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Having a granddad for a mate brings you a bit closer to death.

Byline: By Bob Cuffe

I've reached another stage of the great circle of life. And I didn't even know it. My peculiar friend Graham rang me last week. He rings me every week. I never ring him. This has been the pattern for 30 years And he still keeps ringing. The penny just refuses to drop.

He reads this column. And still he'll ring. Unless he just does it to annoy me. And over those 30 years, the conversation has always gone along the lines of me picking up the phone and Graham saying: "Hi Bob, it's Graham." And then there's silence. Which I feel obliged to fill.

I think me filling the silence encourages Graham to ring again. Like I wanted to talk to him. Which I don't. Anyway we do the Hi Bob, it's Graham thing, and I do the usual start. Which is, almost without exception The Boro.

Over the last 30 years this has generally meant we have a moan together. This time it was about losing 2-0 to Liverpool and not looking like we'd score a goal whilst anyone in Teesside had a hole you know where.

We discussed the imminent game at Manchester United, which, for the uninitiated, is a leading American sports franchise. It was our view that it would be just like the Boro to get a result and when will Ronaldo get a penalty.

We don't like Ronaldo. Me and Graham. We tell each other every time we play United ( just in case either of us has forgotten.

The scintillating conversation then moved on to the Grand National. I bet you wish you'd been part of it, eh? I asked Graham about his job. He asked me about mine.

And then he mentioned Charlie. I asked him who Charlie was. He said it was his grandson, who'd been born a week ago. He didn't think this should have been the first part of our discussion. Or at the very least, ahead of the Grand National. The Liverpool match had been particularly frustrating and was a real hot topic.

So, my mate is a granddad. To Charlie, which is, in fairness, a fantastic name, and I'm told a beautiful little boy, albeit sadly a mag. Granddad Graham. I remember Graham when he was just a chubby ginger boy of 11. And I've watched him become a chubby ginger bloke of 46. And now he's a granddad. Which ages him overnight. And me, simply through association. And our wider circle of friends.

We're all, quite clearly, much closer to death now. We have a granddad amongst us. A chubby, ginger granddad. We're at risk of another falling, as his lad is 22 and a whopper.

It could happen. I know in parts of the region, Graham could be a great granddad, but we're from decent stock. Me more than Graham, but still, decent stock.

I don't want a granddad for a friend. I've got one for a neighbour. That's fine. Absolutely fine. Him being my neighbour doesn't hurt me. It doesn't age me. In fact, as I see him struggling with his wheelie bin, it makes me feel good. My other neighbour has gout. Which also makes me feel good, as I'm a nasty little swine.

Granddads go to Working Men's Clubs. They have false teeth. They wear their trousers just under their armpits. They linger in garden centres. They wear vests, jumpers, shirts and ties in the summer. They do not ring me. They do not chat with me about this, or indeed that. I help granddads across the road. I don't go to the Riverside Stadium with them.

If I became a granddad I wouldn't expect my friends to keep in touch with me. It's just not right. I'd then just hang around with similar old folk. I'd sit in bus shelters, even though I don't want a bus. I'd sit on benches and look at the sea all day. I'd read the papers in libraries. I'd start drinking halves of beer. And I'd have a kip of an afternoon. I'd watch snooker and darts on television. And I'd have a lot of soup.

I'd know the right thing to do. I hope Graham realises we're over. The old git. What else ages you?
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 4, 2007
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