THE last Grandad At Large instalment finished with the words: “Customer service isn’t what it was.”

That was in response to being let down by the cashier at the petrol station and the young lad on the supermarket check-out. Both of them failed to tell me that the cats’ whiskers, drawn on my face by my grand-daughter, Chloe, during her Halloween visit, hadn’t been washed off.

Well, this week, following two-year-old Chloe’s latest sleepover, I’m even more concerned about customer service.

Egged on by her Auntie Hannah, Chloe set up a book shop in the dining room. There’s a whole wall covered in book-shelves and Chloe was having a great time, pretending they were all for sale.

She had a little till behind the dining table to collect payments, took several orders in person and over the phone from Auntie Hannah, and happily sold a book to her Grandma. 

It looked like good fun, so I decided to call in at the shop to buy a book. After all, I am known as Gandalf (due to the fact that she can’t pronounce Grandad) and he’s a character in one of the most famous books ever written.

“Is this Chloe’s Book Shop?” I asked.
“Yes,” replied Chloe.
“Are you open today?” I went on.
“Yes,” came the answer.
“Can Gandalf buy a book?”
“NO!” she declared and promptly pushed me out of her shop.

Undeterred, I went away and came back with a shiny pound coin. “I’ve come to buy a book,” I said.

Chloe nodded, took my pound and put it in her till. Then she shouted “NO BOOK!” before turning her back to serve Grandma.

This wasn’t going well at all, so I decided to try a telephone order. “Hello, is that Chloe’s Book Shop?” I said down the phone.

She picked up an old mobile phone Auntie Hannah had given her, shouted “NO! GANDALF, NAUGHTY!” and promptly hung up.

Is it any wonder the High Street is dying?


THANK you to the friendly members of the Women’s Catholic League for having me as guest speaker at Penshaw Catholic Club…
Ann Duffy remembered the time she was working as a dinner nanny at Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School when Bishop Ambrose was a visitor.
The Bishop went into a class and asked: “Who knows what I do?”
“You look after all the priests,” replied a little girl.
“That’s very good,” replied the Bishop. “Does anyone have any questions for me?”
“Yes,” declared a little boy. “How many grand bairns have you got?”

TERESA Curran recalled how the head teacher at the same school was testing the little ones’ maths.
“What’s two twos?” he asked.
“A train,” replied a little boy.

TERESA’S son Paul was only four when he was intrigued by his Auntie Gwen breast-feeding her baby.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m giving baby John a drink,” she explained.
“We’ve got taps in our house,” came the reply.

DOROTHY Sweeney was teaching at a primary school in Newbottle and her pupils were excited to hear that she’d had a baby.
One little girl told her mum: “Mrs Sweeney’s had a baby!”
“What’s it called?” asked the mum.
“Oh, it’s something like a cream cake,” came the reply.
Mum was puzzled ‘til she learned the baby’s name was Claire.

DOROTHY also told how two sisters had been asked by their mum what they’d had for school dinner.
“Lither,” replied one sister.
“It wasn’t lither – it was leather,” insisted the other.
To be fair, liver has always been an acquired taste.