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 “March, 2012”

Didsbury Favours the Brave

Didsbury Son has his dream weekend coming up. Four days climbing and living in a converted cave in Derbyshire with a dozen other Didsbury Sons and daughters. Washing 0, food tinned and dried, hopeless songs plenty and the chance to form deep friendships, build self-esteem and team skills and reach a new sense of achievement. Sounds hellish to me.

It ticks all the boxes I have for why being an adult beats childhood hands down. I don’t have to share a room with strangers, eat communally off a tin plate, hide my mistrust of enclosed spaces, physical challenges and eat cheap baked beans.

My challenge is to persuade Didsbury Wife that this is not 96 hours of health and safety anxiety and general concern, but a chance for a lie-in, to talk openly about friends and family without having to censor ourselves and a chance to have breakfast without questions and a couch free of gadgets.

I thought back to my time as a junior Didsbury Son and can honestly say that at no point would the chance to camp in a cave and climb anything outweigh the lure of… Well Almost anything to be honest..

I once hiked across a historical desert land as a teenager; going through caves and rocky knolls (whatever they are). The deep anxiety and chronic claustrophobia this bred has left me happy to stay at home and get my kicks in other ways less scary.

My idea of an outdoors adventure as a Didsbury Junior was playing football until it got dark and raiding the snack cupboard on the way in. If I needed to commune with nature there was Go With Noakes. Chris Bonnington climbed mountains so I could watch Tiswas and fancy Sally James until we were old enough to go to Hollies’ school discos. We got plenty of danger negotiating the Stop Inn Kebab Shop after dark at weekends.

A good scout is always prepared and so is his dad. I am already looking at weekend breaks .

The pictures below are staged but feature a construction by Didsbury Son built to avoid watching live football on TV, whilst Fletcher Moss’ Rock Garden represents a desert trip I took that left me happy to retire my crampons before ending my teenage years. No scouts were involved in the arranging of these photographs

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Gimmee Shelter

The impossible has happened, the balance of power has shifted; the supermarkets and banks are outflanked. Prepare for a turf war there’s a new charity shop in the village.

Shelter, with a neon sign proclaiming their residence have set-up next to Oxfam in the spot vacated by David Pluck. I had a friend who would use the two Plucks as staging posts. Place a bet at one end, stroll the length of the village slowly enjoying a smoke and check how he had done at the other end, with the option of a celebratory Costa or Subway; symmetry.

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Now the new Shelter has surprised me for two reasons. First, there surely can’t be an attic, granny flat or kid’s toy box in South Manchester with anything left for eBay or passing on through the generations. Between 15 charity shops, Christian Aid, Domestic and foreign collections and the effect of the weather there are bare spare rooms and empty dressing up boxes across the village.

Secondly, this stops the natural expansion of uber charity shop, laureate endorsed hypermarket, Oxfam. Would Macy’s open next to Bloomingdales? Pepsi next to Coke? Costa next to Nero, let’s move on.

Whereas Pluck’s had only been somewhere that Didsbury Son was made to wait outside whilst Didsbury Dad and Uncle re-invested his sweet money, Shelter offers the opportunity to search for glitchless games and unscratched CDs.

Oxfam, with it’s impeccable credentials, lovely peanut butter and vastly over-priced books. I always imagined them spreading north until The Crown became the Oxfam Bar and Grill.

Aah well. At least the new Shelter will offer somewhere for their inappropriately dressed, over-zealous street hawkers to retire to when the pace gets too frantic outside Boots and they feel the glare of Barnados and Mind staff burning through their red tabards.

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Geese have flown in from as far as Canada to be ready for Friday's planned opening

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Not West Didsbury

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Palatine Road, Take Me Home

I have just spent a week away on an allegedly glamorous job in a guilded city. Now I normally take a South Manchester Reporter and a pic of Didsbury Library with me if I’m on an overnight, so 5 days with no Fusion Deli, no Greenhalgh v Greggs Strategy and 5 days without wondering what some of the shops on School Lane sell would be tricky.

5 days with no Didsbury Son. The novelty of no questions, access to a television and use of my own computer wore off by the end of Day 1.

By the end of Day 2 I could almost wish to trail behind him as he moonwalked out of clothes, toys and gadgets to pick them up disapprovingly.

By 3, the joy of homework and tooth brushing seemed like a gift and by the end of Day 4 I was willing to watch Star Wars.

What I also noticed was a little heartwarming reciprocity. Our first afternoon call was 8 bored seconds drowned out by CBBC. By day 4 it was as though we had met in a bar in Alaska having found out we went to our first teenage party together at Didsbury Scout Hut.

I made a triumphant return. Didsbury Wife and Son were out, thin moody lady cat harrumphed a bit and sloped in as I unloaded the car and began remarking my territory.

I thought back to the space I had just enjoyed in one of Britain’s top fast foodesque hotel chains. The UHT treated portion millac(R) that always makes the tea taste of plastic more than milk. The power shower with the average flow of an octogenarian and the walls so paper thin I was able to clap along with the amorous couple next door.

The freedom of eating a takeaway in bed squinting at a TV that only spiderman could have placed was only trumped by the 3am fire alarm, accompanied by tatooed cheers from the bar floors below. Wilmslow Road, you never looked so good.

The homecoming didn’t really start until Didsbury Fat Cat, sensing a treat or two began to swish around me like a Stoke centre-half at a corner.

This was just a warm-up. Didsbury Son leapt at me like he was four again. I swirled him around and remembered all the good things about being Didsbury Dad.

M20 Top 10

This much I know… Spring is starting to breakthrough with green and blue starting to edge out the grey. It set me thinking about My 10 favourite places in Didsbury.

