SOME of my happiest memories of being a dad are of the kids dressing up and expecting me to join in.

There was the time our eldest, Christopher, had a pirate party and I had to be an eye-patched Long John Silver, tied to the garage door, and pelted with water-bombs.

It was marginally preferable to having to be a bucking bronco on a bouncy castle while the kids took it in turn to be cowboys. Despite being relatively young in those days, I’ve never felt so knackered.

Then I was required to be Lois Lane while they played Superman games. That was a bit embarrassing even for a method actor like me.
Oh, and how could I forget the day they invited their friends to their “cinema” in our lounge, with the curtains closed, bowls of popcorn, and a Pocahontas video showing. 

“Dad, we need an usherette,” announced Christopher and, with my wife’s help, I ended up standing in a corner in the dark, holding a tray full of Strawberry Splits from the freezer, and waiting for the intermission. None of them paid and one little boy had a tantrum because I didn’t sell Ninety-Nines.

Anyway, yet again, life is beginning to turn full circle. As she approaches her second birthday, our little grand-daughter, Chloe, is suddenly into dressing-up. These days, when she comes for a visit, she can be anything from Superwoman to a doctor, complete with white coat and stethoscope.

I haven’t been too well lately, and it was a real tonic to see Doctor Chloe come through the door the other day and for her Dad to announce that she’d come to make Grandad better. Mind you, I only got a cursory wave of the stethoscope before she toddled off in search of Grandma.

Apart from being a doctor, Chloe’s other current fascination is with going into space – and her spaceship just happens to be under the dining room table. She likes to take passengers with her to the moon and it’s becoming more and more surreal, or even out of this world.

“Space, space…moon, moon,” she shouted at the weekend and that was the signal for Grandma, Auntie Hannah, Uncle Jack and Uncle Max to boldly go under the table. These are all grown-ups but there they were, cross-legged under the table, wearing tin foil space helmets.

No-one likes being left out so how could I resist joining in? It’s a pretty big dining table but there wasn’t much room left. Nevertheless, I made a helmet and attempted to make my way onto the spaceship.

“NO! NO!” shouted Chloe, blocking my entrance and pushing me out.
“Is Grandad a nasty alien?” she was asked by her Auntie Hannah.

“Yes,” came the reply.

I was over the moon to become a grandad but, increasingly, I feel I belong on another planet.


IT was a pleasure to do the Grandad At Large talk to Scorton Women’s Institute last week and I’m especially grateful to farmer’s wife, Libby Barker, for the classic that follows.

In years gone by, when Libby’s daughter Nicola was about to move up to juniors, she had to keep a diary at school and write down things she’d done each day.

At the time, her dad Chris kept bullocks in a field the family would pass on their swimming sessions at Richmond baths, and they’d always stop to check on the animals.

Imagine Libby’s horror when a teacher showed her Nicola’s diary and the latest entry: “We spent Sunday morning inspecting daddy’s bollocks.”

I ALSO heard how Thomas Eardley, when he was four, passed a herd of Highland Cattle in a field and asked: “Why have those cows got bananas in their ears.”

THANKS also to committee member Liz Atkinson for her memory about her son Guy swallowing his dinner money at school. Wouldn’t it have been perfect if she’d telephoned the hospital to check his condition and been told there was no change…