MOST 15-year-old boys, hardly surprisingly, don’t like being seen out in public with their mothers. Albert has reached the stage where I am permitted to accompany him only when it is absolutely essential.

Even then, he tends to walk as fast as possible with his head bowed, eyes peeled for anyone he might recognise, in which case he will usually attempt to make a sharp exit.

So it was a shock for him to learn that, because he is under the age of 16, he has to do his Duke of Edinburgh volunteering litter-picking at a local beauty spot with an adult chaperone. And, as the person who will be driving him there and back every weekend, that chaperone will have to be me.

The problem with embarking on this very public mother-and-son double act is, everything I say and do in public is ‘so embarrassing’ or ‘utterly stupid’.

When I took him to buy new school trousers on Saturday, he was horrified when I dared to suggest he actually try on a pair. And when I asked, not unreasonably, once he emerged from the changing room, if he thought they were a good fit, you would have thought I’d just stripped off and stood on my head while singing the National Anthem.

“This is why I hate going out in public with you,” he bellowed once we got outside. “You are the most ridiculous and embarrassing person I know.”

I don’t mind. It’s a stage. I’ve been through it before with his older brothers. They do come out of it eventually.

But then we had a meeting with the lovely manager at the local beauty spot. And she dropped a bombshell. Albert and I will have to wear a matching pair of mother-and son high-viz jackets, to go along with our black bin bags and litter-picking sticks, during our joint volunteering.

I could tell that might prove quite a challenge for Albert, for he won’t easily be able to hide, blend into the background or pretend he’s not with me, like he usually does, should anyone we know come wandering by: “People will probably think we’re doing community service,” he moaned.

“Look on the bright side,” I said, reminding him that we’re going to be given walkie-talkies, along with code words to use in emergencies, as well as going on what sounds like an interesting induction course about the history of the site together.

“I think we’ll really enjoy it,” I enthused, more than happy to help out, as I love this particular spot and enjoy a walk there when I get the chance anyway. “We’ll be doing our bit for the environment and wildlife, and helping improve the area for visitors too.” He had to agree.

And then, when I thought Albert was out of earshot, I made the mistake of adding to his dad: “Best of all, it will give us the chance to enjoy some quality mother-and-son bonding time.”

I could hear Albert storming off behind me, followed by the sound of his bedroom door slamming.

I’m sure he’ll come round.

THE boys’ much-loved grandad died recently.

They used to call him Grandpa Fixit, because he could repair everything from a broken boiler or faulty light switch to the wonky wheel on a tricycle.

He was also known for his really bad jokes, which used to elicit more moans than laughter from his audience, although I think he secretly enjoyed that.

When we last visited, he asked our 18-year-old son, Roscoe, who is studying politics at university: “What was the name of the President of the United States four years ago?”

When Roscoe replied: “Obama”, he grinned: “No, Donald Trump’s name was still Donald Trump four years ago.” We all moaned. He laughed. We were not to know it was the last joke he’d tell us.

He died, sadly, three days later.

In two weeks’ time, we will gather at his funeral to celebrate his life, toast his memory with his favourite tipple, whisky (although he always told the boys it was his “apple juice”), and hopefully enjoy recalling many more of those awful jokes.