HAVING a cream carpet in the lounge, at the same time as bringing up four children, was one of the bigger mistakes of our parenthood. There are wine, tea and coffee stains everywhere you look and they are exclusively down to the clumsiness of me and our three boys.

My wife and daughter aren’t responsible for any of them, apparently, because “girls are more careful”. They don’t have spills and don’t knock glasses and cups over with their feet. Only boys do that.

I confess to having knocked over the odd glass of red wine and, for every faded purple stain, there is a memory of an icy spell in the doghouse.

Mind you, one of my longest doghouse detentions had nothing to do with the carpet – it was because of what I did to our new leather sofa ten years or so ago. I fell asleep on it, fully clothed, and woke up to discover a pen had leaked in my pocket. The reddish brown leather was soaked with black ink and I still break out in a cold sweat whenever I think of it.

I contemplated blaming the kids, but they were too old by then, so I had to own up and take my punishment. Despite a specialist cleaning programme, the reddish leather settee never fully recovered, though we opted to keep it in active service while the kids were still living at home. However, now they’ve all flown the nest, we’ve taken delivery of a nice new creamy one… to match the carpet.

Anyway, my wife and I were watching telly in the lounge the other evening, me with a beer in my hand and my wife with a large glass of Prosecco.

For absolutely no reason, she suddenly shuddered and threw half of the contents of her glass onto the new settee. Okay, it could have been a lot worse – it could have been red wine – but it still left a fizzing, wet stain on the creamy fabric.

She looked at me and there was a slight pause while I waited for the apology. Instead, she blurted out: “I think I’ve just been bitten on the neck by some kind of bug!”

“What bug?” I demanded to know.

“I don’t know – just some kind of bug,” she replied.

Now I know I lack the bug-spotting expertise of Sir David Attenborough, but I didn’t see any type of insect fly away from my wife’s neck and I didn’t hear any buzzing. That said, it can’t have been her fault because girls don’t spill, do they?

In the meantime, hands up all those who think I’d have got away with blaming a bug if I’d spilled half a glass of Prosecco on our cream settee?

Things they say

THANKS to Kirsten Allen, a teacher at Marske Primary School, for telling me about a boy in her class who asked if he could bring in some of his trophies to give away because his mum said he had too many to fit on his shelf. Kirsten replied that it was a kind gesture and asked what achievements he’d got the trophies for. “It was a job lot from eBay,” came the reply.

BBC Tees presenter Gary Philipson got in touch to tell me about his son Alexander, aged two and a half, who suddenly announced over breakfast: “Mummy, you’re enormous”!

MEANWHILE, Kevin Gill, of Newcastle, contacted me on Facebook to let me know that his son has made an important announcement: “When I’m 18, I’m going to get a credit card so I can get as much free money as I want from the cash machine.”

JACK Cameron, aged eight, of Darlington, wants to be a footballer, but his mum, Joanne, told him he needs to have a Plan B just in case. It turns out that Jack’s Plan B is to be a scientist and he announced that he already knows the recipe for a potion that gives everlasting life. “What’s in it?” asked Joanne. “Warm water, two hearts and some red food colouring – then you blitz it all up and drink it,” she was told.

AND, finally, thanks to Melanie Simpson, of Durham, whose six-year-old son Thomas asked if he could have a doggy. “No, they take too much looking after,” explained Melanie. “Well, how about a koala bear?” came the reply.