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 “December, 2011”

2011. Things I have learned whilst sailing past 39

Things I have learned in 2011, sailing past 39.

1. The more you try to please people the less impact it has. You should only try to please one person at a time and in my world that is Didsbury Wife.

2. The craze of Pokemon will pass. One day you will no longer have to feign Interest in Pikachu and his cohort. (This also applies to those suffering Glee, High School Musical and Transformers).

Didsbury Ultra

3. It has an immediate, more expensive, more consuming replacement. Ours is Star Wars with an accompaniment of eye-watering Lego, books, boxsets and bollxxxx

4. Recession shmession. Double Dip Shmouble Shmip. Riot Shmiot. The teenage fear of 1981, the shredding of live entertainment in 1991. The pre-Commonwealth bonanza of 2001. They make 2011’s financial fiascos a year to chew slowly and not panic. (I also learned that there is no predicitive text replacement for shmiot.)

The laughable coalition just gives you twice the number of Hogwarts Alumni to despise.

5. The 11 plus may have gone but its replacements and the competitive parenting, tutoring, sneaking and angling that goes with it have a Roman Empire scheming feel to them.

6. I like a good blog, tweet, google, stumble and tumble but none of them match a handwritten love note.

7. Having a choice of independent delis and corporate coffee caterers on  your doorstep can be expensive, enlivening and expanding.

Why have a teaspoon at home when you can pay £3 around the corner

8. The constant stream of minor bogus celebrations that school and Hallmark inflict on us throughout the academic year diminish the celebrations you love, as children are constantly over-stimulated.

9. He may think he is “sick” and all grown up, but when Didsbury Son grabs my hand tight as we mooch around, it is still the best feeling around.

10. If I hang around the remnants of the turkey for much longer I will get separation anxiety when I leave the kitchen.

11. New Years’ Eve is a great night to work and a microcosm of the – men love women, women love children, children love animals scenario.
So my idea of the perfect New Years’ Eve will be on hold until at least after the Olympics; but I will be kissing goodbye 2011 and beckoning 2012 in touching distance of Didsbury Wife and Son and definitely in Didsbury.

Happy New Year, more rambling next week for 2012.

The Flashing Blade and Olive Shapley

Didsbury is lively at the moment. Across East and West – from School Lane to Burton Road; Parrswood, Wilmslow and Barlow Moor Roads to Lapwing and Fog Lanes there seems to be an independent spirit rising.

It could be the Metro, MediaCityUK or the double dip recession but there is somewhere interesting to look at and something new to try on and taste each week.

The banks and Estate Agents are retreating as their markets shrink. We have so many charities represented in the village that it resembles the London Marathon at times and Didsbury is now regenerating again; it’s Tardis holding treats for every taste.

I am old skool and love the river and Fletcher Moss. We now have Dimitri’s on hand and The OldCock is back from its fishy failure.

But the less showy roads are making a big leap for attention and the Metro does seem to be at its heart. The building work has done more than take away the best mooching route in South Manchester and dislodge some rats’ nests.

School Lane is now a cultural delight. The superb Blade at the Kingsway end deals out sublime and polite £6 wet shaves and haircuts to a backdrop of genuine Didsbury Diversity. It is a haven.

At the village end the old Reporter offices are now a swanky cake shop opposite a private gym and proper chippy. To get between them there is a musical, fancy dress and boutique heaven journey taking in Peking House’s best Hot and Sour Soup in Manchester (their number is on speed dial).

Old faithful the scout hut hosts generations of confused Beavers, eager Cubs and spotty scouts and Olive Shapley Court; soon to have a ticket office in it’s lobby.

This leads us past the Milton, Milson, Millets – the Wetherspoons to Jem & I – never understood the name and the optician that used to be Namaste Village, which backs on to the Warburton Street Notting Hillesque gateway to the village.

As Didsbury Son and I pound these not mean streets we notice a little West Didsbury bohemia creeping thankfully Eastwards to mingle with our corporate Nero,Costa and M&S consistency.

