THROUGHOUT the past 27 years, I’ve done my best to be a cool dad. I really have.

I’m acutely aware that dads are often embarrassing, whether it’s their clothes, the things they say, their dancing, or their choice of music.

So, in contrast to my own dad, who described my teenage years’ music as “a horrible bloody noise”, I’ve set out to be open-minded about fashions, young points of view, and my children’s musical tastes.

I love Genesis songs going back 30 years, but I’ve also added The Arctic Monkeys and Biffy Clyro to my music collection to keep it cool.

The trouble is, the older you get – especially when you become a grandad – the harder it is to be cool.

My youngest son is living in Manchester these days, trying to make his way as a drummer. One of his bands is in the process of recording an album before going on tour, and they’ve released a video of one of the songs on YouTube.

I know I’m biased, but I really like it. The lead singer and main songwriter is a girl with a beautiful voice, and the drummer isn’t bad either. I wanted to show my support, so I sent the singer a message on Facebook, saying how much I liked the song and her voice.

To my delight, I received a reply, saying she was really pleased I was enjoying the music and that it was “cool” of me to send a message.

“Ha! She thinks I’m cool,” I thought to myself. “How good is that?”

But just as I was congratulating myself on my coolness, I managed to ruin all my good work.

Around the time I’d sent the lead singer my supportive message, I was also involved in a Facebook exchange with my brother in America. “Just to let you know, Mum’s telly is on the blink,” I told him.

A reply came back almost immediately but, to my horror, it wasn’t from my brother. It was from the lead singer in my son’s band, saying: “Oh, I’m really sorry to hear about your Mum’s telly. I hope she gets it sorted soon.”

I’d got all mixed up and sent her the message that was meant for my brother.

Naturally, I felt the need to explain myself: “I’m really sorry. That last message should have gone to my brother in America. My Mum’s Sky TV connection is faulty and she’s 86. But I really do like your music and your voice. You’re very talented.”

By this point, I think she may have started thinking that her drummer’s dad is a little bit weird.


THE last Grandad At Large column focused on my humiliation at having to rely on my son to remove the lid from a jar of jalapeno peppers.

It led to the following email from concerned reader Eric Gendle: “Dear Sir, I read your latest column with amusement as always. Could I recommend that that you get a small length of that rubberised material that is used on the tables of ships’ restaurants to stop items sliding about in rough seas. With a piece of this, postcard size is adequate, the lid can be gripped without much effort because of the rubberiness of the cloth... It never fails! We have had our piece for many years. I think we may have bought it somewhere, but no idea where.”

So, I have my solution to the pickle in which I found myself. I just need to book a cruise in rough seas and become a bit light-fingered while the waiters aren’t looking.

MY dear old Mum, meanwhile, says the answer is to “give the lid a couple of good whacks with a dessert spoon and it’ll come off easily”.

I’ve subsequently tried this on a jar of marmalade. It didn’t loosen the lid, but one of our best dessert spoons is now bent.


ALSO in my last column Matt Westcott’s little boy Ethan who suggested that his Daddy should consider being a wrestler instead of being a newspaper man inspired this response from Gavin, of York:

“Last week, my lad and I were playing with his toy spaceship. Me: ‘Look, I’m an astronaut’. Him: ‘No, Daddy, you work in an office and it’s boring’. Ouch.”