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 “September, 2011”

Festival Fever Favours sunkissed Didsbury

It’s Didsbury Arts Festival (DAF) this week. This is a great and evolving event and the organisers do a brilliant job. But there is a schism in Didsbury and festival fever is afoot.

In a Grand Designesque gesture the TSB/Oddbins has re- emerged as Caffe Nero at The Manor Park end of the village. A blue chain to offset the deep red Costa at the railway end. Will the mums of Broad Oak and Didsbury C of E Nero, whilst Beaver Road and St Catherine’s Costa? Is this attack of The Clones (courtesy @wordsandpics) going to see off the Art of Tea, that link to Boho West Didsbury and their obtuse named indies? Time will tell and caffeine will spill in the fight to host the cognoscenti …

Anyway back to the festival. Following The Didsbury Festival, Cav. Fest and West Fest (see the pattern?), DAF and the French Beer Festival are the official end of summer and the M20 festive season. With many in our media friendly village heading to Edinburgh at some point in August we now redress the balance.

The Cheese Hamlet has added 10p to the price of Longley Farm Virtually Fat Free Cottage Cheese in line with the festival savvy West Didsbury Delis. Big Issue sellers are combining origami with flyering; the cider possee outside the co-op have added mime to their routine and the bench outside the library has been renamed Arthur’s Seat.

My only disappointment is that Evans Fishmongers has no recreation of The Little Mermaid in festival themed Bream displays, The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon has no DAF-themed cupcake and The Metropolitan is not hosting Late n Live.

That’s why I love Didsbury. Tonight I have the choice of the Poet Laureate at Church or The Champions League at home and Didsbury Son is out playing tig amidst the Boden, Havaianas and Sea Salt of Cornwall.

Time for a festival drink on the doorstep

A picture of my installation suggestion: seabirds and house brick near Aldi


Things I have learned sailing past 36

I love watching the immediacy of Didsbury Son’s life. Every new conversation is a best friend, each new pointless American cartoon is a journey of discovery whose ending he has not yet worked out in advance and each moment has a sense of urgency that comes with having the gift of being in the present. There is no cynicism, no sighing (except at comprehensions); surprises and treats of any kind come as surprising treats.

Doing some 40-something dull-to-the-bone reminiscing has proved to be something of a liberation. Whilst all that caring and intensity is exciting it can also be draining and tiring as time goes by. Social Media must make the paranoia of being ” in” even worse than in the 80s and 90s. It’s not sick, not bum. Last week in Tesco two wanna be gangsta teenagers were waxing about the Hoisin Duck Wrap being “bum”.  I thought the rump steak was bum but that is just facetious and I am glad that the major M20 turf wars surround lawns.

So here is my non exhaustive guide to the liberation of being past 36 and having the pleasure of caring deeply, but not about very much.

1. A defeat for my team at the weekend no longer clouds it. I have heard all the gags, insults, 1-4-all and all 4-1 chimes and although I take pleasure in victory, defeat is tempered by having seen it before.

2. Cool underwear. Marks and Spencers’ pants are really  comfy and built with practicality in mind

3. I may fleetingly be lured by the advert for the latest blockbuster but by the time I have taken Didsbury Son to see the latest dancing lion or improbable robot and sat through SJP or Jennifer Aniston’s latest romcom with Didsbury Wife it will be gone and I can enjoy it on my own at home with the cats on FlmFlex.

4. I like cars, have no idea how an engine works and don’t care about torque. Is it cheap to insure and run and childproof?

5. Birthdays – they are lovely but if members of my close family forget a card I reckon it has saved me £2 when it’s their turn.

6. Burning people off at the lights, bad for fuel consumption.

7. Converse trainers- too low on the heel, bad for the arch.

8. Fancy restaurants – overpriced, under portioned and lacking the challenge of all you can eat.

9. School playground etiquette – understanding this is similar to knowing a Masons handshake for the uninitiated.

10. The Weekend. Between taxi duties and domestic ones, Monday night is a relief.

However, what I have learned is that if you pick the right ones, the pleasure and pride you get is increased. So little victories for Didsbury Son at school and play mean more than a good away win, anniversaries of firsts and occasions resonate more loudly and remembering your real friends and family becomes more of a pleasure. So if I can get Didsbury Son to score the winning goal in a cup final on the anniversary of my first date with Didsbury Wife I am sorted.

