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 “May, 2012”

Commemorating 200 years since the USA declared war on us

11.30am Didsbury Village. With proofing to prove, edits to edit and organidling to organise I escaped to Caffe Nero. The shrill of competitive parenting was overwhelming. Assorted too young or too sniffly for school juniors piped hopefully, but the sound of bragging about offspring and moaning about partners was reaching a crescendo. It clashed hideously with Boden’s summer rainwear collection in such a disorienting manner that then men who stare at goats were taking notes.

I escaped to the relative tranquility and surly Balkan service of Didsbury Deli; a turquoise balance to the United and City of Costa and Nero.

I like it here. Young men talk business and older people discuss the time when Sivoris, Hurst’s Chemists, GT Blagg and Applethwaites dominated the village. It’s too narrow for a buggy, too reverby for shrilled instructions to carry without distortion and they serve Illy.

Today Didsbury Son went on a hospital visit with school dressed patriotically in red, white and blue. This unlikely combination, like Gourmet Burger King and a queue is likely to unsettle people or recreate hallucinations. If your first sight on regaining consciousness was 30 Pre-teens in union jack outfits you may feel you had come round too late to enjoy the pleasure of a coffee in Didsbury Village.

With SATS over and time to fill before the big holiday every schoolday has a theme, visit or rehearsal. I got so confused last week I began scanning the papers for National Days that could be celebrated .

June 1st celebrates St. Candida and is 200 years to the day since US President James Madison declared war on The United Kingdom. My suggestion that Didsbury Son goes dressed as a redcoat and then, taking a atoon of Year 4s, stands guard outside Subway distributing leaflets about Candida fell on dead ears.

Aah well. Back to my coffee and blank piece of paper and onwards to Friday. It’s half-term and Didsbury Son can dress as he likes, watch TV drinking Fanta and spend 15 minutes describing the plot of The Cleveland Show to me as I scan the Internet for new football kits over which I can obsess.

The picture below is nothing to do with the blog.

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The Patriots visit Hospital

11.30am Didsbury Village. With proofing to prove, edits to edit and organidling to organise I escaped to Caffe Nero. The shrill of competitive parenting was overwhelming. Assorted too young or too sniffly for school juniors piped hopefully, but the sound of bragging about offspring and moaning about partners was reaching a crescendo. It clashed hideously with Boden’s summer rainwear collection in such a disorienting manner that then men who stare at goats were taking notes.

I escaped to the relative tranquility and surly Balkan service of Didsbury Deli; a turquoise balance to the United and City of Costa and Nero.

I like it here. Young men talk business and older people discuss the time when Sivoris, Hurst’s Chemists, GT Blagg and Applethwaites dominated the village. It’s too narrow for a buggy, too reverby for shrilled instructions to carry without distortion and they serve Illy.

Today Didsbury Son went on a hospital visit with school dressed patriotically in red, white and blue. This unlikely combination, like Gourmet Burger King and a queue is likely to unsettle people or recreate hallucinations. If your first sight on regaining consciousness was 30 Pre-teens in union jack outfits you may feel you had come round too late to enjoy the pleasure of a coffee in Didsbury Village.

With SATS over and time to fill before the big holiday every schoolday has a theme, visit or rehearsal. I got so confused last week I began scanning the papers for National Days that could be celebrated .

June 1st celebrates St. Candida and is 200 years to the day since US President James Madison declared war on The United Kingdom. My suggestion that Didsbury Son goes dressed as a redcoat and then, taking a atoon of Year 4s, stands guard outside Subway distributing leaflets about Candida fell on dead ears.

Aah well. Back to my coffee and blank piece of paper and onwards to Friday. It’s half-term and Didsbury Son can dress as he likes, watch TV drinking Fanta and spend 15 minutes describing the plot of The Cleveland Show to me as I scan the Internet for new football kits over which I can obsess.

The Sun, The Didsbury and The Blue Harbour

We’re having a heat wave, dah dah dah dah dah dah, a tropical heat wave, dah dah dah dah dah dah. It means June will be cloudy dah dah dah dah dah dah dah and slightly depressing…

A tree with yellow flowers soaks up the May sun

It is gorgeous. The kind of bright sunshine with balmy nights that make you forget who and what you are.

In my mind, as I strolled through Didsbury Park to the train station I was the suave looking and stylish young professional in the kind of outfit a Bermudan banker would wear to work. Topped off with my pristine Air Force 1s.

The reality of the wide berth granted me by dog walkers and early-to-school sun lovers was different. I am swerving dangerously close to BHS’s target market. An unintentionally close-fitted blue harbour collection with Asda socks and a three-day stubble that made me look like an extra in a Ken Loach film; who had stolen his teenage son’s shoes.

