Who's The Daddy?: An empty nest leaves us with a lot of space in the calendar

Here’s something they don’t tell you when you bring your little bundle of joy home from the hospital for the first time – 20 years later, when you want to meet up, they’re busy so you have to make an appointment to see them.

At the start of last month, when we tried to arrange a day to visit daughter No.1 in her new life lawyerin’ in Manchester, the best she could do was mid-October.

Honestly, it was like a pair of yuppies comparing Filofaxes in the 1980s. Can’t do that weekend I’ve got a music festival/camping trip/gig/works do in town… the list goes on.

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Daughter No.2 is just the same in her second year at LIPA in Liverpool. Most Sundays are spent running a drama workshop in the city, leaving me and you and a dog named Boo kicking our heels of a weekend.

It’s not that they don’t keep in touch. They’re regular FaceTimers and daughter No.1 in particular likes to send us pictures of what she’s made for dinner, but like the poem says, they looked over the edge, we pushed them, and they flew.

Having no kids at home does take some getting used to. For starters, evenings and weekends are your own again for the first time since the 1990s, which feels like last week but is, in fact, 23 years ago.

We go to the cinema any time we like to see films we aren’t that bothered about seeing – It Snows In Benidorm, odd – and eat dinner in pubs when we’re feeling flush around payday and can’t be bothered cooking.

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Even the pets are pining for them. Well, one is, the other two are ambivalent at best. Six Dinner Sid, one of our tom cats who wandered into a house five doors down earlier this year and was spotted leaving his third a fortnight ago, cares about filling his huge, pendulous gut and very little else.

But his brother Mr Robbie marches around the house screaming his head off looking for daughter No.2 because he’s grown accustomed to her all-day cuddles on her days off. Honestly, if her lease permitted pets he’d be living in her student house in Liverpool now and keeping the nearby Anglican Cathedral mouse free.

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Whereas it has just about registered with our sighthound Walter that there are two fewer spare humans in his palace and there’s more room on his sofa of an evening.