IT is possibly the worst memory I have of my time as a dad and, to my dying day, I’ll cringe at the thought…

Several years ago, after a snowfall, I took my eldest son, Christopher, out sledging. It’s what dads do – have fun with their kids by sliding down slopes to whoops of delight. Well, it didn’t quite turn out to be the idyllic image of fatherhood that I’d imagined.

Christopher built his confidence over the first few descents and was ready to go it alone down the fastest part of the hill.

“Look, there’s a bump near the bottom and you’ll fly over it,” I told him, confidently.

He launched himself from the top, picked up speed, flew over the bump, landed in a tangle of limbs, and immediately started screaming so loudly that birds scattered from a nearby tree.

To my eternal shame, I assumed he was being a drama queen so I shouted at him to stop making such a fuss. Despite him continuing to moan and groan, I told him to climb back up the hill, clamber over a fence, and get in the car.

It was only when we got back to the house that my more sympathetic wife decided he should be checked at hospital and I recall sighing deeply on the basis that she was over-reacting. Well, she wasn’t. It turned out that his leg was broken to the extent that it needed to be pinned. If memory serves me right, I ended up writing “SORRY – DAD” in black felt-tip on his pot.

Like I said, this all happened a long time ago now, but let’s just say I’ve never been allowed to live it down. I will be forever remembered as the dad who made his son climb a hill – and a fence – with a broken leg.

Anyway, a lot of snowflakes have fallen since then and these days I’m a Grandad, with a lot more experience under my belt. Life continues to turn full circle and, in the wake of The Beast from The East, I went sledging with my little grand-daughter Chloe – Christopher’s daughter – last week.

She’s only 15 months old so we kept away from the steep slope where her Dad had made such a scene all those years ago. She happily went down a gentler slope, sitting on his knee, giggling all the way, and making it clear she wanted to go “again, again”.

Christopher’s discovering that it’s hard work being a dad and he was soon exhausted, so it was my turn. I sat on the sledge and Chloe was lowered down to me. Immediately, a look of horror spread across her face. She began to cry and demanded to be lifted back out of the sledge.

“Chloe ride with Grandad?” coaxed Christopher, but it just made her cry even louder.

I have a horrible feeling my reputation goes before me.


“EVERY day’s Mother’s Day for me because you call me every day.” My Mum, 86, last Sunday. All together now – aaaah!


THANKS to David Carroll, of Durham, for telling me about his six-year-old son Sam’s confusion over where food comes from: “We’ve run out of sausages,” David announced.

“Well, you need to grow some more,” replied Sam.

THANKS also to Susan Johnson, from Sunderland, for a sweet little anecdote about her son Matthew, aged eight, but going on 18.

“Mum, there are two pigeons in the tree. I think one’s a man and one’s a woman and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s hitting on her because he keeps flapping his wings in her face.”