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, 2012”

The Euro Crisis reaches Didsbury

I’ve been working in the Northern Quarter today. It’s been like walking through my past with rose-tinted organic glasses. Manchester’s Northern Quarter is like West Didsbury without a hospital, with more people looking nervously at passing police cars and no cupcakeries

The 142 to and from town is a good indicator of the city’s temperature. At this time of year it is full of braying Home Counties émigrés trying to sound unfeasibly hip, only to give themselves away with comments such as
“New Business School, it’s proper sick (sic)”
Aah the 142, trolling up and down Wilmslow Road and depositing me home to the iPoddingly hopeful embrace of Didsbury Son and the virtually popping with pregnancy Didsbury Wife. Home – to a Didsbury Village wracked with uncertainty, insecurity and change as Euro’s crisis sees us lose Spain and Italy in one week.

La Tasca GONE. La Tasca, as Spanish as a Co-op baguette is French, whose Iberian cuisine is sourced from the olive groves off the M60, gone. La Tasca, home to some memorable celebrations and unfeasibly priced Albondingas. No longer can we marvel at Spanish spoken with flattened Northern vowels pronouncing Rioja with a K. If La Tasca can just shut without warning then what hope the stainless tables and unscraped chairs of Gourmet Burger King; where the staff to diner ratio matches that of the canteen at a High Security prison.

The new menu at La Tasca

Enough? No. Felicini’s is no more. Its having a paint and makeover and a new menu, a new name and a new identity. Just tell us the truth. Felicini’s is an ex Didsbury resident. it didn’t try to expand sideways into Delia’s? It didn’t aim to go upwards to incorporate the only health and beauty salon never to advertise, it is more radical. This morning I wondered if Felicini’s was going to launch a new Italian menu that shuns Pizza, pasta and Parmesan to return coccoon like to The Didsbury Village Wine Bar? I wasn’t too far off. It’s a coffee emporium with baked extras. Lucky, as we are down to our last 10 coffee choices in the village.

Holland and Barratt still hasn’t opened, the proposed hairdresser stil hasn’t snipped, Didsbury Village Farm shop is already having a re-fit and apparently the RSPCA shop doesn’t sell animals.

It is nearly October. The nights are drawing in and if I had any idea who might care… I could swear it was a conspiracy to cut out the middle man and move Didsbury to MediaCityUK.

“Enough, there is no more. ‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before.”

20120927-202715.jpg

Didsbury Wife surveys the venue formerly known as Felicini’s

 

Didsbury Dad’s Three Part Guide: 1. West Didsbury

Part 1: The West…

None of the research in this piece is specific, scientific or socially significant. Any misconception, misrepresentation or misanthropy is purely there for alliterative reasons and I blame the 80s.

Mooching M20 with Didsbury Son has always been a favourite pursuit and I have had to start thinking about routes that will take a double buggy with a coffee holder as we prepare to welcome twins into the family tradition of wandering aimlessly; all this wandering – it’s my cultural heritage.

Clyde Road. A three-storeyed gateway linking Barlow Moor Road’s former cutting edge with Lapwing Lane’s BoHo entry to Westworld. Barlow Moor Road used to host The Barleycorn and Mr Marvel’s Cafe. The Barleycorn, a former casino where my own Didsbury Dad and Mum lived as a young couple was the first pub I ever went into. At occasional stages I was almost cool enough to go downstairs. Mr Marvel, a now empty basement opposite Moor Allerton pre-dated Art of Tea and Costafication by several generations. Its lure for older kids and its promise of smokey naughtiness, pinball and … coffee was enticing and a little scary.

But Clyde Road. Now that was West Didsbury; a combination of dance school, studio flats and huge houses seemingly packed with dressing up boxes, tobacco and wannabees. Clyde Road leads to Lapwing Lane and Burton Road – the heart of West Didsbury. Once faded, now sought after and a go-to place for boys with big cars, girls with big heels and developers with an eye for renovation.

Lapwing Lane has always held a fascination for me since childhood. I always thought that Withington Town Hall would make a great nightclub. Lapwing Court’s flat roofs and balconies were chic beyond belief and the venue now known as The Metropolitan was a monolith in the heart of my world.

Piccolino’s was The Nose. The Nose was groundbreaking. When Liz owned it, Henry worked the kitchens and Sonia served it was the daytime Madchester office cum hangout. The Midland, first with Bilko’s and then MVITA brought the world to West Didsbury and a party to every weekend.

