MY mother is a remarkable woman. Now 86, she still rides her bike everywhere and delivers the papers to the “old people” in her street.

However, it has to be said that she’s always had an odd taste when it comes to Christmas presents.

There’s always the obligatory shirt and tie, but it’s the add-ons she’s best known for. Like the time I was given an auto-escape hammer in case I was in a car crash and trapped in the wreckage. That was followed a year later by a book called “101 Things To Do With Vinegar”.

You get my drift.

Anyway, this Christmas will be remembered for the matching pair of telescopic spatulas and the whistling key-finder.

The telescopic spatulas were produced from her bag just as we were sitting down for Christmas dinner. “I thought these would come in handy because you’ve got a very long dining table,” she announced.

She then proceeded to give a demonstration by extending one of the spatulas to its full length, fishing out two sprouts from the dish at the other end of the table, and balancing them all the way back to her plate to a round of applause.

“There, I didn’t even need to get up,” she boasted, before tackling three roast potatoes with the other spatula. This time, she wasn’t quite so clever, with one dropping off halfway and landing in my wife’s glass of prosecco. The peas proved to be beyond her altogether, with several ending up on the floor.

Naturally, we all had to have a go and I think there’s a distinct possibility of telescopic spatula balancing becoming an Olympic sport in years to come.

The whistling key-finder was left until after dinner. “Go and hide your keys and then whistle,” she said. I’m not sure what she thought was going to happen because she hadn’t even twigged that the key-finder had to be attached to my keys.

Nevertheless, once the device was attached, I closed my eyes and one of the “kids” hid my keys in another room. I must have walked round the house whistling for a good 20 minutes without hearing the promised bleeping noise from my ingenious new key-finder.

I whistled so long and hard that my cheeks were aching and five dogs had lined up outside the window.

The key-finder turned out to be faulty. It bleeped occasionally – but not when anyone was whistling.

“Where did you get it from?” I asked. “The Pound Shop,” she replied.

For the record, my shirt was a size too small, so that’s going to have to go back too. And if she thinks she’s getting a lift to the shop, she can whistle for it.


AS has become tradition on Christmas Eve, I donned my Santa suit and visited the homes of friends with children of a suitable age. At Croft-on-Tees, I met a little girl called Isla, aged five, who had asked Santa for a Lego Belle Castle.

“And what’s one of those?” I asked, stroking my long white beard.

“It’s a Belle Castle made of Lego,” she replied with a bemused look that suggested she thought Santa had lost the plot.

FURTHER into my round as Santa, I visited Daniel, eight, Adam, six, and their cousin Libby, four.

“Tell me, have your Mummy and Daddy been good?” I asked Adam.

“Not really, they’ve let fluff build up behind my bed and that’s where the spiders are coming from,” he replied.

AT 14 months, our first grandchild, Chloe, is still a bit young for Christmas. Nevertheless, her Mum and Dad were so excited, they still felt inclined to go through the motions and leave out a mince pie for Santa as well as a carrot for Rudolf.

When they turned round a few minutes later, Chloe had eaten the mince pie and was half way through the carrot.

Sorry Santa. Sorry Rudolf. Like I said, it’ll take Chloe a bit longer to get into the Christmas spirit.