Oh and The Peking House is 445 01…

Mannequin Skywalker and Princess Layla v Didsbury Dad

Didsbury Son is having a love-in with all things Star Wars and is bringing me along for every elaborate twist, betrayal, and plot device.

I have been castigated for asking whether Garth Maul was the goat with the floppy ears and tutted at like the class dunce for musing on Jabba The Hut’s unresolved issues.

The first one is the 4th. When they did strike down Mikel John Obi it didn’t make him more powerful, it unleashed Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor and The Clone Wars makes The Banana Splits seen like a linear narrative.

On the upside, Didsbury Son spent 5 silent hours on Christmas Day making something so complicated out of Lego Star Wars it had its own licence plate. This, with Didsbury Wife playing with Darcy Bussell meant I could slope off to eat turkey, read trivia and lie somewhere quiet navel gazing and shallow breathing from over-indulgence.

I know I have to engage and learn about the world of Star Wars. I sidestepped Harry Potter and his cronies finding it all a bit Alderly Edge. I have managed to keep us busy when Dr Who was onscreen and X Factor has not really caught on in our house. But. This seems like the real thing for Didsbury Son and it is my duty as a 21st Century dad to actively enrol in his new love. To embrace its passion until its inevitable demise sometime in the spring.

The shame being that I had only just worked out the difference between a grass and a water Pokemon. I am so last year.

Don’t Drink and Drive a Sleigh

I refer to last year’s Christmas Eve for a comment on Didsbury.

Anyway. I think Didsbury Wife and I may have blown Santa’s cover in a drink related incident that proves to me that a big tummy and a red coat do not a Santa make and… Don’t Drive a Sleigh and drink.

Our living room has two stunned cats, shards of crockery and will require another, yet another trip to John Lewis to replace the broken pieces of what once held homemade mince pies, organic Didsbury Village Farm Shop Carrots and some lovely Tesco Napoleon Brandy.

Tesco Nepoleon Brandy, on a par with Aldi’s Norpak Butter and about as close to Napoleon as Elba is to Paris.

I digress. It’s the Mince Pies’ fault. Didsbury Son and I started the afternoon happily making them before Christingle and I decided to spice up the mincemeat with various fruits and Brandy, which needed sampling. This led to Vodka and Didsbury Son enjoying gags a father shouldn’t tell a 10 year old .

The neighbours came round. Then we went around the neighbours. There was Cava, mini Kievs, Prosecco and then the Santa incident.

Once I had stopped laughing as we moved through the house with the stealth of Laurel & Hardy moving a piano; I thought that I can’t wait for Didsbury Son to be old enough to tell him about this – it’s a dad thing.

Christmas Preparations 1: Keeping the faith

A picture of restaurant fish and chips with no bearing on the content of the blog

Watching Didsbury Son grow up makes Christmas different every year. His sudden sense of self and what is cool, a.k.a “sick”, a.k.a. “bum”, a.k.a. “top” (c.1985) means we are on the cusp of a change.

The major part of him wants to indulge the love of reindeer, snow, endless sugar and plastic toys.  This general month-long spoiling is the  magic of Christmas. Being little at this time of year is a great gig, who wouldn’t want to keep it going for as long as is possible?

But a growing part of him wants to be adult, to be surrounded by screens, hang his jeans below his waist and to begin the process of disbelief.

We have been here before. In 2009 Didsbury Son announced that he knew the Tooth Fairy did not exist and it was me (usually a day late and scraping change), or more efficiently Didsbury Wife (on time and with shiny coins). Breath was taken in sharply and with all seriousness we told him the truth.

The tooth fairy is very touchy, always getting hassle from the elves and the Easter Bunny, like all bullying it makes her insecure. If you say out loud she doesn’t exist… She stops coming until you apologise and admit she does. This direct approach works. We had previous experience when he announced, aged 6, that he thought he might support the red team. His suitcase came down from the wardrobe and we sadly explained that he would have to go and live elsewhere; but Santa is a whole different story.

