CONTRARY to opinions held in some quarters, I am not in my second childhood nor am I experiencing a mid-life crisis – it’s a bit late for that.

The decision to swap my car was taken for economic reasons. My nine-year-old ‘sensible’ family hatchback had served me well but was starting to become expensive.

When the dealer offered a reasonable part-exchange figure I accepted and am now the proud owner of silver sports coupé, twin exhausts and all that.

“You’ll never get out of it,” said number one son, Mark. “Remember your difficulties on the dodgems?”

“That’s if you can get in without splitting your head on the door frame,” added his younger brother, David, who compounded his insult by handing me a CD on the driving theory test, pointing out that when I passed, it was all hand signals and hill starts.

Even though she felt obliged to warn about excessive speed, my daughter Kelly was the most encouraging – which was more than I got from two of her sons, Louis and George, aged ten and eight respectively.

“Grandads don’t drive cars like that,” said the younger one as I pulled on my flat cap, a useful aid to combating the sun’s winter glare.

“You look like an old farmer in somebody else’s car,” was his brother’s contribution.

I drove off determined not to be discouraged.

Half an hour later I stopped outside a newsagent’s where I could get my copy of the Oxford Mail.

The pavement was excessively higher than the road.

Fortunately a teenager was on hand to haul me out when he saw there was something of a struggle.

Ah well...

ANYONE who doubts the enjoyment generated by pantomime should have been with me as the columns of primary school children left the Playhouse Theatre at Tuesday lunchtime.

With the eyes of their teachers upon them, their behaviour was exemplary. But it only needed me to ask one of the youngsters if he had cheered and booed, and the entire group erupted with cries of pleasure accompanied by the many ‘action replays’ we always expect from the young.

As this year’s run of Robin Hood draws to a close, it is fair to say the eighth panto, written and directed by old Blue Peter favourite, Peter Duncan, was a great success.

See you again later this year, Peter? I hope so. THE devastating floods offer little to smile about, but the comments of one self-confessed great-grandmother was a welcome break. She had obliged a Queen Street pollster with a lengthy string of answers to what seemed an even lengthier string of questions.

“Where do you live?” she was asked.

“Abingdon on Sea,” was the reply. “I'm about to catch the boat home.”