ALONG with all forms of DIY, manual labour has never been my strong point. I have no discernible biceps, and my back tends to buckle under anything heavier than an average sack of spuds.

My heart, therefore, sank when my wife decided she wanted our bedroom decorated for Christmas, and announced that the bedframe and several large cupboards would need to be cleared out of the way.

Thankfully, this all happened before the latest lockdown, so we were able to call on the help of our eldest son – otherwise known as The Big Friendly Giant. The BFG comes in particularly handy whenever there’s any heavy lifting required because he’s six feet-three, possesses proper muscles, and relaxes by chopping logs.

Nevertheless, it was always going to be a two-man-job – another “labourer” was needed to help carry all the furniture downstairs so it could be stored under cover in the back garden while the decorator got to work.

I’ll be honest, it crossed my mind to feign injury and let my wife take the strain, but guilt got the better of me. There was no way out – it had to be me.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried because, when the time came to do the removals, we had someone else to help us – in the form of a real-life superhero!

“Hi, Gandalf, I’ve come to help you with my super strength,” announced my four-year-old granddaughter, who still hasn’t quite mastered the pronunciation of ‘grandad’.

She’d turned up with her Daddy, and was dressed for the occasion – in her Wonder Woman outfit.

“Oh, thank goodness you’ve arrived, Chloe,” I declared.

“No, Gandalf, me not Chloe, me Wonder Woman,” she replied, with her arm outstretched, her fist clenched, and a determined frown.

I shouldn’t have been surprised because, like her daddy before her, Chloe loves to dress up. As well as Wonder Woman, her growing collection of outfits includes Belle, Ariel, Rapunzel, Cat Woman, and Green Lantern.

And she really lives the part. Wonder Woman always comes armed with “The Golden Lasso” – otherwise known as “The Lasso of Truth” – which she uses to make people tell the truth.

“Do you need my super strength, Gandalf?” she asked and, naturally, the answer was ‘yes’. Well, how could I lie to someone wielding The Golden Lasso?

The truth is that a grandad’s got to do what a grandad’s got to do. For the next hour, I pretended that I couldn’t lift my end of the bed frame, or any of the cupboards, without the help of Wonder Woman.

“I can’t lift it – oh, my back,” I gasped.

“Don’t worry, Gandalf, I’ll help you,” came the reply. “But then I’m going to have a snack and watch the telly.”

It’s a wonderful world when you’re four.


THE villagers of Hurworth-on-Tees did an outstanding job decorating their homes this Halloween.

“Who’s that, Daddy?” Chloe would ask every time she and my eldest walked past a spookily decorated house.

She’d then phone to happily report that she’d seen “Daclia” or “a werewoof”.

I have to admit that it got a little bit confusing when Chloe confidently announced that she’d seen ‘Jeff’ down the street.

“Who’s that? Is it someone from nursery?” I asked.

“No, Gandalf. You know – Jeff! Him stands in the garden and him has a big pointy stick.”

It turned out to be The Grim Reaper and she’d meant ‘Death’.

STILL on the subject of death, one from the archives…

A nursery school teacher I met on my travels recalled the time a little boy had told him he’d found a dead cat.

“How do you know it was dead?” asked the teacher.

“Because I pissed in its ear and it didn’t move,” replied the child, innocently.

“You did what?” exclaimed the shocked teacher.

“You know,” explained the boy, “I leaned over, went Pssst – and it didn’t move.”