Duwe’s brilliant bakery is now Pete’s stylish Steranko and where I cycled with my Didsbury Dad for bagels from Somers is now a wooden furniture treasure trove. The impressive Withington Hospital may have been diminished and hawked for a development with the look of an open prison but Burton Road is a journey through Didsbury’s past through to its future. The Canadian Charcoal Pit has been there from a time when cup cakes being global currency was as improbable as Manchester being a destination city, but Folk fits seamlessly into Westworld and from the mosque to Withington Baths is a cultural journey with room for both of us, coffees and a pram with more gadgets than a James Bond Aston Martin DB7.

Didsbury Dad’s random recommendations in West Didsbury:

Folk: great vibe, great food, service so bad it’s entertaining.

Ghurka Grill: the extension gives more menu sampling opportunity.

Orchard Street: I like a mooch up and down.

Crazy Wendy’s: I like to walk past.

The Shop on the corner opposite Piccolino’s. always something beautiful.

The Metropolitan: I like to go there to watch the beautiful people and count my blessings I am married and Didsbury Son means I have to go home early.

Scans, scams and taxis

I had a terrible flash forward at the weekend. I have seen the future and it’s expensive, slow and not good for the knees.
Now newly ensconced in big school, Didsbury Son had a Saturday morning something or other to get to for 9am. Didsbury Wife, now 35 weeks pregnant and moving like an England central defender needed John Lewis nursery department and a school outfitters with which to argue. Didsbury Son had then concocted an arrangement including walking around with a friend, computers and a park. Didsbury Wife spends most nights trawling the Internet with other nocturnal and insomniac mothers-to-be and Didsbury Fat Cat had his eye on the M&S chicken I had been marinading.

Like a seemingly innocuous introduction to Casualty when you know the cutest of kittens will set off a chain of events that leaves several people limbless in a shopping centre in Holby, I walked blindly into this domestic version of daddom diabolic.

Preparing Didsbury Wife to leave the house now has more similarities with turning a tanker than popping out for a coffee. Didsbury Son’s ability to lose objects he owns is consistent, impressive and one great trait he inherited from me. If I actually leave our road without at least 2 trips back for phone, keys, glasses, wallet, pass It means I have to spend a day without them.

My planned Saturday, 5Live, David Pluck, SkySports and The Guardian were soon to disintegrate.

After 6 hours of school, John Lewis, Monkhouses, school, Didsbury Son friend, Didsbury wife hair appointment, picking up a lost Didsbury Son and getting everyone home I realised two things
1: with twins on the way my role as driver and roving cashpoint were now established until at least the 22/23 season.
2: My own Didsbury Dad’s ability to disappear into a quiet room at every opportunity is a skill to master.

I also found out that betting on your phone in a school car park on the 2.20 at Chester is the self-esteem equivalent of changing for games next to the biggest kid in the class.

Tottenham Court Road v Wilmslow Road, take me home

London has a habit of draining you more quickly than a visit to The Trafford Centre. Sometimes it is uplifting; sporting occasions, big events, trips with children – fantastic. But being down here for a day’s work, even with the ease of the Pendolino reminds what I love about living and working in Manchester.

I have had a successful day here. Done the deal, power shaken and been part of the metropolis on the day we celebrated our renewed sporting
prowess and organisational skill with a dash of open-hearted humanity.

But the thousand tiny cuts that such a commute makes to your humanity has me reaching for the dictionary to re-define parochial as “Home Sweet Home”. Each time I am down here I realise how much I have changed my priorities. I have a hour so to kill. In the past it would have been reaching for my diary, heading for bar and looking for an experience.

Now I am sitting in a coffee shop on Tottenham Court Road surrounded by technology shops thinking how much better this would be with Didsbury Son next to me hurrying me to drink up for a look around.

He would be in heaven at the idea of rows and rows of shop fronts stacked with Beats headphones, XBoxes, Samsung, Sony and all things micro-chipped. Didsbury Son would be prodding, playing,grabbing and dropping everything he could before talking me into buying him something just beyond his own understanding, and therefore way beyond mine. Technologically I peaked at Kinder Eggs and electronic game wise it was Donkey Kong.

He would lose interest in it on the way home and before it was shoved in a drawer, re-packaged for a minor cousin or eBayed it would remind me of a day out.

Similarly Decathlon and any sports shopping is always immeasurably
dull without our game of covering up all the team shirts of which we disapprove with those of a more acceptable hue.

This game of red and blue cat and mouse with the staff is up there with pants on the head in the amusement longevity states.

So, until the next half-term break or weekend when we can sneak off and turn a dull task into a snigger fest I will be a dutiful Didsbury Dad. I will make my calls, send my mobile emails and mooch around the shops looking for a suitable little gift for him, before buying something crap from Euston as I rush for the train having found a bar to while away the time.

20120910-161850.jpg

A Didsbury State of Mind

If not exactly cracking the flags, the sunshine this weekend is welcome. Whether it is an Indian summer, a dead cat bounce or the  beginning of the Mayan predicted Armageddon it is a bonus.

