EVEN if I say so myself, my dear old mum has always had a heart of gold.

Just a couple of years away from being 90, yet so sprightly that she still rides a bike, she’ll do anything for anyone.

There was the time, for example, when I phoned a year or so ago to see if she was OK in the midst of the terrible weather labelled “The Beast From The East”. “Yes, I’m fine” she replied. “I’ve swept the snow off my path and delivered the papers to the old people down the street.”

It’s not just people she worries about – it’s animals too – but I’m starting to wonder if her passion for all creatures great and small is getting a bit out of hand.

She was on the bus the other day, heading into Middlesbrough to do a spot of shopping, when she looked out of the window and was alarmed to see a hedgehog on the side of the road not far from St Peter’s Church in South Bank. “Ahh, look, there’s a hedgehog trying to get across the road,” she said to a man sitting next to her. “Do you think he’s going to be alright?”

The man shrugged his shoulders, and went back to minding his own business, while my mum continued to fret all the way to the shops.

An hour or so later, as she was heading home, she looked out of the bus window and saw that the hedgehog was in the same place, still struggling to cross.

This time, her conscience got the better of her. Having announced to half a dozen complete strangers that there was a hedgehog trying to cross the road, she pressed the bell to get off at the next stop.

“I’m just going to pop back to check on the hedgehog,” she told the bemused driver.

Carrying two heavy shopping bags, at the age of 88, she then proceeded to walk back half a mile with the intention of acting as a lollipop lady for a hedgehog.

When she got there, she discovered that there had been a very good reason the hedgehog hadn’t moved a single step between her two bus journeys. It was well and truly dead.

There was only one thing for it – she picked him up, crossed the road, and placed him gently in the church yard in the hope he’d get a helping hand across the big road into heaven.

By her own admission, she was cream crackered when she finally got home with her bags of shopping. She also got “a bit prickled” and thinks she might have fleas.

Do you know what? Even if she has, I’ll still love her.


AT a friendly meeting of Newton Hall Women’s Institute, in Durham, Brenda Roberts told me how she was not only sad but alarmed when she was told as a little girl that her Grandma had died of galloping consumption.

“For years, I thought she’d rode away on a horse,” said Brenda.

THE competition at newton Hall WI was a limerick about a Grandad, and was won by Val Marjoram. This is how it went…

“There once was a Grandad called Keith,

Who mislaid his set of false teeth,

They’d been laid on a chair,

He’d forgot they were there,

He sat down and was bitten beneath.”

MY wife came downstairs looking a bit disheveled.  “Sorry I’m dressed like this,” she said, “but I’m planning on burying something in the garden.”

I'll be honest - I didn’t like the way she was looking at me.