IN the blink of an eye, Chloe, our first grandchild, has reached her third birthday.

It’s the first time she’s been old enough to understand the concept of birthdays, and her excitement was a joy to behold.

She’d been looking forward to it for weeks, holding her hands to her mouth and quivering with anticipation whenever it was mentioned.

And, of course, she was spoiled rotten by both sides of her family. Her presents included a garden swing; a pink bike, with helmet and knee pads, arm pads and water bottle; a trampoline, a mermaid outfit – complete with tail at one end and floral headband at the other – and a Baby Shark game.

Her daddy had spent hours perfecting a cake with Elsa, from the Frozen film, perched on top, and a mesmerised Chloe whispered “Thank you so much” before blowing out her three candles with a little help.

This may all seem idyllic, and I suppose was – apart from the fact that the occasion also served to underline how low grandads come in the pecking order.

At the risk of sounding petty, take the Baby Shark game as evidence. The box contains Baby Shark, Mummy Shark, Daddy Shark and Grandma Shark, who all have to try to catch fish with fishing rods. Despite featuring in both the song and the TV series, Grandpa Shark has been disgracefully and inexplicably left out. Naturally, I’ll be writing to the manufacturers to ask for an explanation.

However, that’s a minor scandal compared to a conversation I overheard between Chloe and her Daddy a week before the big day.

“Who do you think we should we invite to your party?” Daddy had asked her.

“Ganma!” was her instinctive first choice. Well, I could live with that because Chloe’s always loved her Grandma.

“OK, who else should we invite?” her Daddy persisted.

“Auntie Hannah!” came the enthusiastic reply. Fair enough. Chloe idolises Auntie Hannah, and she lives in London, so her visits are always a novelty.

It was when Uncle Max and Uncle Jack were nominated next that I started getting a bit desperate. There was nothing else for it – I surreptitiously manoeuvred into Chloe’s eye-line, waved my arms around, jumped up and down, and coughed loudly three times.

“Haven’t we forgotten someone who’d like to come to your party and have a piece of birthday cake?” asked her Daddy, sensing the urgency of the situation.

Chloe considered the question, put her finger on her chin as she went into deep contemplation, then suddenly remembered who she’d left out: “THE NEIGHBOURS!”


IT was the morning of her party and Chloe was playing with Uncle Max, who’d come home from Manchester.

She suddenly picked up an imaginary telephone and pretended it was my Mum on the other end.

“Oh, hello, Great Grandma, how are you?” she began.

After another few seconds of humming and harring, she put the receiver down and informed Uncle Max: “That was Great Grandma on the phone – she wants to know if you’ve brought me a present.”

CHLOE was sitting on the sofa watching television in her mermaid outfit and, despite being the last name on the party guest list, I was trying hard to be nice.

“You are the most beautiful mermaid I’ve ever seen,” I said.

“Oh, Grandad, can’t you see I’m human at the moment,” she sighed, pointing to the fact that she’d unzipped her fish tail to let her feet out.