AS I might have said before, it’s hard being a grandad – much harder than being a dad.

Take the recent fall of snow as an example. The phone rang while my wife and I were still snuggled up in bed, like a couple of hibernating hamsters.

It was our four-year-old granddaughter, Chloe: “Ganma, Gandalf, it’s snowing really fast and really deeply – and it’s good snow! Quick - we’re going sledging!”

It was really warm in that bed but a grandad’s got to do what a grandad’s got to do – and so has a grandma.

Within half an hour, we were out of bed, wrapped up warm, and trudging through the snow to what’s known as “The Ring Field” in our village of Hurworth-on-Tees.

Those who have followed this column over the years may remember that The Ring Field is the scene of one of the darker moments of my fatherhood. It was more than 20 years ago, and I’d taken my first-born, Christopher, sledging. He’d gone down the hill, fallen off his sledge, and was wailing, at the top of his voice, that he’d hurt his ankle.

To cut a long, embarrassing story short, I concluded that he was being a drama queen, and shouted at him to get up and stop making a scene in front of the other kids. I then made him climb back up the hill and took him home, where his mum insisted that he should probably get his ankle x-rayed as a precaution.

History has duly recorded the fact that the ankle was so badly broken, it needed to be pinned, and I have been consumed by guilt ever since.

Anyway, he’s 30 now, six-feet-three, built like an ox, and walks without a hint of a limp, so let’s not dwell on it too much…

Me and Ganma duly arrived at The Ring Field to find Chloe already having fun with her Daddy and Mummy.

Well, when I say having fun, Daddy – the aforementioned Christopher – was busy making a giant snowman, in competition with another dad nearby. They were both determined to outdo each other, going higher and higher with their snowmen, in a pathetic attempt to impress their children.

“Chloe wants to go down the hill with you,” Christopher shouted to me, as he stood on his tiptoes to put the snowman’s head in place.

However, Chloe didn’t want me to sit in the sledge with her. Instead, she demanded that I ran alongside her while holding the rope. She squealed with delight all the way down – past the spot where her Daddy had his little accident – and when we got to the bottom, she shouted: “Again, Gandalf! Again! Again!”

Seven times, I ran down that hill, and seven times I dragged that sledge – and Chloe – back up to the top. And, all the while, my son carried on building his snowman, with the help of Chloe’s mummy.

“What do you think, Chloe?” he shouted, after applying the finishing touches of a smiley twig, two branch arms, and a pair of sunglasses.

“Good, Daddy!” she replied, gazing up at him, temporarily overcome by hero worship.

Christopher also asked my view of his handiwork, but I was too knackered to answer.

Mind you, I don’t feel so guilty about his bloody ankle anymore.


HAVING developed an appetite while building his precious snowman, Christopher ordered a Chinese takeaway for his family that evening.

He nearly choked when the food was delivered, and Chloe asked: “Daddy, what does my cortune fookie say?”

CHILDREN can be very cutting...a few days later, Chloe turned to her Mummy and said: “You know, Mummy, you’d be clever if you went to school like me.”

ONE from the archives…Alistair Craggs, aged five at the time and living in Yarm, was playing ‘I Spy’ in the car.

“I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘I’ he announced.

His family tried everything from ice cream to insect. When they finally gave in, Alistair revealed that answer: “I’ve had a tooth out.”