Didsburydad's Blog

From the not so mean streets of M20, blog about being a dad, Didsbury and dealing with parental confusion

Archive for the month “January, 2011”

CHRISTMAS DAY – WAS IT REALLY ONLY A MONTH AGO?

There are easter eggs in Tesco and I am already struggling for a Valentine’s Day poem. THe FA Cup 4th Round is on Saturday and that is what I love about this blog, it keeps me current.

Christmas Day:
6.30am and Didsbury Son is bright and excited; gorgeous and gabbling. Didsbury wife tries to be earth motherly and friendly and her gargantuan effort spurs me into adulthood. I slip downstairs with Didsbury Son avoiding the room where Santa visits to make tea and check the turkey has slept well. I usually become emotionally attached to the turkey by Christmas morning. I see the prepping and bating as more Viking funeral pageant than cooking.

This is what I have learned about Christmas. All dads, Didsbury or otherwise take note:

1. Do as you are told
2. Do not answer back
3. Be patient
4. After the Age of 21 sprouts are only good in single figures
5. Keep making cups of tea until instructed otherwise.
6. You can never go wrong with The White Company- maybe I should work there instead of John Lewis

I did very well this year. My prizes beyond some fantastic grown up gifts are a football shirt in a size that fits. A new team-shirt always brings a tear to my sad rheumy eyes. As I squeeze it on and feel momentarily elated, I am once again living the dream. My other star gift is a football trivia book so banal and niche that they may as well have called it “For Didsbury Dad only”.

We now have four days in a cottage in the snow. The thought of lying on a couch with an air of sprouts hanging over me reading a “Where are they now” book of failed 70s reserve players who have probably forgotten themselves that they ever played once in 1978 fills me with the unfettered joy of a 9 year old opening the i-Pap he had written to Lapland to secure.

My gifts went down so well that only one is going back for a refit. Didsbury dad, wife and Didsbury son share a couch, a joy and have presents of interest only to themselves. The perfect Christmas.

Christmas Eve Part 2

Christmas Eve –
From 4pm the streets are lined with parents holding children, cards and Christingle oranges.
From 5pm the last of the male shoppers troop beaten out of the off-licence or clutch their soon to be ignored last minute gifts.
At 6pm it is quiet, but
By 7pm the younger teenagers in short sleeves and bravado are tripping from mates’ houses to unsuccessful attempts at getting served. This sharpens the barstaff for the influx of the lads and the laydeez from 8pm onwards.
9pm and the chains by the clocktower are full of testosterone, Top Man and Gio Goi. There is flirting and smoking going on in equal measure outside each one. The smaller pubs are full of the drinkers, divorcees, the unenthusiastic and those resolving to blank out whatever the true meaning is to them.
11pm Midnight Mass at St. James’ and hope is resurrected to a motley crew of the faithful, the once a year and the searching…
I am at hope frantically trying to tidy the house and slip gifts over which I have agonised under a tipsy and tiny tree that has failed to meet any expectations.

Like all good Didsbury Dads I have several concerns. Is medium the new 12? Is a 10 going to be perceived as inviting or inhibiting? Why doesn’t John Lewis sell Jo Malone? If I got a job at John Lewis next year then the money I save on staff discount throughout the year would be better than wages. When will John Lewis take over the Pizza Hut vacated space in the village to stop that terminal trip up the A34 that always means you miss the 4pm Sunday kick off?

Didsbury son is easy. If it has a half eaten fruit on the side, is a DVD or something to cuddle it wins.

The cats eye me suspiciously as I bite through two carrots, the mince pie and shlurp the milk they had planned for the second I left the room. Didsbury fatcat brings in one last baby rat dislodged from the Metro building work as an offering (or a swap for the turkey I danced around the room with earlier). Skinny cat eyes me warily and gets back to her 18 hours a day winter sleeping regime. When FC and Rudolf come down they may be disappointed that the food has gone and the cats aren’t really bothered.

Christmas Eve 2010: Part 1

Didsbury at Christmas time is a magical place. We are an area of three parts – East, West and Village. There are lovely Victorian mansions, 30s solid estates and some new builds that look like prisons or seafront buildings. Didsbury has several great parks, a river running through it, main roads and its own motorway junction. Depending on your take it is aspirational, bohemian, classless, posh or desirable. It is still a media enclave, still has an air of independence, but knows the value of a decent chain store.
From the delis, estate agents and primarily chain pubs in the Village Centre to the delis, estate agents and smaller chain pubs in West Didsbury. It encompasses the ugly practicality of Star City where the Christmas lights are on all year to the deli and estate agent free Fletcher Moss where the river is beautiful, the countryside breathtaking and a glass of wine in any of the three bars there costs the same as a decent bottle in the village.
Marks & Spencer, The Cheese Hamlet and Evans Fishmongers on Christmas Eve morning are fantastic microcosmos of our society. People travel from surrounding areas – men folk who think Spar is a hypermarket queuing quietly at 7am on Christmas Eve. Twice written underlined lists from harassed spouses in their hands knowing that an unbronzed turkey, a poor quality Stilton or the wrong organic sprouts could mean a shunned and apologetic Christmas. There is a palpable air of fear in the air, not covered by false bonhomie.
If we ever get invaded these are the scenes I expect as rows of middle management people carriers and improbable 4x4s line Wilmslow Road. Queues, initially friendly become less so as Extra Virgin gives way to merely Olive Oil before the dreaded “produce of more than one country” label threatens the residents.
Didsbury has been evacuated and the queues for supplies formed early as Marks had a £10 meal deal advertised in the window and the chickens on offer are all Oakham. One day I will go to Oakham.

