KATE will tell you she is nearly four – if August 14 next year can be termed as ‘nearly’.

She doesn’t have a grandfather so, without consultation, this cute little lady appointed me on a part-time basis. One task I was happy to perform was to drive Kate and her mum, Marie, to Oxford for a day of Christmas shopping.

All was going well down the M40 until one of the large electronic signs warned: ‘Animals on the road. Slow’.

“What sort of animals?” she asked excitedly. (Grandads are expected to be founts of all knowledge.) “It might be cows, horses, sheep, deer...”

“Reindeer!” she shrieked. “Is Father Christmas there?”

“Not reindeer – just deer.”

“It’s nearly Christmas. There might be reindeer.”

For the next few miles we scoured every inch of the road and the fields ahead, Kate to the left and Marie to the right. Nothing. Not even a death-defying badger. Eventually another sign announced the road was clear.

After a lengthy pause, she broke the silence.

“Are you sure you read the other sign properly?”

I repeat, she’s ‘nearly four’.

THE Fireside Tales season at the University Church of St Mary comes to an end next Tuesday with a part performance of the medieval morality play, Everyone, prepared and presented by Dr Liv Robinson, of Brasenose College, and her team of students. It’s worth seeing.

This week we had Professor Tiffany Stern and the use of early puppetry in the Church. All enlightening stuff for someone who sees puppetry starting and ending with Punch, Judy and Andy Pandy.

In and among there has been a series of talks on death. I assure you they are not as morbid as the title might suggest.

No sooner will Everyone be consigned to past successes than St Mary’s education officer Penny Boxall hopes to start planning a series on church music. Meeting Penny, a young creative writer and published poet, in her ‘upper room’, reached by two flights of narrow stairs, was an education in itself. There was work and ideas for work everywhere. A quiet, devoted enthusiast.

At the risk of sounding disrespectful to the established Church, St Mary’s proves there is more to worship than prayer books and constant kneeling.

FINALLY, the return from Oxford with Kate was best described as monosyllabic.

So please can any reader assure me there had been animals on the road on Tuesday morning – that is unless they were reindeer driven by a man in a red outfit.

If this were so, my part-time role would come to an abrupt end.