EVERYONE kept telling me that it’s different being a grandad. Much better than being a dad, they said. “You get all the nice bits, but you can give them back when you’ve had enough,” sums up the general view.

And, nine months in, I have to say they’re probably right. I’m still getting used to being called “Grandad”, but it’s been a joy so far.

As a dad, it all flashed by in a blur as I tried to juggle building a career with having four children in the space of seven crazy years. As a mid-fifties grandad, I’ve reached that stage of my life where I have a bit more time to savour each moment. Mind you, it’s not all plain sailing. I’m discovering it’s also a bit scarier when you’re left holding the baby as a grandad. It’s someone else’s child so the responsibility weighs more heavily.

Chloe’s our first grandchild, and we’ve been entrusted with a couple of overnight baby-sitting shifts. My wife has slipped back into having a baby around with natural ease. Baby and Grandma already have a great rapport that’s lovely to see.

Much as I love having Chloe to stay, I admit that I haven’t found it quite so easy. For a start, I’m rediscovering how quickly your arms ache when you’re carrying a baby around. And, worse than that, I’d forgotten what it’s like to hear the full effect of a baby crying. There’s no sound quite like it for raising the blood pressure. It’s torture.

Don’t get me wrong, Chloe’s a lovely little thing who does a lot more smiling than crying. But when she gets tired, I’d rather stick pins in myself than listen to her wailing.

One night last week, my wife was busy making the tea so I was looking after Chloe in the lounge. We’d been playing with her toys on the floor for a while, but I was also trying to watch a Roger Federer match on the telly.

She started to cry and wouldn’t stop despite me rocking her, singing to her, dancing with her, and pulling my complete repertoire of funny faces.

In desperation, I lifted her up and sat her on my head. Suddenly, there was a blessed silence. I brought her back onto my lap, and the crying immediately resumed. I put her back on my head, and she stopped. It was like turning a tap on and off.

Tennis is one of the loves of my life and I’ve been enthralled by the magic of Wimbledon for as long as I can remember. But, even as a dad, I never had to watch an entire set with a nine-month-old baby perched on my head.

It also led to a barbed comment about my thinning hair from my daughter when a picture of Chloe and me was posted: “Ooh, look, Dad’s actually got something on his head – makes a nice change.”

I shouldn’t have to put up with this kind of thing at my age, should I?

The things they say

THANKS to Darlington Punch and Judy man Brian Llewellyn, who got in touch after attending a food festival in Penrith. A busker band was singing various songs about the fruit and veg they had in a barrow. After each song, they asked questions about the fruit or veg they’d been singing about.

“Where do these come from?” he asked out loud, with a banana in his hand. “From there,” replied a little girl, pointing to the barrow.

LISA Armes sent a message via Twitter to tell me about her two-year-old’s take on the tarpaulins covering the scaffolding during building work at Durham Cathedral. “Mummy, the bells are hiding under a white blanket,” she was told.

STUART Armstrong, of Durham, was enjoying a family day out at Newcastle Races when his son Sam, six, chirped up with an interesting observation: “Dad, I’ve just seen number six have a big poo. It should be able to run faster now, shouldn’t it? Cos it’s not easy to run fast when you need a poo – or a wee.”

The horse won at 6-1. Bear it in mind next time you’re at the races.

GRANDAD Malcolm Harrison, of Newcastle, got in touch to tell me how he was busy grooming his Yorkshire Terrier, Alfie.

“Don’t brush too hard, Grandad,” said Matthew, aged, five. “Alfie’s hair will fall out – like yours did.”