AN AUTUMN GONE TOO QUICKLY AND ALREADY NEW YEAR

When I started this blog in September I made the resolution that it would be weekly, possibly fortnightly and at most monthly. I would share the joy of being Didsbury dad, a man able to differentiate a real bagel from those cinnamon doughnut type things you buy in supermarkets, whilst being politically sound, ethically aware, a good father and watching more football.
So three months on from summer musings and some of things I have learned are…
1. Do not make resolutions about the autumn whilst the tan of the Mediterranean is still colouring your thoughts as well as your outward appearance.

2. The period between September 1st and half-term primarily consists of letters home about bugs “going around the school” which only I have caught. (I became class rep for Didsbury son after some romantic notions about being proactive about education on a weekend without the hassle of being a governor).

3. The step up in any school year induces the kind of lame platitudes you hated hearing a child and you now pass on.
Me: (pants on head, trousers half down, gooning around the kitchen saying “It’s a great day for a spelling test”.
Didsbury Son booking counselling session for 21st Birthday, “It’s my dad – he thought he was the warm-up act for breakfast. At age 5 it was funny, by Year 5 it made me nervous.”

4. One of the benefits of being a year 5 parent is watching the other parents who have constantly told you that private education is apartheid and generally a bad bad thing now surreptitiously stalking potential tutors, past papers and tips about “The High School” and “the Grammar School” from a never before so popular Didsbury Wife who teaches.

5. From Half-term onwards it is a question of minor fleecings building to a crescendo in a Christmas so wrought with guilt and expectation I’m only glad my non-Christian upbringing made me a late developer.

At Harvest Festival my son’s book bag bulged with feed the poor letters nestling next to exorbitant charges for out of frame school pictures and a school trip that could pay for a sedan chair for each child. The removing of the disposable income built carefully through Halloween (costume and sweets), Bonfire Night (when did a small box go up to £25), Eid, Chanucah, Book Week (trying to sell him illustrated books at £11.99 each), Solstice, Panto Trips etc. Ad nauseum. Didsbury wife and I glare covetously at each other’s wallets with a “your turn” unspoken across the Special K.

6. I really dislike Halloween. Firstly, it is American and not ours. I fear being dragged kicking into Thanksgiving that would mean 2 months of enormous turkeys beckoning me night after night. I have invented a meal between breakfast and elevenses – turkey treats for me and the cats. Secondly, it’s crap.
British trick or treating consists of two possibilities round our way – either little Freyas or Archies in Tesco costumes with doting parents standing behind them taking pictures mercilessly as you strain knee and attention span to feign interest and give those M&S sweets with fair-trade sugar. This is like some bizarre “mini-pops” with paparazzi as small children slightly scared of their own costumes are cheered on to talk to strangers by sugar-coated parents. The flip side is surly teenagers who realise it’s a middle-class area and look slightly threatening as they scoop the remnants to scoff noisily or give out as Christmas presents.
The main reason I hate Halloween is that it is killing Bonfire Night. Not dissimilar to the way the Premier League is killing the FA Cup. November 5th and the 1st Saturday of the year are sacrosanct. One is toffee, Heinz Tomato Soup, scared pets and fireworks. The other is the best Match of the Day of the year, features a postman and a student playing an international and has the chance of embarrassment. Both are fantastic. Halloween comes over here giving chewing gum, tights and chocolates to the kids and lures them away with flashy costumes and the ability to jitterbug.
Like aluminium, ass, jello and a bag of chips when they mean crisps it is great for America but does not suit the British. If you love ghost and goblins go to Alderley Edge, on bonfire night.

A month full of promise

In an auction for a school I have won 3 fitness coaching sessions with a professional instructor AND a Management  training day (apparently worth 3K – so my first decision to bid low was a good one). Unfortunately I was outbid on a session with a psychiatrist assessing mental health, which was the one I was really after.

I can’t resist seeing into other people’s worlds  but I may be about to find out a harsh lesson. The fitness training is with a professional rugby union coach.

Now I dipped out of rugby at the age of 11 when  my build condemned me to being a tighthead prop. This induced both claustrophobia and a fear of people crouching down biting, squeezing and punching me for no discernible reason. In my view Rugby Union was fat boys playing catch (line stolen from Bradley Walsh) so this could be a meeting of minds in no sense of the phrase.

I have promised Didsbury Wife I will return with pecs like Jason Bourne and neck like a bridge support, face like Iggle Piggle and knees that will be creaking like rusty doors but can take a pounding from a hooker (so to speak). Maybe I should do the management coaching first to learn how to deal with the situation.

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