OVER the years, my dear old Mum has done lots of jobs. She’s been in the Land Army, worked on the London Underground – shouting “Mind the gap” – done shifts in a cake factory, and spent many happy years as a postlady.

But who’d have thought that halfway through her 90th year, she’d have landed a new role as a model?

I should probably explain…Since I stepped down as editor of The Northern Echo five years ago to this very day, I’ve worked as a freelance, juggling a number of clients, and life is very varied.

For example, one day last week, I had to go to Redcar for a planning meeting at the racecourse, ahead of doing some work at the first meeting on Easter Monday. While I was there, another client, Darlington Building Society, asked me to do a quick job. They wanted a picture of one of Redcar’s famous lemon top ice creams for a poster to help promote the forthcoming opening of their new branch in the High Street.

Well, obviously, I needed someone to hold the lemon top. I suppose I could have stopped someone in the street and said, “Excuse me, do you mind holding this lemon top?” but that might have been a bit embarrassing. A better alternative was to take my Mum with me, to be my glamorous assistant and ice cream model.

Unfortunately, when we got there, I realised I didn’t have any money on me. She, therefore, had to pay £1.20 for the parking ticket and £2 for the lemon top.

“I don’t believe this,” she protested, as she stood in the long queue for an ice cream. “I’m working for you and I’m having to shell out money! By rights, I should be getting paid by the hour!”

We managed to get the picture taken but then the lemon top started to melt – rapidly dribbling down her arm.

“I’m out of pocket and now I’m covered in ice cream,” she groaned, as she hastily licked the drips off the soggy cone and emerged with a white blob on the end of her nose.

On reflection, I was probably pushing my luck by asking: “I don’t suppose you’ve got enough money for fish and chips?”

“I honestly can’t believe this,” she sighed, rummaging through her purse and finding a tenner. “I bet other models don’t get treated like this.”

There’s no pleasing some people, is there? You take them for a nice day out at the seaside and all they do is moan…

STILL on the subject of my Mum, she was very proud recently to finally complete a 1,000-piece jigsaw of London landmarks that my daughter had sent her as a lockdown gift.

For weeks, she moaned that she’d never be able to finish it. Then, when she did, she never shut up about her triumph.

Anyway, I was moved to call her last week to tell her that a 10,000-piece jigsaw – an aerial view of London, measuring eight feet by eight feet – would be arriving by lorry at midday.

“It took me weeks to do a 1,000-piece jigsaw – how do you expect me to do a 10,000-piece jigsaw? she shouted. “And where the hell am I going to put it?”

I left it a couple of hours before I called to remind her of the date. It was April 1.

“I don’t believe it,” she yelled, in the style of Victor Meldrew. Then she cursed more in five minutes than she has in 90 years.


GRANDDAUGHTER Chloe, aged four, dropped her favourite toy unicorn the other day and its horn fell off.

“Oh well,” she sighed. “Now it’s just a horse.”