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, 2012”

2012 – Barack Obama,, Sebastian Coe, Didier Drogba and Didsbury Son

It might seem a bit obvious to say this has been a big year for us but, it has been a very big year. Didsbury Son got a major role in the Year 6 school play. His bravura performance warranted at least a picture in the South Manchester Reporter. It was a natural antidote to taxijackings, muggings, charity bike rides and pictures of our MP John Leech but no, it was left to me to write an unbiased review for the family email list,

” Brilliant, a stunning performance and a rare departure from sitting on the couch watching Futurama or David Attenborough” – His father.

Something's going down on stage, not sure quite what

Something’s going down on stage, not sure quite what

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once these were filled it all changed

This was just the start; a year of sporting prowess saw me walking up and down stairs numerous times. Initially satisfying the cravings of pregnant Didsbury Wife for having me walk up and down stairs with cups of tea and latterly, with The Didsbury Twins. Having won a gold in the combined powerlifting and the triathlon ( carry them both up together, change them without a “waah” and return to mother without disturbing the dummy), I am creaky but hopeful. Didsbury son, in the most fantastical.Didsbury way, was worried that dummies may make them look Chavvy. Having experienced the noise of two crying babies at one time he soon became a convert – needs must.

For us this has been a year of change – new arrivals at home, Didsbury Son moving from the handholding minutiae of junior school to the fend for yourself bewilderment of senior school and the happy and sad family moments. We have had birth, mirth and departure. All part of life but it still takes you by surprise when life happens. If you are lucky enough to sail past 39 years and 364 days but you haven’t experienced the agony and ecstasy then you are poorer for it. Living next to somewhere as magnificent as Christie’s Cancer Hospital is a reminder of how fantastic and harsh life can be amid the Olive Tofu, 4x4s and hairdressers on tap in South Manchester.

Before I get too philosophical and begin counting my blessings a la Little House on the Prairie style, let me also point out that being in the sun for Christmas was brilliant and my first thought on getting home (well second after “How quickly can I get on 5Live?”) was ” who turned the lights off?”

British winter daylight is effectively 9-12 each day (clouds permitting) and this leaves Didsbury Son 10 hours a day to move between iPod, TV, computer and tablet.

So happy new year for 2013 from Didsbury Dad, Son, wife and twins. This year has seen most aspects of our lives change. It is not the sleepless nights, tennis elbow, cold tea, being thrown upon daily – that is the tip of the good stuff. It is the knowledge that this is a rare time to grasp and absorb.

Didsbury Wife will not breastfeed the twins in public. When I asked her why, thinking it was shyness, a touch of the prude or fear of being stared at, her answer surprised me. She told me that you never know if there is someone in the room who has had a miscarriage, been unable to conceive or has had anything in their life that could be made worse by a little triumphalism at the next table. Whilst I think feeding in public is fine and it is a free choice, it was this thought more than any other that made me realise my good fortune and how crass it would sound to moan about being tired. That and living within crawling distance of an M&S Simply Food and 36 hairdressers.

Have a lovely holiday season – back with more nonsense next year.

Whilst abroad we checked out different methods of childcare

Whilst abroad we checked out different methods of childcare

Lest We Forget – Those who came and those who left us in Didsbury 2012

Inevitably, indulgently, insignificantly, in anticipation the end of the year always adds a little maudlin touch to thoughts and you remember those who have departed before the year ends. This has been a big year for Didsbury. The hulk that was Pizza Hut transformed slowly. There were rumours of Waitrose, fears of another coffee chain and a bid for the village’s 500th hairdressers. We got Holland and Barratt.
A sweet shop has opened in Foster’s chippy, Gourmet Burger King proudly welcomed over 50 diners this year and Domino’s showed that to be successful the obvious can sometimes outweigh the clever and the village rolled on, not too posh to pizza.

Remember the Lillies - they cried when Felcini's closed

Remember the Lillies – they cried when Felcini’s closed

The Croatian Deli – green and central has expanded into a quasi resturant with London style and pricing and lovely staff and they stand like an island between the red Costa and the Blue Nero. The Art of Tea offers free wi-fi and the best toast in the village BUT… you can’t get a double buggy in there and I have had to find a new office. Didsbury Son left Didsbury Schooling which lowered my threshold for the baying, 4 x 4, badly parking, agressive and competitive mothers who think that schooling their progeny gives them a free pass in life and finally Didsbury Life gets quicker to read, less relevant and more like an Argos catalogue each month.

Bless The Reporter, The Airy Fairy Cake Company, Dids

More than just a snappy logo, The Didsbury Village Farm Shop knows the value of a good sausage roll

More than just a snappy logo, The Didsbury Village Farm Shop knows the value of a good sausage roll

bury Village Farm Shop and the cornerstones of civilisation – The Cheese Hamlet, Evans and our Co-Op. A Co-Op shadowed by M&S, Tesco and bespoke foodshops but still holding its own with queues reminiscent of a Greggs near an office block. Bless also our great parks, Fletcher Moss, The Didsbury and most of the staff in the Post Office.

2012 has been the year when School Lane has bred hairdressers and barbers. West Didsbury has opened niche and quirky shops and bars with one word titles and uncomfy seating to go with the innovative produce and no-one, not even at home, asked me to turn on the Christmas Lights. It has been a good year. Didsbury Festival, Didsbury Arts Festival and WestFest hit the spot and every shop in Lapwing Lane got chairs to welcome Metrolink commuters.

