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 “August, 2011”

Great but no Suntan or mosquito bites

We drive back from Scotland feeling smug that we did not go south to Devon where there were floods. I glance down whilst driving to see that my legs are paler than when I left home and I can no way pretend that my stubble has blonde flecks from the sun. The car is packed and the taste of haggis and vast landscapes are my abiding memories of Scotland.

It has been fun and provided us with new experiences that made me realise that I am still not very good at being a grown up dad talking to other grown up dads about life and work. I am just not programmed for a conversation revolving around companies, pensions, other people’s education dilemmas or the cars they drive.

But – when you can’t sunbathe you can quiz. We are victorious in the family quiz. An encyclopedic knowledge of The Simpsons and football trivia wins us the “Champagne” and dark threatening looks from the family at the next table (Southerners) who had expected a victory (5 kids, one must know something). My pleasure for the next two days is reacting nonchalantly to their insinuations of foul play and irritation at losing to Northerners.

You can fix the raffle but you cannot halt progress

Four days later we are at an SNP Fundraising quiz. This is a new one for me. Now I can now feel like not only Larry David in a room full of strangers, but also a representative of the old empire. There are plenty of questions about William Wallace and Mary but not enough anti-English rhetoric to keep me entertained. I speak to Didsbury Wife and we admit to feeling slightly disloyal to Wales; not sure why. We do not win the quiz. In fact we are the only group not to win a raffle prize and suddenly I am the southerner thinking of dark deeds.

As we cross the border into Cumbria and Haggis gives way to Black Pudding as the primary offal provider for the nation I find myself pining for the overpriced coffee, nation of charity shops and messy diversity that is Didsbury, Wilmslow Road here I come.

I’ll Take the Cliché and you take the platitude and I’ll be in Scotland etc.


The clouds are so low and thick I imagine myself in one of those films where Morgan Freeman is God to Steve Carrell or Jim Carrey.

Location shot for Deliverance 2

 

It’s beautiful, but my view is that a decent summer holiday should be somewhere that is barren and bleached by the sun, not green and lush and therefore wet and overcast for much of the time.

I digress. It takes 3 hours driving through sheeting rain between huge lorries to get us from the Borders to the middle of nowhere. Didsbury wife knits happily, looks serene and occasionally pats me in a ” just keep driving, no more coffee breaks” kind of way when we pass the many Costa fleecing points. Didsbury son is chirpily tired from swimming and moves seamlessly between cross-stitch and 3DS. Trying to shut out the sound of Fearne Cotton and Radio 1 in general I realise I have spent hours chewing several conundrums in this week of English looting and soul searching…Ooh, a fir tree.

1. Black Pudding supper, White pudding supper or Haggis Supper? When will the English catch on to what we really want – offal, barley and all in batter.

Tree.

2. Scotland is foreign, I spent Sunday afternoon in a decent sized town searching pubs like some go getting Greyfriars Bobby trying to find The Premier League on SkySports and what did I find? Kilmarnock v Hibs and fat boys playing catch in a warm up for the soon to bore world cup of fat boys playing catch. It’s an outrage.

More trees.

3. My abiding visual of the week of riots, looting and political knee jerking comes from photoshoplooter of hoodies braking into No. 10, genius.

Look, a tree.

4. Didsbury son played and slaughtered me at Super Mario, laughing quite rightly at my dimwitted ineptitude. Not only am I a Didsbury Dad. I am my becoming my own Didsbury Dad. I look at Didsbury Son, in 35 years it will happen to him too.

Tree again.

5. Driving across the magnificent Forth Road Bridge and taking in the splendour of nature that surrounds it all I could think was East Fife 4 Forfar 5.

Trees.

I may settle for haggis flavoured crisps and a nip of something patronising.

Finally August 2011; my inner snob and offal galore

Holiday Part 1

August 2011 Scotland. High summer in the Highlands. Last summer’s jaunt to France and Spain by car and Eurocamp was a sun kissed road trip. This year’s is shorter in time and distance and we have a series of nice hotels with swimming pools.  I am the only person in Scotland not at the Fringe, in T-shirt and shorts (It is summer, I am on holiday and it is my right.).

Didsbury Wife has booked this trip carefully. I need a gym to offset the promise of a daily cooked breakfast and Didsbury Son needs a pool. If there is one thing we love it’s a swimming pool with Jacuzzi, sauna and steamroom. We are in luck

We hit the pool within 10 minutes of arriving. I goon about, acting as a hairy inflatable for Didsbury Son and his acrobatics act as a magnet for the other kids in the pool who view me as a moving oversized Fisher Priced toy. We run through our repertoire of somersaults and shark attacks and he has quickly pulled with the local 6-12 year olds and I can slope off to read the paper in the sauna.

By Kids’ teatime on the first day he has a DS buddy, a coterie of hangers-on and emails of people whose names he will forget by Day 2. Having been a good dad and avoided having to speak to any other parents I treat myself to a cocktail whilst Didsbury Wife gets ready to remind me why I made the effort to shave and forego the Old Spice for something more 2011.

