WHEN you’re young, and looking ahead in life, the idea of being a grandad seems like a piece of cake.

By the time you become a grandad, you expect to be knocking on a bit, and ready to start taking things easy; maybe pottering round the garden, going for relaxing walks in the countryside, or playing bowls.

Well, let me tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Being a grandad is bloody hard work.

First, we had the aeroplane rides. When Chloe was two, she’d sit in a cardboard box, and I had to take her for flights out of the lounge, through the dining room, and into the kitchen, before returning to “the airport”.

Then came the space missions. When Chloe was three, and a little bit heavier, she’d sit in a bigger cardboard box, and I had to take her on more daring adventures to the moon and back.

What’s the difference between an aeroplane ride and a space mission, I hear you ask. The answer, my friends, is the stairs. To get to the moon, the chief astronaut (me) has to carry the spaceship up the stairs and land on “The Sea of Tranquility”.

When Apollo 11 made history – a small step for man, a giant leap for mankind, and all that – the Sea of Tranquility was chosen because it was a smooth part of the moon, set apart from any craters. Fifty years on, the Sea of Tranquility became Auntie Hannah’s bed, chosen for its fluffy, soft landing.

Now Chloe’s nearly four, we’ve moved on again to the Formula One era. These days, she likes to race round the garden, like Lewis Hamilton, while sitting in a wheelbarrow. And yes, you’ve guessed it, Grandad – or Gandalf as she still calls me – has to put the fuel in the tank.

“Wheelbarrow race, Gandalf?” she says, pointing to the garden. “Let’s go!”

I might be having a snooze, watching telly, or typing at my desk, but it doesn’t matter – I’m required to push Chloe in the wheelbarrow.

First, we have to set an obstacle course – made up of a few plant-pots, a football, the birdbath, and anything else that happens to be lying round the garden – and try to beat our best time over three exhausting laps.

“Faster, Gandalf, faster,” she shouts as I hurtle round the racetrack as fast as my 58-year-old legs will carry me.

“You didn’t go fast enough,” she declares as I announce that we’ve just broken a minute for the first time.

Lewis Hamilton might have to concentrate hard when he’s completing 51 laps of Silverstone during the British Grand Prix, but I can assure you that three laps of our garden in the British Grandad Prix, is a lot harder.

So, if you’re hankering after becoming a grandparent, here’s a piece of advice: remember to make sure your wheelbarrow’s well-oiled.


My eldest son, Christopher – alias the Big Friendly Giant – greeted his three-year-old daughter, Chloe, on her return from nursery and asked: “Do you have a best friend yet?”

“No,” she replied. “But Poppy is one of my biggest fans.”

ON another occasion, Christopher was understandably alarmed when he asked Chloe what she’d been doing at nursery that day.

“I’ve been playing with nipples,” she replied.

Once her Daddy had wiped himself down, after spitting coffee all over himself, he managed to get an explanation.

Chloe had been having fun with Nibbles, the school guinea pig.

THE nursery teacher was going round Chloe’s class, asking what the children want to be when they grow up.

Princesses, mermaids and various superheroes were popular choices until it was Chloe’s turn.

“I want to be a heart sturgeon so I can keep mummies and daddies and babies alive – and Grandad because he’s very, very old,” she declared.