A combination of new school, new routine and new shoes has thrown Didsbury Son’s clock and he woke me up at 6 this morning full of angst and energy. After failing to fob him off and feign sleep I gave in and we headed out for a long-overdue mooch around the not so mean streets of M20 to see what was going on.

Image

The demands on schoolchildren get harder. Didsbury Son’s pencil case is an installation

It is sometimes only in the early morning quiet when I have time to look at the nooks, buildings, shapes and shrubberies of Didsbury that I realise how lucky we are to live here. From the back-to-back gentrification behind the village, through the quirky individualism of West Didsbury and the barber-strewn Lane that links East to Central it is a good place to live. Didsbury evolves – not just the burgeoning influence of the Metrolink or Whitbread’s thankfully thwarted Costafication, but some creative building and extending on Lapwing Lane and the re-invention of West Didsbury. Didsbury Son decided on reasons why he loved living here and what he didn’t like.

The only gripes we could really find were traffic, bus lanes with cameras and Kansas Fried Chicken sample boxes that litter the streets on a weekend morning.

Didsbury Son loves Subway, The Knitting Shop, The Albert Club Didsbury Park and going into shops and bars where people have known him from being Didsbury bump, baby, toddler, infant, junior and now his own boy. He enthused about the Metrolink building, Fusion Deli and Burton Road. I like the wide open spaces of Gourmet Burger King and the festivals throughout the year. I am also partial to Art of Tea, Didsbury Village Farm Shop and the river.

Simonsbridge and its pathways, flowers and opportunities are a rite of passage for any Didsbury Son.  The fun as a child, potential joy as a teenager and the satisfaction as a grown-up offered by Fletcher Moss are essential. On Jewish New Year we cast our sins (masquerading as bread) over the bridge to the welcoming ducks in a symbolic cleansing and actual duck-fattening and the flood gates in Parrs Wood are a tourist attraction worth a trip.

Other cities may call it a chance to case people’s houses – we call it Open Gardens. Didsbury Arts Festival has once again announced a line-up that’s a combination of international class and local eccentric and I can sit on my step and watch the world and tuck Didsbury Son in to the sound of the village going on late…

Image

This shot of the riverbank has now been overused mercilessly; maybe it is time for some new photos

It must be the weather. On days like this even the week’s accumulated mess seems to wink up at me cheekily from its last resting place on the floor.

Welcome Giddy Goat, goodbye Summer Holiday

The more things change, the more they come back as Barbers, Charity Shops and Coffee Shops (Shskespeare).

As the Pixie fled Albert Hill Street to re-open with (thankfully) the same staff and 90% of the same stock as Linen, so it is Rumpus we shed a tear for as Louise bids farewell to staring at the front of the Post Office counting the illegally parked 4x4s. Bye bye Rumpus, hello Giddy Goat Toys. Same idea, different people and with twins on the way I have a feeling I’ll be there plenty. I liked Rumpus. With that at one end of the village and the brief but intense Razma Reads at the other we had the independent balance that Costa, Croatia and Caffe Nero’s Red Green Blue coffee colour chart has. brought to Wilmslow Road. Bear with me, by now even I have no idea where my mind has wandered to but there is reason.

This week is one that all parents anticipate and count down to with the enthusiasm of a teenage New Years’ Eve party; back to school day. Didsbury’s 107 Barbers from Chalky White on Fog Lane to Bohemian Rhapsody (made up name*) on Burton Road were full of sulky Didsburylings getting their short smart school haircuts. The cupcake emporiums were then full of mothers looking to appease their shorn offspring and MCS stores on Didsbury’s Eastern border was a picture of parental hell and soon-to-be-pupil unrest.

Anyone who sees buying school uniform as a pleasure is either stupid or role-playing. It is school shoe tiring, tie-teaching, grey sock searching misery that drains hearts and wallets with equal vigour. Didsbury Son is actually pretty easy; but by Tuesday we had still failed to track down gym shorts and our will to live was ebbing away.

I had been to John Lewis, M&S, Asda, Tesco and Decathlon chasing the elusive grail of stain-free suitable shorts. This depressing chainstore crawl had me praying to breakdown. At 4.59, leaving Didsbury Son head down in Pokemonland I stepped in to MCS School Outfitters. The queue stretched around the shop, the sunken cheeked queue ees mouthed hopeless pleas to me and the smell of sweat and fear engulfed me. It was as though Didsbury had been invaded and the refugees were making sure they had the right PE kit before they fled.

I turned around, mentally wrote a note for Didsbury Son’s teacher and counted down the hours to my first fantastically solo coffee since July.

Sometimes parenting means looking without your glasses on.

20120907-004831.jpg

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: