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Little boys are so cute, especially when they are very young (like two of my grandsons – Joey, who is 3 and Harrison, who is 6 years old). And they are so ‘matter of fact’ as well at that sort of age.

For the past couple of years I have been carrying out my grandfatherly duties (one of the great pleasures of my life actually) by picking them up from nursery and school a couple of times each week. It makes a welcome change for them (as well as me of course) to have the opportunity to be walked home (instead of being strapped up in a seat belt and whisked home by car).

And these walks take the best part of an hour (by the time I have picked them both up from their separate schools)

And what do we do while we amble our happy way back to (their) home? Talk! Chat! Non-stop, all the way back (as opposed to being ‘tied up’ in the back of the car and being told to be quiet – no disrespect to their mum and dad of course – they have to concentrate on their driving).

And talk, and talk, and talk we do: about anything and everything

On one particular/recent occasion Harrison noticed that my (right) thumb nail was turning black. ‘Pop. What’s happened to your thumb?’ Joey turned and looked at it and was amazed – he’d never seen a blackened thumbnail before. ‘Well boys, I had an accident.” “What! Did a car run it over?” “No, no. Nothing like that. Just a little accident at home.

But you boys have to be careful you know, because something like this could easily happen to you too you know.” “Like what Pop? What happened?” “Well, you know the big set of double doors at ‘The Folly’ (my family home in Ledbury) that open out onto the veranda, overlooking my garden?” “Yes Pop.” “Well, the other day I opened up one of those doors because it was a sunny day and it was getting very hot inside. But then it got rather windy a little bit later, so I decided to shut it again.

And then I did something that was rather silly of me

And I hope you boys don’t do anything as silly as I did.” “What did you do that was silly Pop?” “Well, I leant out of the door and, because it had opened so wide it was right back against the wall of the house. So I grabbed hold of the frame of the door with my right hand (the one with the now-blackened thumbnail) and stretched and reached around with my left hand to pull the door back. But then a gust of wind caught the door and slammed it shut all by itself! With my right hand still holding onto the frame! And my right thumb was squashed between the door and the frame!”

“Wow” said Harrison “that must have hurt! Did you cry Pop?”

Joey looked up at me (wondering if I was going to ‘cry again’ just by recounting the tale). But to his and his big brother’s amazement (and disappointment/admiration) I admitted that no, I didn’t cry. (We blokes are very stoical aren’t we? Well, some of us are anyway). Anyway, after a few short minutes of silent walking (and pondering on their behalf), Harrison asked me if my thumbnail would soon be better.

“No Harrison, it will never be better. In fact it will soon drop off.” “And then will you have no thumbnail?” “No Harrison, I will grow a new one.”

Upon hearing this, Joey started skipping up the street singing “Pop’s thumb is going to drop off! Pop’s thumb is going to drop off…” And what did Harrison do? He turned to me and (in all seriousness – or was it mockery?) said “That would mean you wouldn’t be able to pick things up with your right hand would you Pop!”

P.S. They are still waiting for my thumbnail to drop off - before their very eyes of course!

Meet The Author...
Jimmy Bates
Who Am I?

A grammar school boy from a working class family, Jimmy Bates has had a chequered career. Before becoming a writer he worked in a variety of jobs, then graduated with an honours degree in electronics, emigrated and became a scientist in Canada and then a director of the same hi-tech company in the U.S.A. He returned to England in 1980 and spent 25 years as a management consultant and held directorships of several high-technology companies before retiring and taking up writing full-time. His interests are history, sociology, science & technology and music. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, spent all of his school years in Stoke-on-Trent, is married has six children (all grown up now), four grandchildren and has lived in Herefordshire for the past 25 years. His books (www.jimmybates.com) include:

My Blog...


ONE WRONG TURN: The amazing story of how one single bullet started The First World War

Are You Still Quizzical Joan?: How to run successful quiz nights and raise money for charity

SatNav Rules, OK?: A humorous novel of how modern technology can affect modern society

Fancy a Game of Darts Our Youth? A step-by-step guide on how to play (including humorous personal anecdotes)

Kick out the Brits!: A real-life family ‘US road trip of-a-lifetime’

To Death and Beyond: Short stories of real near-death experiences


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A 3-book fictional story of a serial killer

The Last Scrap: Factual account from turbulent teenage years to a caring father-figure to the next generation.

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