Through several days of swimming pools I work out every day and Didsbury Son knows to get an extra sausage on his plate for Dad Tax following my triumphant power walk into the breakfast room. We fish for salmon, but nether red nor pink bite. I watch him play badminton against cocky teenagers with aplomb and hang out with excited 6 year olds for the cartoons. His equilibrium and happiness in this range of company puts me to shame. I flick a silent V at the other dads who talk to me.

Backless Gowns and Barbiturates

June 1st: I am in hospital. Drugs, backless gowns, attention, no phone calls about work, lovely nurses and room service, I finally see the attraction. I am in for the noblest operation a man of my experience can have. It’s called the triple F solution, forty, fat and football fan – an arthroscopy.

I sit in my gown, feet on bed trying to think up a bold and dangerous sounding reason for being here to tell the nurses. My pre-med addled brain thinks that these 20 something nurses see before them a distinguished yet strong, nurturing and irresistible man of experience. I realise it is a combination of the medication, the surroundings and the slight dread of being knocked out and my secrets laid bare.

The morphine kicks in

It’s a doddle. If Arthroscopies had a fan page on Facebook I would Like it and invite friends. I am like a grandfather looking at an iPhone for the 1st time. 3pm Op. 5pm Morphine. 9pm Home. This is better than an iPhone, better than ESPN Goals being free to download and better than last week’s pain.

I make all sorts of bargains before I go to sleep. I will do my exercises religiously (more spiritual than religious), I will be climbing mountains with Didsbury son and the cubs by September (well, does driving count), I will save the sample of the knees creaking to remind me each time I fancy a trip in a lift and a Snickers. I will campaign for better knee health for all. I am gone, in a haze of morphine and relief.

God, Toggles and Chocolate

Our house reads from differing sides of the Old Testament. My Passover is Didsbury Wife’s Last Supper – same God, different caterers. Her Easter Egg trumps my Matzo but the Charoset (pronounced by continuously clearing ones throat whilst shouting et) is gaining favour. Then comes the dilemma. Didsbury Son is an easy-going and friendly only-child; so he receives an Augustus Gloop of chocolate eggs and has no sibling rivals to steal them; just me after he is asleep and I am pretending that chocolate stimulates the creative juices, not the salivary glands. The mixing of religions can be invigorating and waist expanding and not mind if you are not careful. I am many things, but not that careful.

Cub Camp Catering Tent

May 15th is a bittersweet day. Pride at Didsbury son winning The Pip Hartley challenge on a cubs weekend, tinged with sadness at missing the last day of the football season and my lot ending on a slump that had begun pre-Christmas. As proud parents we travel out of Didsbury and even Greater Manchester. It could be Derbyshire, Lancashire or North Wales, it is all interchangeable to me. Narrow roads, grey buildings and no Flat Whites. 5Live fades too quickly and my 3G goes as we enter the gulag they stayed at with only 10 minutes gone in a pointless match to all but… dads in their early 40s with a fear of being asked to go camping.

Cub camp resembles some 70s TV imagining of post apocalyptic Britain; with toggles and orange headbands. To Didsbury Son it is a land of adventure and glory with friends, campfires and late night songs and stories. To Didsbury Wife it has Didsbury Son and is therefore the best place on earth.  We coo diligently about his team’s great navigation; breathe through our mouths to avoid the overwhelming smell of damp people sharing a small space but our pride is mixed with dread. I realise that it is muddy fields with toggles rather than football grounds and balls that I will probably be traipsing around for the next few years and the thought of a wet night in a tent is making my knees creak in fear.

There must be a football ground near here

Playing Blog Catch-Up

This blogging keeps you current. Happy New Year everyone. 2011 already. I have a sneaky feeling that News International will be exposed and The News of the World is going to close, but it’s just a hunch.

Pets or soup? Didsbury Dad and son disagree

So it was Christmas 2010 and it didn’t go to plan, I blame the coalition. There was a discrepancy between depth perception and a television. Consequently Didsbury Family spent Boxing Day morning in a slightly sweaty shopping centre, suffering a combination of embarrassment, claustrophobia, snobbery and mortification as we searched for a just discontinued line.

That and a Christmas holiday spent trying to please other people and satisfying no one led to me some less than groundbreaking conclusions.

1. Trying to kill several birds with one stone ends with broken items and can lead to the light shakes at Meadowhall surrounded by chirpy and determined South Yorkshireans.

2. When you are entertaining your 9 year old by simply speaking and swaying, it is time for bed.

3. The Cheese Hamlet is probably more economically viable that the USA

4. Other people’s problems, whilst excruciating, can make you feel better about your own social inadequacies.

5. Hindsight is the best predictor.

That’s the end of the philosophy, on to 2011.

2011. It’s been quick, sometimes brutal, never dull and occasionally life enhancing in shouting from the sidelines dad kind of way. Highlights so far include Didsbury Wife’s birthday party at a Tapas Bar in Boho West Didsbury in February. You know it’s going well when mid conversation with the barman about the joys of Morcilla over Bury Black Pudding you decide he is the best friend you never had and want to kiss everyone.

a stunning lack of imagination went into buying this football cake

Didsbury Wife is precise. Things are either right or wrong and getting it right can be grueling so happiness, mixed with Rioja and relief are powerful stimulants and we celebrated true Didsbury style. Families, fancy food, Philosophy and gatecrashers we had never met who went home friends.

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