AS I get older, and venture deeper into grandfatherhood, I can’t help yearning for more attention.

To be honest, I’ve always been someone who needs to be loved but, if anything, the affection levels seem to be going into reverse at the moment.

Take the other day, for example. I’d been working hard in my office when I overheard my wife downstairs say: “I’m going to get my bikini on and go for a nice swim and then feed my doggie.”

Naturally, my curiosity was stirred. I went to find out what was going on, only to discover – to my intense disappointment – that there was neither a bikini nor a doggie in sight.

Instead, my wife was having an animated conversation on Zoom with our four-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.

The pair of them were discussing the computer game they’ve started playing remotely. It’s called Stardew Valley, and involves inheriting a farm, giving it a name, then growing crops, foraging for food, making money by selling produce, and engaging in other countryside activities.

My wife has called her estate Sunshine Farm, while Chloe lives out her fantasy on Princess Farm. Ganma has recently discovered a nearby swimming pool in Pelican Town, while Chloe spends most of her time watering her 600 trees, and has a computer boyfriend called Elliott.

Anyway, I was feeling a bit left out, so I made an unashamed attempt at interrupting the Stardew Valley discussion.

“Hello, Chloe,” I said, positioning myself in front of my wife’s laptop camera, and giving my little granddaughter a cheery wave.

“I’m busy talking to Ganma,” she replied, bluntly. The look on her face was enough to say “Go away” though she didn’t actually utter those words.

I know my place and it’s clearly not in Stardew Valley, so I went into the next room to call my 28-year-old daughter in London. It rang and rang but there was no answer, so I left a message to say I was just hoping for a little chat.

A text came back: “Busy at the moment – is it important?”

I was tempted to text back “No, nothing important, just hoping for a bit of TLC,” but I thought that might appear childish. Instead, I made do with the first three words.

Within the space of five minutes, I’d been rejected by two of the women in my life, so – as a last resort – I rang a third.

“Hi, how are you doing?” I asked my 89-year-old Mum, the woman who gave birth to me nearly 59 years ago.

“I’m just watching The Chase – can I ring you back tomorrow?” she said.

“Don’t worry, I’ll ring you in an hour?” I suggested, feeling ever more desperate.

“Well, the snooker’s on – it’s the final,” she replied.

I’ll be honest, I’m seriously considering going to live on an isolated farm and getting a dog to talk to.


A CHRISTMAS leftover…Chloe’s dad had just started on his advent calendar and was about to eat the chocolate behind the first window.

Chloe had already made a start on her own advent calendar but was giving her Daddy the kind of look that’s irresistible.

“Chloe? Do you want my first chocolate too?” he asked.

“No, Daddy,” came the unexpected reply, before she added: “But I think my baby elephant would like it.”

After ‘Baby Elephant’ had spent a few seconds snuffling around the chocolate, she announced: “He’s had enough Daddy, and he wants me to finish it for him!”

CHLOE has been giving a lot of thought to her future.

She’s adamant that she’s going to go into medicine but she’s struggling to choose a speciality.

“On Mondays, I’m going to be a heart sturgeon,” she announced recently. “And on Tuesdays, I’m going to be a foot sturgeon.”

Thinking perhaps she might like to consider general practice, I enquired what she would do on Wednesdays.

“On Wednesdays, Gandalf…I’m going to be a dragon.”

Now, there’s an incentive not to miss an appointment.