OF all the people I have loved in my life, Roger Federer is right up there.

Apart from my wife, children, mum, dad and brothers, I think I love him most. And to be quite honest, I’m not that sure about my brothers.

So, imagine my distress on Sunday when Roger played in the Wimbledon singles final and I had to go and see “Milkshake Monkey’s Musical” at the theatre with my wife and granddaughter.

“Would you like to go and see Milkshake Monkey’s Musical with Chloe,” my wife had said weeks ago.

“Yes, that sounds fun,” I replied, without thinking. When I discovered that Fireman Sam and Noddy would also be in the show, I was ever keener.

But all of that was before I realised that it clashed with the Wimbledon final and Roger – my Roger – was playing his nemesis, Novak Djokovic.

To be fair, my wife had said I could stay home and watch the tennis if I wanted to – but I knew it was a trap. I could have said “Oh, thanks, that’s really understanding of you,” but I’d have spent the next fortnight in the doghouse for being a bad grandad.

Federer and Djokovic had reached 6-6 in the first set when we had to set off for the theatre. Leaving Roger was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but I gritted my teeth and pressed the record button.

For the next hour or so, instead of applauding thundering aces, magnificent passing shots, and deft volleys, I found myself clapping along to Milkshake Monkey and his friends. Instead of shouting “Come on Roger,” I found myself instinctively yelling “Hello Noddy” without anyone having to prompt me. At one point, we all had to stand up and wiggle.

But by far the best part of the show for me was watching the joy on Chloe’s face as the characters she’d seen on the telly came to life in front of her eyes. “Milkshake Monkey’s real!” she gasped.

She sang, she clapped, she danced, and she waved the illuminated fairy wand we'd bought her during the interval. In the second half, she plucked up courage to go down to the front of the stage with Grandma to get closer to the action.

I stayed in my seat, resisted the temptation to check the Wimbledon score on my phone, and obeyed instructions to give Fireman Sam a wave goodbye when his guest appearance was over.

(Don’t tell anyone, but I’m guessing that Noddy and Fireman Sam were played by the same person because only one of them came on for the finale. Either that or Noddy was in his dressing room watching the tennis.)

Back home, having managed to avoid any news from Wimbledon, I watched the match from six all in the first set. Despite losing the first set, Roger was undoubtedly the better player. He took Djokovic to a fifth set and my heart soared as he reached the point of victory.

It was one of the most crushing disappointments of my life when two match points came and went, and Djokovic somehow won in a deciding tie-break.

I’ll always love Roger. But I love Chloe even more.


MANY thanks to Lorraine Spencer, of Barnard Castle, for letting me know that her four-year-old grandson asked: “Nana – is shampoo actually made out of poo?”

THANK you also to Gavin, from York, who got in touch to tell me how his four-year-old is adamant that “fruit and fibre” contains “fruits and fivers”. If only…

GAVIN is a former journalist and his little one also asked the question: “Daddy, when you wrote stories in the newspaper, did they have to be true or did you just make up pretend stories?” He declined to comment.