I ENTERED the last year of my 60s this week – thanks for all the cards and presents – and had cause to celebrate my status as father of four and grandfather of seven.

For while I have the miles on the clock, I don’t feel like the old codger I always thought I would do when I got to this great age.

I have more aches and pains than I would like, and cannot rise from a crouch or even get out of a chair without groaning like a falling tree, but I have somehow retained most of my faculties, albeit with multiple artificial aids, and still undertake fairly strenuous labour 13 days out of 14.

It is hard to imagine any of my grandparents racing their eight-year-old granddaughter round the block on a pushbike, bumping over kerbs, weaving round parked cars and doing broadside skids, or wave-jumping in the Atlantic.

Or being bowled up the beach like a fat little piece of driftwood by some vicious breaker which started life somewhat close to the Azores.

I spend much of the summer in shorts and sandals, always the preserve of Scoutmasters when I was a lad, and play rock and roll music in the car at indecently loud volume at every opportunity. I boogie with the family babies, and play Angel of the North with two eight year olds, which involves them standing on my knees with arms outstretched, while I wobble by legs and try to throw them off.

It is hard to remember either of my grandfathers doing very much.

One died when I was just four, still in his early 50s, but worn out by service in the mud and mayhem of the First World War trenches.

I have vague memories of an ancient in a tightly buttoned waistcoat with watch chain, whose only exercise was hawking and spitting into the fire from the depths of his armchair.

At one time, he had been a dashing hussar, footballer and boxer with a twinkle in his eye and a fondness for the horses, but he was a shadow of his former self in later life.

He and my Nana spent their entire married lives in a tiny house, without electricity or hot water. The house had a shared toilet at the bottom of the yard.

They were not concerned about who was doing what to whom in Coronation Street or Emmerdale, as they had no television.

All that mattered to them was whether they had a spare mantle for the gas lights,.

My Nana was one of those typically no-nonsense Northern women born in Victorian times who lived her entire life in a crossover pinny with thick woollen skirt and lisle stockings.

As it happened, she would no more have worn trousers than my grandad would have worn a frock.

I never really knew my other grandfather, who ran away to Ireland to escape his domineering wife while my father was still an embryo.

I did get to meet him though, when, out of the blue, my father asked me if I would care to accompany him to Cambridge to meet my grandfather for the first time, which came as a bolt from the blue.

I was 14 at the time, off school as a result of a cycling mishap, and was intrigued as to how we would get to such a mystical destination as we had no car and not a lot in the way of money.

The answer came in the form of a 20-ton lorry, which took us part of the way, and we hitch-hiked the rest in a variety of vehicles, for those were the days when hitch-hikers thronged every main road, and were not seen as deranged serial killers and perverts.

We eventually turned up outside a set of factory gates in Cambridge, and soon a man came out who was the spitting image of my dad.

He came across to us and said: “Hello Fred. What are you doing here?” as though he had only seen him a couple of days before, rather than several decades ago.

He took us back to his house to meet his new wife and family and after an excruciatingly tortured meal invited us to stay the night, to the anguished alarm of my step-grandmother.

There were a number of hissed and heated conversations between our hosts, but stay the night we did, before beating a hasty retreat after breakfast.

I never saw my grandfather again, as he died a few short months after our brief acquaintance.