THIS ISLAND LIFE TO paraphrase the words of the immortal Baroness Thatcher — we have become a grandfather! Little Betsy Barry came screeching into the world a few days ago, four weeks early yet still managing to tip the scales at 7lbs 12oz.
Goodness knows what she would have weighed had my daughter, Sam, gone full term but it’s quietly pleasing to see the burly Newbery genes already asserting themselves.
As I sat staring endlessly at her (there may be thousands of babies born every day but every one of them is a little miracle) I did what many a doting grandparent has done down the years and thought about the fun we are going to have together.
Will I spoil my granddaughter? You bet your sweet bippy I will.
Will I feel guilty about doing so? Not in the slightest, because that’s a grandparent’s privilege — and one I intend to exploit to the full.
But that does not involve giving little Betsy everything she asks for. After all, grandfathers are supposed to be more than just venerable dispensers of treats and Werther’s Originals.
I will give her something I now have in abundance thanks to the blessings of semi-retirement — my time.
Most parents wonder what their child’s first words will be but Sam is in no doubt.
"Betsy’s won’t be 'mumma’ or 'dadda’," she assured my wife recently, "it will be 'well granddad said I could …’"
Everyone reckons it’s much easier being a grandparent than a parent, because you can always hand them back when the going gets noisy and a bit smelly.
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, what is now termed a 'new man’ (I’m partly refurbished at best) but as far as little Betsy is concerned, I’m in it for the whole experience.
I will do my shift at the messy end when the need arises and, in return, she will be my excuse to revisit places such as Blackgang Chine, Osborne House, Carisbrooke Castle and the dinosaur museum (not to be confused with Ventnor CC pavilion).
Neither of my kids inherited my love of cricket, so I will try again with the next generation.
But if little Betsy also fails to appreciate the exquisite beauty of a classic cover drive (and breath will not be held on that one) I will be ready to attune myself to the direction in which her interests take her.
Perhaps she will develop a fondness for music, politics, nature, horses, dance, or even the stage. After all, the name Betsy Barry does have a chirpy, music-hall ring to it and she may one day end up wowing them down at the Old Bull and Bush.
But as far as the first Betsy Barry Show is concerned, let the credits roll.
Our love and thanks to the producer, Samantha Barry; assistant producer, John Barry, director Dr Oo and the wonderful supporting cast in the maternity unit at St Mary’s.
'Big Society’ has been here for years
WHEN David Cameron first launched the 'Big Society’, he must have been thrilled his battalions of focus groups and think-tanks had come up with such a spiffing idea.However, had he been more aware of the real world (ie, one in which people have to get by without the advantages of inherited wealth and a private education) he would have known that communities have been thriving on mutual support and voluntary help for decades.
One such is Ventnor, where the cricket club has become one of the best in the south on the back of 40 years’ unstinting effort by people who have also found time to help several other deserving causes, such as St Catherine’s School and the Rotary club.
This, in turn, has helped develop a mutually supportive network in the town, in which people have come to realise the effort they put in on behalf of others ultimately benefits their own chosen organisation.
It is this successful concept which has given rise to the first Ventnor Town Day, which will be held at Steephill on Monday week.
It will take the form of a mini-music festival and karaoke competition for the Martha Chapman Cup.
It’s a tribute to a well-known character in the town, who enjoyed nothing more than belting out her favourite hits at every available opportunity. There will be plenty of entertainment for the kids and the event takes place between 1pm and 6pm at one of the prettiest cricket grounds in the land.
This Sunday, the cricket club is staging Walk the Whites, a sponsored sashay around the town in which Malc Lawrence and I will be taking part.
As the old chap is a martyr to arthritis, we will be completing the trek with the aid of a wheelchair — me the pusher and he the pushee. Lou and Andy disguises are being sought out as we speak.
As the route includes an ascent of the Cascades, anyone with a block and tackle or small crane would be especially welcome.