D’ya hear yer man

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Not throwing stones

I used to give my dad an awful lot of stick in this column.

I haven’t pilloried him in quite some time and just this week I realised why.

Dad turned 64 on Wednesday and I was gearing up for a monster slagging until it dawned on me that I’m in no position to cast the first stone.

In a moment of clarity I realised I’m well on the way to becoming my dad.

Lucy was in the process of climbing up on her highchair to gain access to the remainder of her dinner which was no doubt going to be used to redecorate the living room. I watched her with a smile on my face before deciding intervention was necessary. I scooped her up by the waist and set her down on terra firma. As I explained to her the dangers of her actions she looked at me blankly then as soon as my back was turned she attempted to make the climb for a second time with the same result. This time I gave her a slightly sterner lecture and made amendments to the kitchen layout to insure she couldn’t do it again.

It struck me that I’d experienced a very similar situation many years ago, with myself in the role of mischievous infant and my dad as the strong-armed guardian.

Much as it amuses me to see my offspring push themselves to their limits in exploration and physical capabilities, there comes a time when you have to step in and play the role of ‘fun spoiler’.

I cast my mind back to all those lectures from my dad about ‘horsing around’, ‘playing the fool’ and ‘acting the lig’ and accepted that it was all for my own good even when it seemed like it wasn’t.

Ironically, now that I’ve taken on the task of ‘spirit dampening’, my dad has rekindled a new found passion for tomfoolery.

While the role of a parent is to keep one’s child safe from harm and establish some kind of routine, the main function of a grandparent appears to be to spoil their grandchildren rotten and let them make mayhem.

I imagined I was going to be the sort of parent who would allow their children to stay up late watching Bond movies and drinking Um Bongo, but I’ve come to realise that I’m the one that has to clean their bums and read them bedtime stories. It is the grandparents who get to do the Bond/Um Bongo duties.

That’s not to say I don’t know how to have a laugh with my children. It’s just I also have to know when to call a halt to merriment and address issues like protein-intake and hydration.

While her granddad presents the dustpan and brush to Lucy as a toy I’m left with the altogether more difficult task of explaining to her the concept of order and cleanliness.

And it’s not just childminding that has made me realise my dad and I have swapped roles.

Recently I decided that there was far too much redundant music on my iPod. After a bout of ruthless whittling I reduced the content to what was basically the greatest hits compendium of all my favourite musicians. In the space of a few months I’d transformed my music collection in to that of my father’s - a man who as a matter of course had only purchased ‘Best Ofs’ and compilation CDs.

In a bizarre twist I’m the one listening to ‘Greatest Hits’ while dad, thanks to Lucy, has become a fan of cutting edge artists such as Rastamouse and the Zingzillas.

Much as I’d love to take the mickey out of my dad, I’m not going to. Since establishing that my actions are mirroring those of my father many years ago, I’ve decided I should abide by the proverb that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

However, if Lucy wanted to throw stones in a glass house I’m quite sure her granddad would let her.

Joking around

A can of Lynx and a can of Sure are sitting side by side on the shelf in a pharmacy. When the shutters go down at night the cans jump down from their shelves and create havoc in the pharmacy - teasing the hairspray, knocking over the toothpaste and playing tricks on the athlete’s foot cream.

Then one day someone comes into the shop and buys the can of Lynx and the can of Sure. That night when the shutters go down one of the tubes of toothpaste says, “Thank goodness that pair of aerosols are gone.”

Weekly teaser

The answer to last week’s teaser was: Lance sings ‘Happy Birthday’ - an instantly recognisable song which can be modified to include any name under the sun.

Here’s this week’s teaser: A man hiked on a path through the woods with his dog and as they walked they were followed by three coyotes, six wolf cubs, seven bunnies, nine squirrels and thirteen chipmunks. How many feet in total were there on the path?