WHETHER you happen to be a dad or a grandad, it makes no difference – you’ve got to be prepared to get into character.

Over the years as a dad, the list became pretty extensive. Off the top of my head I was a cop, robber, cowboy, Indian, pirate, spaceman, alien, and bucking broncho.

I remember playing Superman and having to be Lois Lane, trapped on top of a burning building.

There was even the time I had to be a cinema usherette. The kids put a poster in the window declaring: “POCAHONTAS SHOWING TODAY, 2PM, ADMISSION FREE.” A row of chairs was arranged in front of the TV, the curtains were closed to make it dark, and the video shown in full.

For well over an hour, I had to stand in the corner, holding a tray full of Strawberry Splits, until it was time for the intermission. Not one of them paid – and a little boy at the end of the queue had a tantrum because I didn’t sell Ninety-Nines!

But, in all my years as a dad, I was never expected to turn into a weatherman – a new role I’m having to master as a grandad.

Whenever Chloe comes round her house these days, it’s not long before the cry goes up: “Gandad, Gandad – make weathers?”

Let me tell you here and now that no TV weather presenter –Michael Fish, Carol Kirkwood, Ian McCaskill, John Ketley, Sian Lloyd or Tomasz Shafernaker – has ever had it quite as hard as yours truly.

They just have to make sense of the isobars, and ensure the right symbols are in place on the map, whereas I have to make the weather happen all my myself.

It starts with Chloe taking shelter in her fairytale castle, with “Ganma” usually having to squeeze in beside her. The approaching bad weather is signalled by the lights being switched off to make it gloomy. That’s followed by a roll of thunder – played by me on an old set of bongo drums. Then we have a few flashes of lighting with the lights being switched on and off (it’s only a matter of time before I blow the fuses). The excitement builds with strong winds battering the castle. This involves me blowing loudly while shaking the frame of the castle until the residents are screaming inside.

Then it’s the wildly exciting climax as I create a rainstorm by ingeniously flicking water from a beaker in through the windows as the screams grow ever louder.

Chloe isn’t satisfied unless the storm carries on for at least 20 minutes so I’m constantly having to run back to the kitchen to fetch more rain, flash the lighting, bang on the bongos, and huff and puff like the Big bad Wolf.

“More weathers, Gandad, more weathers,” Chloe giggles.

She’s the sunshine of my life – but I think we might be in for a long period of high pressure.


BIG thanks to the people of Croft-on-Tees for welcoming me as guest speaker in their splendid new village hall last week.

My favourite story came from ex-teacher Viv Waugh who remembered the time her class found out it was her birthday.

A little boy wanted to make her a card but couldn't spell her name.

"Just copy it from the sign on the door," he was told.

The card read: "HAPPY BRITHDAY MRS EXIT.".

VIV also recalled a music lesson where one little boy in the front row had a snotty nose.

As Viv sang and played the guitar, and the children banged away on percussion, the boy interrupted to ask if he could go to the toilet to get a tissue.

She was mightily relieved until he came back with tissue stuffed in both ears.

“I can’t stand the noise, Miss,” he declared.

THANKS also to another member of the audience at Croft for putting the ageing process in perspective.

Anne – she didn’t want to reveal her surname – was looking for a toy under the bed with her four-year-old grandson, Charlie.

“Help me up, Charlie – my knees have gone,” she said after locating the missing toy.

Charlie peered closely at his Grandma’s legs and reassured her: “No, they’re not, Nanna – they’re still there.”