HOW come I’m always having to splash out? No one else in our house ever seems to have any money so I’m always being tapped up.

Yet another example came when I decided to organise a sweep for The Masters golf tournament at the back end of last week.

Friends and family were invited to stick a fiver in the kitty and pick six players out of a hat. With 21 participants, the lowest accumulative score would win a handsome total pot of £105.

My youngest son Max, daughter Hannah, and wife Heather were keen to among the entries but, par for the course, none of one of them had any dosh.

“Can you lend me £5?” each of them asked in turn. The trouble is that, in our house, the word “lend” means “give”. As organiser of the sweep, I didn’t enter in order to avoid a conflict of interest, and yet I’d still had to chip in £15 before a ball had been struck.

Running a sweep involving 21 players is a complicated business. My wife, who’s good at such things, produced a spread-sheet to help me keep track of the players and I painstakingly recorded their scores, with regular updates emailed to everyone who’d entered.

I quickly began to realise that I’d created a monster. For four nights in a row, I didn’t get to bed before 1.30am. Stupid, I know, but once you’ve started something, you’ve got to finish it.

At around 9.30pm on Sunday, with the final round heading towards an exciting climax, I was busily making sure my spreadsheet was up to date when I felt a drop of water land on my head. Another drop landed on my keyboard, then three more splattered onto the dining room table. It sounded like it was raining heavily outside and it crossed my mind that someone must have left a window open.

Suddenly, a puddle began to form on the floor and I looked up to see water dripping through an overhead light fitting. And that’s when my blood turned to ice as I remembered with horror that I’d started running a bath half an hour ago. The leaders had only been halfway round, and I’d decided to have a break from the spreadsheet, so I’d turned on the taps, stuck the plug in, and popped back downstairs to watch a bit more of the action while the bath filled up.

I’d then become utterly engrossed in the golf and completely forgotten about the bath. As the trickle turned into a torrent, I flew upstairs to discover a flood.

Understandably, my wife was pretty teed off. The bathroom carpet was ruined, the floorboards were sodden, the downstairs lights were on the blink, and several towels had to be used to mop up the mess.

For the record, my son won the £105 with my £5 stake – but I’m obviously going to be splashing out again.


AT a meeting of Startforth Lunch Club the other day, Liz Franklin remembered the time grand-daughter Phoebe came home from primary school with the dramatic news that her class had been learning about parts of the body.

Her mum tentatively asked for more detail and was told: “We’ve been learning about the difference between boys and girls.”

Her mum took a deep breath and asked for further clarification: “Well, we’ve found out that a boy has a penis and a girl has…oh, it’s something beginning with ‘V’…I can’t remember…oh, hang on…I think it’s a Venn diagram.”

ON another occasion, in the run-up to Christmas, Phoebe blurted out: “I’m so excited, I’ve forgotten how to sleep.”

THANKS also to Terry Storey, of Darlington, for letting me know about the days, before his knees began to creak, when he used to regularly go hillwalking with his eldest grandson, Michael.

One day, Michael blurted out: "Grandad, can we do the West Highland Way before you get too old and decrepit.”

“He's currently looking for a job as an apprentice motor mechanic, which is just as well since I don't think he has a future in the Diplomatic Service,” said Terry.