Didsbury Son doesn’t mind, yet. He is still on that cusp where brand recognition is not yet an issue and he thinks many Didsbury Dads see wearing long trousers to work as an affront to legs honed to near perfection on the occasionally working exercise bikes at The Galleon.

Everywhere looks good in this weather. But it has its domestic dangers. Yesterday I worked outside. Today I am the shade of red called “Fire” or “Salsa Roja” by car makers and “you should know better” by GPs and the woman in Boots who sneered in my direction. (not Didsbury Boots, where David in the pharmacy is a prince among men but an inferior outlet).

It is the sounds and smells of the city that really make this early summer sun so special. The sound in the park of teenage boys’ newly broken voices bragging, as they lope around looking achingly uneasy in their ill-fitting skins. They search for cross-gender communication skills unused in Sniper Elite.

The smell of barbecues mixes with people caught out by the hot weather. Personal hygiene malfunctions blend with the skinned up smell of summer spiffs that waft on the breeze across M20.

The hot spell has finally kicked off some sense of Jubilee anticipation. My cynicism at the general recycling of all the Kate and Wills merchandise without the photos is melting in the May sunshine. We are Mancs. An extra day off and hot weather gets United fans cheering City, Didsbury Son lurking by the washing up in the hope of more outside play and gives me the knowledge that this year Blue Harbour is the suburban Prada and I have a George Clooney vibe a la Descendents (2nd Half).

NEXT WEEK – THE BARBERS OF SCHOOL LANE V THE COFFEE SHOPS OF DIDSBURY VILLAGE – WHO WILL WIN?

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Work on the new Didsbury Deli continues

I Think We’re in Didsbury – Didsbury Dad responds

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In Didsbury even the pencils go large

I THINK WE’RE IN DIDSBURY – A RESPONSE

Martin Wallace and Matthew Green’s “I think we’re in Didsbury” is a cheeky viral hit. The use of Tiffany’s “I think we’re alone now” is inspired and the song is very funny… in parts. There is a clever stills video of landmarks, ladies lunching, gratuitous scantily clad woman eating chocolate and the focacciability of Didsbury summed up.

The shot of the old Capitol Theatre had me wistful and some of the lines are razor sharp. But. It misses the point about why Didsbury is so popular and diverse; what makes us love our little piece of land that’s so handy for town, airport, M56 and the river. It is also more Wilmslow and Alderley Edge and the man in the crocheted jumper has Chorlton stamped all over him.

Didsbury is more than “knit your yoghurt” ((c) Alexei Sayle), cycle-helmet wearing yummy mummies, shouting across media types and once-known victims from the 70s to their Boden wearing Freyas and Archies to eat their houmous.

Didsbury is not just posh fairy cakes and braying relocated southerners who came here to study and then stayed.

Didsbury is a community at its centre, west and east. We are a suburb that still has heart. The streets shook on Sunday night as The Crown, The Nelson, The Station and The Dog hosted City’s impromptu celebration party. There was no trouble, just generations of repressed sky blues venting their joy in their local with quite a few of their red mates joining in anyway as it was a Didsbury Street party.

The Albert Club is a throwback and a way forward, like online community TV that could work. The independents, crafts and creatives rub shoulders with religions living in relative harmony and close proximity; whilst there is something for all tastes and pockets from Aldi to The Cheese Hamlet, Kansas Fried Chicken to Greens. If you have never had a trick done for you by the guy in Freshsave (Aladdin’s cave of pungent spices, cheap flowers and fresh fruit squashed between Cash for Gold and Tiger Properties on Wilmslow Rod) then you have not lived.

The Metropolitan is the latest incarnation of a venue which has served West Didsbury for generations. Now it is Lattecinno, Chardonnayesque, a pied-piper to the upwardly single, but this was also Bilko’s Nightclub at the back of The Midland in the early 80s and the dancefloor was a bouncebable likeness of Phil Silvers. The Mid. evolved into, arguably its finest moment –  MVITA (Manchester Vibe in the Area), Madchester’s legendary night where Didsbury DJs Madhatter and Spacecase and MC Alfonso once more brought the world to our village.

Fletcher Moss is stunning, that prison like estate they built off Cavendish Road left me stunned and The Metrolink goes across a track that generations of Mancunians have trodden, graffiti’d, snogged down and sledged in the snow.

Didsbury Son is the 4th generation to buy his sweets from Josie at Inman’s on Lapwing Lane and next door, Fusion Deli’s Pete and Tom represent much that is good about Didsbury. You always get a welcome, a good coffee, a sense of community and the best Olive Tofu this side of Chorlton.

So I herald our caffé culture, our handmade PinkyMinky and The Art of Tea. I note the lazy parents parking their 4x4s in 2x2s near our schools and the stereotypes that make us an easy target. But I love the hidden gems, wonky pavements, poets and poseurs that thrive on the not so mean streets of M20 and ShopCatLaura (http://shopcatlaura.wordpress.com0 in Harriet & Dee should be our Village Mascot.
 

