AT the fair old age of 86, my mum is a great grandma in every sense.

She has more energy in her little finger than I can muster in my whole body, and long may it continue.

For example, she uses an old-fashioned manual lawn-mower to maintain her own garden and it’s much admired by anyone who sees it. She’s also known for riding her trusty bike everywhere, including down the hill and back again to pick up her shopping.

When the country was hit by the blizzards from The Beast From The East, I called her up to ask if she was OK but I needn’t have worried.

“I’m fine,” she replied. “I’ve fed the birds, swept my path and delivered the papers to the old people down the street.”

The “old people” she refers to are in their 70s, but she likes to save them a trip to the shop in the cold weather.

If I were a betting man, I’d take even money that she’ll reach 100. That said, I’m sure she could do without the kind of shock I gave her the other day… One of her neighbours had given her a slide to pass on to our grand-daughter Chloe. Their own children had grown out of it, and it’s still as good as new, so it came as a welcome addition to the little playground we’re creating in our back garden.

I collapsed the seats in my car to transport it to our house and positioned it next to the swing that Chloe loves to play on whenever she visits us.

“Oh, Chloe’s going to love that,” said my wife, admiringly.

I was keen for my Mum to know that the swing had been appreciated so I sent her a text, saying: “Heather’s dead chuffed with the slide.”

Well, that’s what the text was supposed to say but, because I’m always in too much of a rush, I pressed “send” before I’d intended. This meant that my Mum received a rather alarming message from me, saying: “Heather’s dead.”

Like I said, my Mum’s as fit as a fiddle, but the shock might easily have finished her off. I frantically tried to intercept my premature text by phoning her. She wasn’t answering so I had to leave the following message: “Sorry, mum, I’ve just send you a text, saying Heather’s dead. She isn’t – she’s absolutely fine. I just sent the text too early – it was meant to say she’s dead chuffed with the slide. Repeat – Heather’s not dead.”

Anyway, it’s all sorted now. My Mum’s mightily relieved, my wife’s never felt better, and Chloe loves her new slide. I’ve also promised my Mum that, if my wife happens to die, I’ll drive over and tell her in person rather than send a text.


WE were all together for a family wedding at the weekend and quote of the day came from my dear old Mum.

“When do we throw the spaghetti?” she asked as the guests lined up with their boxes of confetti.


AT a meeting of Monkton Flower Club in Jarrow, Denise Dickinson cringed as she told the members of the time she was in B&Q in South Shields with daughter Gemma when she was a toddler.

Gemma wandered off and there was momentary panic until Denise turned round to see Gemma sitting on the toilet in the showroom, having a wee.

Gripped with embarrassment, Denise grabbed Gemma and pulled up her knickers, only for the little girl to remonstrate: “But I haven’t washed my hands!”

“No wonder B&Q closed in South Shields,” chipped in Lynda Gregory.

DENISE also recalled the time she was fostering three children at a time when her husband Len used to enjoy dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas.

The oldest child, Keith, aged ten, had told the younger ones that Santa didn’t exist, so Len told Denise to make sure they were looking out of the window at 8pm.

“I couldn’t believe it when I opened the curtainsthere was Santa bouncing up and down on the trampoline,” she said.

THE aforementioned Lynda Gregory remembered the time her little boy Gerald, seven or so at the time, was going around the house singing: “Go and get stuffed.”

“That’s not very nice, Gerald,” she told him but the little boy insisted he was simply singing the number one song in the charts.

The mystery was solved when Billy Ocean came on the radio, singing: “When the going gets tough.”

AND then there was the time Lynda was teaching and her class was taken on a trip to a farm.

The owner of the farm told the children: “One of the cows has had a calf.”

At this point, a little girl called Maisie, who had a habit of fantasising, chirped up by saying: “I’ve got one too.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s true, is it?” interjected Lynda.

“Yes, it is,” insisted Maisie, who went on to demonstrate with a loud cough.