When he was a hospital chaplain, he had literally to gird his loins before entering the geriatric ward. `They're at just the right level in wheelchairs,' he explained

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Harvest Festival and Christmas must be low spots in the calendar for the old people who live within visiting distance of our primary school. At Harvest Festival they get all the tins of Spam and sandwich spread donated by parents (usually still bearing the tombola ticket from the summer fair), and then at Christmas the geriatrics at the local hospital are dragged from the day room and expected to smile sweetly as Year Six squawk their way through a medley of festive hits.

But they are starting to fight back. This year, my son reported with a certain amount of hurt pride, one old woman in the front row sat through the whole concert tapping her feet to a different tune: she was plugged in to a Walkman. That, however, was fairly tame behaviour compared to the heckling my older son got when his class went to do their bit. "This is crap! Crap! Stop the show," shouted an otherwise sweet little old lady at the back as they struggled to hit the high notes of "Silent Night" without the aid of rubber bands. The local vicar confirms that old people just do not know how to behave these days. "Religion and sex," he confides darkly, "are always the last to go." When he was a hospital chaplain, he had literally to gird his loins before entering the geriatric ward. "They're at just the right level in wheelchairs," he explained with reference to his groin. "I would be murmuring "the body of Christ" and they'd reply "I bet you've got a big willy." Must start going to church - I'm told he gives good sermon too.

New Labour, new pantomime villains. Once a year, just to remind myself of why teachers need at least 12 weeks' holiday, I accompany a school trip; but I choose well, avoiding anything that might involve too much interaction with the pupils (so difficult to like other people's children isn't it?). This time it was a production of The Pied Piper at the wonderful little Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. The villain of the piece was a Spin Doctor, chillingly modelled on Peter Mandelson. It may have gone over the children's heads but it certainly frightened us grown-ups.

I don't know what Father Christmas made of my children's lists. There can't be many 11-year-olds who want a thermometer for Christmas - one of those gun ones that you stick in your ear. We had to have the doctor round to him yesterday as his temperature had reached previously unscaled heights. (I wasn't too worried because he hadn't lost his sense of drama - "I'm going to sleep now - probably for the last time" he croaked. "And when I die will you have a room full of photographs of me?")

Having failed to reach any other diagnosis, the doctor - in that smugly provocative way they have - pronounced that he was inclined to think "that this is the first real case of flu I have seen this year". No, he insisted, the flu my son had two weeks ago was not real flu - and why not? Because I had not called the doctor, and parents always call the doctor when their children have flu.

I hope Ffion is an optimist. I read all the newspaper gush at the weekend eulogising her "hour-glass figure". An optimist would say that referred to a small waist. A pessimist would say it meant a big bottom.

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