Up to now, Chloe has always started with an instruction to her grown-up playmate: “Ganma, you be Rosie’s oice.”

Ganma also has to be the oice for Mummy and Daddy and anyone else who happens to come along in the story. The only oice she doesn’t have to do is Chloe’s.

This Fuzzy-Felt fun has been a real feature of the first few years of Chloe’s life but, one day last week, Ganma came into the lounge looking crestfallen and gave a deep sigh.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Oh, Chloe asked me to be Rosie’s voice,” she replied, quietly.

“Why’s that so terrible?” I wondered.

“I’ve always been Rosie’s oice and now I’m Rosie’s voice,” she explained. “That’ll be it now – she won’t say oice anymore.”

No doubt, a diligent teacher had done her job and pointed out to Chloe that there’s no such word as oice and encouraged her to add the ‘v’.

The same thing happened 26 years ago when Chloe’s dad, Christopher, came home and with the shattering announcement: “Mum, Mrs Graham says there’s no such word as awsly!

Awsly was his special word for also. For example, he’d once told Father Christmas: “I’d like a sword and awsly a little yellow rabbit.”

But, suddenly, awsly was no more. It had been erased by Mrs Graham because, well, teachers have to teach.

Edderbedder was another than did the distance when it was corrected in favour of umbrella. I also remember us being disappointed when Chloe’s beloved Auntie Hannah started referring to Sleeping Beauty, instead of Sleeping Seauty, when she finally learned to pronounce her Bs.

Except the lost words never disappear fully. They’re all still used in our house. In fact, my wife frequently uses awsly when she writes to our ‘kids’.

It might not be a word in Mrs Graham’s book, but it is in ours. And I think you’ll find that we’ll awsly be using oice when Chloe’s grown-up too.


Alison Robson, who lives in Yarm, got in touch after the last Grandad At Large column about how my wife had made me carry 30 cans of tuna on the train to London to deliver to our son, Jack.

Alison recalls how her aunt, Doreen Dixon, used to take a big bag of spuds back home to Surrey with her every time she visited family in Roseworth, Stockton.

Nothing down south compared to a Stockton market spud, apparently,” she says. “I remember vividly chasing rolling tatties around a National Express bus the inevitable day the bag burst.”


THE other night while watching a family film together, Chloe’s mum asked: “Chloe, please would you pass me one of those cakes?”

Chloe responded with horror. “No Mummy! Those cakes are for AFTER dinner. You can have one for your zurt.” (Dessert is another word that has so far escaped being replaced.)

After checking that her mum looked suitably chastened, Chloe crawled into her dad’s lap and whispered: “Daddy? Please give me a cake but don’t let Mum see!”