1. The little “beach” by the Mersey between Simon’s Bridge and the Parrs Wood flood plain. It’s a little haven awash with scrabbling Jack Russells and careful parents watching small children who think they are in Abersoch or Blackpool. You can see herons, can’t hear traffic or golfers and can walk for miles or pop back through Fletcher Moss; just gorgeous.

2. The garden next to The Olde Cock. This walled floral palace is a Fletcher Moss warm-up. Didsbury Son likes to climb the trees. I like the flowers and the space whilst slurping coffee from The Didsbury (pre Costa franchise).

3. The Old Railway Line / New Metrolink. Gone now to make way for the metro but the Didsbury section hosted my favourite Saturday mornings, walking a tiny Didsbury Son up and down a magic avenue full of bright graffiti, shopping trolleys and remnants of nights gone by. A thoroughfare of dogs to stroke, runners to avoid and shortcuts to the scout hut, the park and Tescos for Saturday morning breakfast. Also a sled run when it gets icy.

4. Fusion Deli: a haven of great coffee and a proper welcome from Pete and Tom. Nowhere else could a £2 bag of crisps seem like a good deal.

5. The Slug & Lettuce. Has hosted some memorable moments. None more than my first meeting with Didsbury Wife. She thought I looked like a bouncer, I thought she looked tasty. Been guarding the door since.

6. Burton Road. It’s constant evolution, boho sensibility and Co-Op are a perfect blend.

7. Withington Baths: always unnervingly warm with changing options from a bygone era. In the 80s you could smoke in the gym room.

8. My mum’s kitchen. Or as it is widely know, The Jewish Homeland.

9. Inman’s. Any day you see Josie has to be a good day. Football banter without malice and an Archersesque feeling of continuity.

10. My back garden on a summer’s night sitting back with Didsbury Wife whilst Didsbury Son is asleep listening to the sounds of the village wafting across and making big big plans.

Joint 11th: The Manor House, Fog Lane park when it had a zoo, walking up Parkfield Road when the trees all block the sun, the building formerly known as The Barleycorn, Mr Marvel and Withington Town Hall.

Next week… My top ten dogs in Didsbury Park, my top ten Independent cake shops in West Didsbury and Wilmslow Road’s greatest charity shops

Wii love you

“When I were a lad we got nothing for Christmas. You don’t know you’re born.” I have always wanted to say that to Didsbury Son. However, first, I am Jewish and we got great Chanucah presents and secondly, existential concepts around the notion his own birth can only lead to a major premise that I am pointlessly waffling at him and a minor premise that I have interrupted The Cleveland Show with something pointless. In fact, so pointless it made me trying to get him to memorise our team’s squad numbers before he knew his times tables as a noble bit of parenting.

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Tempura - the nearest interest I have to Manga

 

But Didsbury Son has achieved. Achieved way beyond expectation and with his customary nonchalance and grace. The reward was an hour in The Trafford Centre hyperventilating whilst we considered the axis of dweevil;  Curry’s, GAME, HMV and John Lewis. We knew it wouldn’t be John Lewis, but out of respect for my class and Didsbury Wife we  went anyway. I have always wanted to go to a GAME staff party and ask if an Ewok was in Pokemon or Star Wars as I always get them mixed up with Princesses Leia, Eugenie and Zelda

Curry’s: Mike, a superb example of 12 year old enthusiasm in a 25 year old body embraced Didsbury Son’s desire for more gizmos in a way I could never have even neared. As they milked me at the till he described how to leap a frog and strike something several times to get to somewhere else that looked like The Seargant Pepper front cover. I paid, we left and once home, installed and Zelda’d up to the eyelashes…. Silence

Really. Peace. Occasionally I checked he was OK; stopped him for the odd water and snack break but it entertained him in a way Soma could only have dreamed of doing; stopped him asking me questions just as the scores came on the radio and left him satisfied in a seldom-seen manner.

A Wii; like having a playful babysitter turn up on demand when you need a few hours peace. I can’t believe I have wasted this long trying parenting and engagement and other great concepts that seem good when you read about them in The Observer.

I have seen the future. I may no longer have access to a television but I have gained a day each weekend.

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All attempts to get the ducks to join in with Wii Sports Resot failed miserably

 

A village cries and a pixie leaves

So another Pixie leaves the magic garden as Albert Hill Street’s chic boutique for mini Freya’s and Archie’s shuts it’s doors next week.

Sad news for those of us who gulped at the price of clothing designed primarily to be thrown up on and in, grown out of in seconds and rolled around in mud until it was too dirty even for eBay.

Didsbury Son was one of Pixie’s first customers and probably one of its least frequent; but I will miss the lovely staff, the minimal decor and the challenge of steering Didsbury Wife to the Post Office without catching sight of it on the way in or out.
I will miss the cheery key in the door with the cry of how great the Sale was at Pixies , how beautiful Didsbury Son will look in whatever lurks expensively in the bag and how much we have saved.

Sales at expensive boutiques to me are like bankers turning down bonuses. It only brings them near enough to the average focus so you can clearly see the finger being extended in your direction.

So we have a Didsbury Village dilemma. The allegedly underhand doings at Coco Rio have seen the premises handed back. Pizza Hut’s blackened doors are no nearer being a John Lewis Express and there is a soon to be gap next Rumpus.

Can we squeeze another supermarket or coffee chain in (The Didsbury now proudly boasts Costa Coffee which means Whitbreads are slowly surrounding Nero), a new charity shop, an Estate Agents, a bank or is this time for the new independents to regrace the village ?

As a footnote, I will miss Pixie, although I must admit that when I spend a night out’s money on children’s clothing it needs to be drip dry, static and have the club badge over his heart.

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