I think We’re in Didsbury by Martin Wallace / Matthew Green http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fxID33Bh5f0

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The coffee in Didsbury is so special we take photos

The mysterious world of baking in Didsbury

There is one Didsbury favourite that I fail understand. Over the years I have been fortunate to spend time with some great intellectual minds. I have been inspired by academics; I have worked with great writers and been in the vicinity of inspiring musicians who have taught me many wonderful things and explained many complicated ideas.

Didsbury Wife made Quantum Mechanics as straightforward as the offside rule for me. I can lip read Kenny Dalglish, see early on what Rolf is painting and remember when Burnage, Withington and Northenden had not been annexed by Estate Agents into some Prussianesque Greater Didsbury

But… Cupcakes. A cupcake is a fairy bun with a fascinator. A scone is not a gateaux, Aldi’s Norpak can’t believe it’s called butter and a Cupcake is nearer a Jaffa than a dinner date with Marie Antoinette.

A real cake – with fruit in its heart – maks a stance of defiance at Selfridges

A Cup Cake is the miniature poodle of sweet bakery. It’s all decoration. Iced promise and nothing to play with – but we have almost as many Cupcake shops as Charity Shops. The shops themselves are lovely. Airy Fairy Cup Cakes is a bright, sweet-smelling and welcoming space and the website can make you salivate. But airy and it’s  cupcakey mates to the West seem to have taken the hairdressers approach to naming themselves and this only serves to make me suspicious that it’s all name and no substance. You can’t dunk a cup cake.
Airy fairy meet Edward Scissorhands.
The Dish Ran Away With the Spoon say hello to KoolKutz
Gentleman’s Grooming you will play Year 3 Cookery class.
I made fairy buns in 1970something and ate them on the way home in the back of the Vauxhall Viva. Didsbury Son has brought home the spongesque, multi-coloured iced junior school staple and so have you.

News of a new Cupcake shop opening gets a positive reaction from the lunchtime queue at Gregg’s.

My dream of opening Jacked Up, a Flapjack Emporium / Urban Cakey Collective seems sensible in comparison; yet they prosper, as does the cup cake. 2 Broke Girls, an NYC comedy about to take over E4 has a cup cake as its central theme. There must be some FA Cupcake mementoes and the mark up would make Starbucks blush.

A bit like the secret of tying your shoelaces I don’t know how or why Cupcakes work, but they seem to. So is it me who is the too hot oven or the non-sealed Tupperware box? We should learn from the Brown Mushroom. It was an unloved sideshow to it closed cup cousins until a bright spark marketed it as a Portobello and suddenly we loved this mediterranean Funghi that baked beautifully with parmesan – but in its heart, back in the barrio, in the shtetl of mushroomness it was a brown mushroom. Cupcake, fairycake? I believe in fairies.

Didsbury Son has re-imagined a KitKat

Coming next week: Scaffolding, the new Didsbury Village fashion statement or finally, a replacement for Head Over Heels?

Cupcakes. But are they really patriotic?

Accidental Inheritance

We sat back after a special Didsbury Dad tea; all colours and flavours with no central theme. There was some male bonding, shared through a sigh, the odd grunt and a glassy-eyed happiness usually only seen in post-feed babies.

Didsbury Son looked at me and said the line that makes all dads swell with pride, rather than gas. “Dad, when I grow up I want to be just like you.”

Even as the words fell like the sweetest confetti on the happiest groom I could picture the majority of my poor decisions and wish Didsbury Son an adulthood with many differences and less crises.

I surreptitiously loosened my belt, squinted over my glasses at him and, reaching for an antacid replied,
“One day son, this will all be yours” pointing at a pile of papers that contained a credit card bill, a letter from school, two takeaway menus and a conference programme from March.

He smiled, scratched his nose and we both wondered what to do next.

Both of us savoured and inhaled the thought of success. Him considering the easy acquisition of My Wonderful Life, me deciding to crank up the homework and make sure his first significant A is not AA Roadside Assistance.

We returned to happy silence as I fought the urge to pontificate; failed, gave in to the urge and gave him a selectively edited version of my rise to being Didsbury Dad.

By the time I had finished I expected applause, tears, flowers at least.

I got a smile and a pat before he sloped off to watch TV with an encounter he may one day be able to pinpoint as the day he first began to see the gap between intent and actuality.

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The horn, the hamster, the goldfish and Jack Nicholson

I took Didsbury Son to a big sporting event last weekend.We left for  the capital for big treats all around and high excitement.

I made 2 errors with profound effects. 1. I brought him a horn. 2. I brought him a horn four hours before the event started.

A loud horn and a small boy, bad combination

Didsbury Son re-enacts Robin Hood’s call to arms

By the time the battle commenced the combination of constant horn honking, sugar rushes and overwhelm gave him an expression closer to Jack Nicholson just before he shouts “Here’s Johnny” than anyone I recognised.