Top one.


The week that I have counted down to  has finally come around.  Didsbury Son has donned his black shoes and grey trousers after what seems like 6 months in pyjamas and joggers watching Deadly 60 and gone back to school. Hello peace after 8.30 (am and pm), numbing 5 day a week routine and breakfast without chocolate.  I’m starting to sound all grumpy old man  here and ungrateful for my gifts but, it’s not that at all. Much as I love the bones off him and the sound of his voice still lights a bulb deep inside me, he is now at the age where he is an expert on everything (in a Roger Irrelevant kind of way) and willing to fight the most tenuous of corners (my fault). This, combined with an approach to personal space based on limpet can leave me craving a bout of indifference. Last week he also professed himself ready to go back, which set off  in me the kind of overwhelming middle-class bad dad guilt and inadequacy for which sweets and films were the only pacifier. Didsbury Son likes his school and has every right to, they seem nice people but I started school in the 70s so this notion still slightly shocks me. One of our final summer adventures was a distant friend’s wedding. I thought that the day would be good for his social skills and I could ask him to drive if I found a free bar. Didsbury Wife dressed him impeccably and all I had to do is pick a buttonhole. The Gerbra was a poor choice and blocked most of his shirt but I got away with it. Being my Didsbury Son he is the only one walking into church asking loudly whether to shout Mazeltov or Lchaim when they smash the glass. I qvell with pride, schlepp nacchus and get all my stereotypes out of the way before instictively checking for a skullcap as I go into the church. Now. As go-getting freelance I can finally return to the creative schedule and change the free world; Just time for breakfast, SkySports News and Funny or Die before heaving the iPad to Costa to look important.The house suddenly seems to be a bit too quiet and I may have to coax one of the cats to my study. Should not be too hard, if Didsbury Fatcat gets any greedier he will need his own set of keys to get through the door.

The Costa Identity / Supremacy / and the other one

It’s 3pm and I am in Costa Coffee on Wilmlsow Road in Didsbury, ostensibly to work on my laptop. Thinking it may be a creatively difficult afternoon I have a cup of coffee that is so American Fat it has 2 handles and I am slightly ashamed by its obvious greed.

I love it in here. Costa’s clientage always give inspiration. (Although as a liberal media Didsbury Dad I obviously support the independents and am an Art of Tea regular.) The staff here are corporate friendly and professional. The camp over decorated indifferent moaners so beloved of small coffee houses don’t last long.

The Costa day pulls in the village, strata by strata. In term-time harassed dads delight kids with overpriced smoothies and cakes to tempt them to school. Then at 9am come the mums, mums to be and pre-college kids swamping the occasional early business meeting. It is loud, competitive and marks out the territory of the surrounding playgrounds.

A long shot of Didsbury Son that will be relevant to the next blog, not this one

I am usually here about 10. It’s Freelance central. Strong coffees and laptops push the ambient temperature up as individual men grunt cautiously from behind screens that hold draft versions of scripts. Potentially impressive phonecalls are handled loudly. We all leave for a meeting, nodding supportively about the failure of commissioners/producers/editors/audiences etc.

By late morning it is the retired and comfortable (they also take the lunch/post lunch period) who remember Blaggs, the old Boots, Percevals and Tesco in the village.

They give way to excitable schoolies and students who share exorbitant drinks and talk whilst texting and tweeting with a speed and code that impresses and depresses simultaneously.

And then… At 6, the early evening brings first dates and Internet-arranged blind dates.  I have been lucky enough to be “working” next to three of these excruciating occasions which made me thankful for Didsbury Wife and Son and for the self-delusion of those in here.

Time for a refill. What is the point of a frapuccino in England? Is it meant to be ironic?

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