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.