Being Jewish has been useful in this conundrum. I am neutral in the battle of logic over love. I am also a staunch believer in magic and was brought up to believe that fairies, elves and goblins live happily among us and love Chicken Soup and kosher meat.

So this year the question of whether Santa exists has not been asked. The letter was dutifully written and contained a good balance of the unlikely, the un-buyable and the un-missable. We have an unmentioned truce. Although there have been knowing looks and nods, it’s all quiet on the existence front.

The elves stay hiden making Christmas Presents for good boys and girls

Our pastry for mince pies is in the fridge ready to roll and we have discussed what Santa likes to drink. Questions about why Santa left a receipt for Decathlon lying around last year have been swept under the carpet until Didsbury Son develops a greater handle on rationalism or I give up on trying to interest him in football.

Midweek Musings: Pass the Portfolio

I have had so many jobs that my portfolio career path is studied by NASA. My business card has a blank line with “Today I am a …..” and explaining to Didsbury Son how working hard at school and gaining qualifications will always set him up falls into two broad categories.
1. Do as I say not as I did.
2. The generic term freelancer is not a business category.

For various reasons yesterday we ended up in a radio station. After I had garbled knowlingly for a bit we ended upwith Didsbury Son sitting on my knee, repeating my phrasing as I moved him back and forward to keep his levels even.

Last time he came to work with me it was for a game of classroom Olympics as I hosted a “master class” and before that it was sitting astride a fibreglass bovine chewing fake grass whilst I pointed a camera at him and talked.

So Didsbury Son knows I talk mainly, sometimes loudly and sometimes in a funny voice. He thinks it’s a doddle and that Meeja Luvvy and Jack o’ all trades are terms of endearment.

Not all bad then and quite handy in a recession

The World is your Oyster

Didsbury son was away with cousins and grandparents on a cultural, being spoiled weekend in Stratford. A play, 5 meals a day plus snacks and the cultural delights of the Stratford-upon-Avon poundstretcher big chocolate bar offer made it a hit. He had an unforgettable time that left him tired and over emotional for at least three days.

A weekend to ourselves, a full tank of petrol, a full head of hair, some cash to play with and fires to be lit heralding our independence; lock up your late licence Didsbury Dad is back on the town.

For three weeks we talked through options. Should we start the day with a bottle in bed before we get up and then sway through the day until we end up in some boozy, bluesy joint, jamming with the North’s glitterati? We could throw that fabulous dinner party and repay the invitations that have have accrued; I am even willing to have the heating on ALL day. I suggested a walking tour of Didsbury’s delis from Burton Road to Parrs Wood until I passed out. Or we could lie-in, yes lie-in, read the papers, make plans and head to our favourite tapas bar on Beech Road in Chorlton (I know, but I try to embrace foreign climes every now and then) before descending into a chorizo and Rioja induced stupor having righted everything in our and everyone else’s world.

I toyed with a trip North to watch football, a day in London, a trip to the cinema for something more enticing than a PG CGI Dancing Lion and wallowed in the possibilities of a 48 hour pass.

So there we were, me and Didsbury Wife. 7pm Saturday night, on the couch watching the average Horrible Bosses on an allegedly Sony HD video stream that seized up every 37 seconds (precise if nothing else). In front of us in the table we had laid waste to a pot coffee and a small bar of chocolate. There had been a trip to the hairdressers, a visit to a new nephew and we did make it for tapas; but after 2 drinks we came home.

Bliss. With a mouthful of coffee and chocolate and a film that could barely sustain interest we revelled in… Doing nothing. However I did get to watch Match of the Day and tidy a cupboard or two.

That was it. Really. That was it. The opportunity came and went and when Didsbury son returned, full of joie de vivre, sugar and lack of sleep we had nothing to interrupt the Burroughs esque narrative.

So, this weekend. There is a hint of sniffling and coughing that looks like it could develop into a lie-in verging on man-flu. Notions of Christmas shopping, decoration and preparation could take a back seat whilst the heating goes on, the chocolate comes out and the video stream fails regularly.

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