i Editor's Letter: The great-grandparents' club


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The Independent Online


Dad rock? More like great- grandad rock. The news (and I use the word loosely) that Mick Jagger and Bianca Jagger are to become great-grandparents at the ages of 70 and 68 stopped me still. Not because of their relative youth, albeit remarkable. It threw me back three decades, to being led round Berkhamsted Castle by my own great-grandfather, Grandpa Sid, with a Highland terrier in tow.

I was lucky enough to know four of my great-grandparents when I was little, all of them born at the turn of the century. On the family’s maternal side, Nanna Ricketts and Nanna Dobie would find a spare pound coin for you to go to Mrs White’s corner shop to buy sweets.

Dad’s grandparents, meanwhile, lived long into their 90s and even bought us our first games console (a Sega Megadrive). Gran Olive would spirit us off to the pantry while Mum wasn’t looking to chain-feed us those pink wafer biscuits, before moving on to the chocolate ones. As for Grandpa Sid, demanding, as the Test cricket blared away, to know where his glasses were – normally perched atop his head – may I still have a twinkle in my eye and such a big heart if I live to 60, let alone my late 90s. One of my favourite photographs, from about 1986, shows four generations of Duff boys in a line.

Although becoming a great-grandparent is still like joining an exclusive club, it is much less exclusive than it used to be, owing to improved diet and healthcare. Mine showered me with love, and offered a depth of family history - not to mention a link to the Victorian era - that I’d otherwise have missed. Lucky little Jagger-to-be.