As an experiment it was fascinating. As proof to me that I can zone out of any sound after a while it was interesting. As evidence that a honking horn can drive hard men to tears and drunken men to abusiveness it was conclusive.

By Half-Time he was so wired I honestly thought I would have to swap him before re-introducing him to Didsbury Wife later that night. I have tried this tack before with a goldfish and after the unfortunate incident when the kamikaze hamster, more suited to The Great Escape than the burbs leapt free from his cage straight down the throat of Didsbury Fat Cat.

It wouldn’t work. I used to get confused as to which one was Didsbury Son when he first started school. 20 odd 4 year olds launching at you in the same clothes is enough to confuse any dad, but mums know so I had to try something new, more sugar.

I was heartened by the overriding half-time sight of dozens of dads angrily trying to pacify overwrought and over-tired sons. Hapless pre-tens who were apeing the big men they saw around them, with hapless apemen trying to shout them back to calmness. I did what any sensible dad would do; plied him with Fanta and he got back to happily honking until an exasperated supersized Neanderthal begged me to get him to stop.

Six hours, 2 more hotdogs and a sleep in the car later we gratefully turned into M20. The sight of Cineworld heralding a a heroic return home. I half carried and poured Didsbury Son to bed, smiled at thoughts of our adventure, sipped my tea with Didsbury Wife and threw away the horn. He hasn’t noticed yet.

Lord of the Manor

Didsbury Son surveys the landscape of another glamorous day out

The work/life/letting your mind wander balance

This week I attended a creative conference. There were some moments of real clarity and the catering was excellent. In my line of media non-specificiality and Didsbury Dadding its an occasional perk. The line-up was impressive and the first speaker’s love for himself was heart-warmingly peerless. I was suited, the room was just warm enough and with the sound of success beginning to be a wallpaper background to the day. The perfect environment to:

1. Write VERY important to do lists and pledge a work/life balance that removes fat, adds cash and recreates The Waltons in M20 by June.

2. It’s May, so this is the right time to take advantage of free wi-fi access to work out definitively who will win The Premier League, Champions League, Leveson Enquiry and the BAFTAS.

3. Stare at the speaker whose distance from me takes him slightly out of focus to see if I can define an aura – 16 minutes in I am unsure if it’s an aura and more worried about it being the start of cataracts (up to C in my Encyclopaedia Hypochondria for 40 somethings with an overractive imagination).

It is this pitiful attention span for technical detail that allows me to empathise so clearly with Didsbury Son. Whilst my desire for quiet mornings strolling around in a dressing gown living in my head takes me ever nearer being a version of my own Didsbury Dad, my need for shiny objects, a break in pattern and love of the absurd spans the generations.

If I had any idea how to read any kind of plan more technical than a Kinder Egg I could be happy for hours. If I didn’t get a sense of wonder and the occasional fit of giggles just stepping outside then I would think I was someone else and Didsbury Son would possibly forget that stupid can be okay.

At what age does walking around with pants on your head pretending to walk down cellar steps whilst gurning stop being a way to start the day successfully?

And…

I have to present to potentially bored list makers at times and am wary of the mesmerising qualities a dull and detailed PowerPoint can have. Just as any good teacher should do and any decent presenter should know – once there is a murmur and a shuffle from the crowd, up your game.

Despite this need for stimulus I still try to instil in Didsbury Son the need to pay attention to adults and be respectful. It was in the “How To” pack SureStart were trialling when I first got the Didsbury Dad job. I do this whilst secretly working on my parenting opus. There is a book in all of us and mine is about the joy of being present whilst being absent-minded and away with the fairies. This ultimate guide to successful parenting and fulfilling relationships with children from an occasionally masculine viewpoint has a variety of working titles:

1. Ask your mother, she’ll have thought it through. My response is a reaction.

2. You don’t need to say thank you to everyone who gives you a biscuit

3. Please close the door, I need one place I can sit without being disturbed.
Or my current favourite, a guide and a title that sums up the beauty, love and joy of daddom. A title to encapsulate those nights spent glueing, sewing, cooking, cleaning, worrying, caring…
” You can keep asking questions but to be honest I am making it up as I go along and will do just about anything to get you to sleep before the football starts.”

As a student I had to read a book called “2000 Accidents”; this described in 10 year-old describing a carto detail the ergonomic disasters that befell people in America in the 60s. I recommend the anxious or OCD avoid at all costs. Horrible Histories’ Stupid Deaths does it quicker, funnier and implants it in your memory with a great joy.

When the guy still speaking finally finished I thought about suggesting he watches Horrible Histories and sees the display in Evans’ window for ideas before dazzling him with my creative interpretation of his speech and my clarity about who will win The Premier League.

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