Today’s column is addressed more to youngsters than older folk: It starts with old people living quite comfortably in retirement receiving a letter from a son or daughter settled abroad, inviting them over for a holiday. “A holiday!” They both shout and start packing, though at the back of their heads they wonder if their locked home will be safe, who will look after their dogs or cats, their plants, and that most certainly they are going to miss their friends and maybe evenings at the club.

And so they go and come back disappointed, whispering, “We are just glorified nannies for our grandchildren!” they sniff.

I talked to a first timer who had heard his children wanted him in America:

"So what d'you plan to do in the States?" I asked the old man as he practiced walking round the house in a new pair of shorts he'd bought.

"Well my son said he's going to take us to see the Niagara on his day off!"

"He's always wanted to see the Niagara!" said his wife of many years as she shyly comes and stands next to him in jeans she's getting used to.

"And then I'd like to visit Washington!"

"Abraham Lincoln has been my husband's hero from his childhood!"

"My son knows that," says the old man proudly, "and he's promised to take me round to the Lincoln Memorial and even Ford Theatre where Abe was shot dead!"

"Don't try to do what John Wilkes Booth did! Jumping from the balcony onto the stage!" laughed his wife

"Ah! We're just waiting to get there!" said the old man patting down his shorts.

I wish them goodbye and after their house is bolted and locked, they come over to give me the key, "We might not come back!" they say, "but just open and air our place once in a while!"

They're back in two months.

"How was Niagara and the Lincoln Memorial?" I ask.

"We didn't see anything! We had to get up early every morning and husband dear would take the newspaper to the nursery and sit by the cradle till the baby wakes up!

"I couldn't even rustle the papers for fear of waking the child!" said the old man rustling his newspapers furiously. "And if it woke too early the mite cried through the day! It's nice to be back!"

"No babies!"

"No screaming children!"

"No rushing to meet the school bus!"

"No whipping them up breakfast, lunch, dinner and ."

"Snacks, snacks and snacks!"

"I don't think you enjoyed being granny," I said.

"I'm a granny not a nanny!" shouts the old lady and I watch as her husband stands defiantly by her..!

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