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But into every sunshine a little rain may fall. In 2012 we said goodbye to ome much loved Didsbury residents.

1. Linen – farewell to the Pixie like talents that dressed our children with aspiration and gave a credible last minute present not from a Newsagents

2. Rumpus is Dead. Long Live The Giddy Goat. It has been all change on Albert Hill Street but The Giddy Goat has gladdened our hearts and sadly brought Lego Star Wars to the centre of the village. One day it may replace Razma Reads.

3. La Tasca – the Spanish debt crisis reached Didsbury and the home of so many celebrations is now a Marie Celsteesque shell on the edge of the village.

and finally, with apologies to those not mentioned, farewell Felicini’s – much loved, much attended and much missed. If I want muddy crabs and battleship grey I will go to the seaside. I have tried to love the new Felicini’s Australian Inspired, New York Themed Didsbury based fusion but sadly not. Arrivederci old friend.

This used to be Felcini's

This used to be Felcini’s

Ho Ho Hola

Being away for Christmas is a big deal for the family. Christmas at home has its own rhythms and even though its not something I was brought up with as mine, I think it becomes part of your life whether you embrace it religiously, commercially, in the spirit of human bonhomie or whether you just relish an extra excuse to over indulge and kiss strangers under the flimsiest of contexts.

My lot (same God, different caterers) spread the indulgence through the year with a series of celebrations and a fast to combat the eating. All Jewish festivals boil down to three things; they tried to kill us, we didn’t get killed, let’s eat. As a partial outsider the British take on Christian festivals seems to split three ways. There are those who are religious, embrace the story behind the festival and its intent and balance indulgence and introspection. There are those who do not take up their personal relationship with religion but just in case use the festivals as an insurance policy. Then there are the huge rump of nominal Christians who like an excuse to drink egg nog hnand unwrap a present, all have their place.

I think the idea of a festival in the middle of winter, at the end of the year that brings people together is a good thing -whichever way you face to pray. The specifics of when he was born, whose festival it was originally and the level of commerciality is a petty distraction – it’s your choice and Didsbury Son told me the best Christmas gag I have heard for ages. What do you buy Jesus for Christmas? A t-shirt with “What Would I Do?” On the front. That’s the spirit.

So this year we have Christmas in swimming trunks on a hot, primarily Catholic island with a fairly even British / Scandinavian split. This could satisfy everyone in the family equally, Didsbury Wife can get her religious fix, Didsbury Son can go swimming and I have a chance of herring. This could work out well. My only other experience of Christmas abroad was in a different lifetime in The Dominican Republic; a place with so little to recommend it that getting searched at the airport was a highlight. Our Christmas ideas have evolved through Northern Europe and the faux firs with fake snow that dot the resort seem at odds with the regional rhythms of Christmas.

Didsbury Son has said he does not feel Christmassy. Although this triggered a guilt reaction It comes really from the personal expectation. Our Christmas progress involves the neighbours, the cards, checking the weather forecast, dashing around with cards, presents and kisses and queuing. Part of the fun of a Didsbury Christmas is the 7am queue outside The Cheese Hamlet, Evans and Axons the Butchers. The line of bleary eyed men dispatched to bring home Turkeys, exorbitant meats and the finest smelly cheeses is fraught at best. There is a murmured concern at mixing up sage with dill. Is sage real or is it the equivalent of the glass hammer list for a new recruit? Christmas in Didsbury involves the joy of watching the lunchtime Christmas Eve post-pub panic shop; a joy to sit back and sip a cappuccino whilst other men prepare to let down their partners ingloriously.

We fly home Christmas night to join the Boxing Day throng and see if we can transport our little Didsbury Bubble back from The Atlantic. So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and enjoy what you have. More Didsbury, Dadding and twins nonsense as soon as I have found the last Turkey in Tesco.

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Twin Guilt and The Curate’s Egg

I used to think that twin guilt meant I hadI used to think twin guilt meant I had snaffled both Bountys on the way back from the garage without offering Didsbury Son a nibble. Since becoming a dad of twins, twin guilt takes on new and expanding boundaries.

Didsbury Son, still a gift I can’t believe fell my way is having a Curate’s Egg of being a big brother so far. ( this is great. I promised someone over a literary based late night conversation I would find use for the phrases “Curate’s Egg”, “All you had to do was click your heels and think of Kansas” and ” In my day we had none of these fripperies “. One down and Kansas Fried Chicken is a given). On the upside, he loves the attention. Pushing newbie twins anywhere is like a call to coo for a wide variety of the population. He (and we) have never had so many compliments. Didsbury Son absorbs the reflected praise and a 5-minute stroll to the shops can now take half an hour and leave him an inch taller with his chest puffed out. People also love to smirk at us that ” Eeh, you have your hands full.” True, but not so full we can’t make hand gestures to people making banal or rude comments. There are also the presents. He has amassed quite a haul from family and friends keen to be even-handed and his Apple-infused Christmas present already has enough I -Tunes vouchers in his name to fill it with brightly coloured but quickly disappointing apps. I expect to only see the top of his head until March.

On the downside… The pitch of stereo crying in an enclosed space and the volume and length of time it proceeds at/for has been an unsettling shock. The dual cacophony can outstrip an average car alarm. Soon to be dads be warned – you cannot sit back for an hour on twin duty with Didsbury Son for some downloaded American cartoons. Despite the fact that if Lord Yipley the Churchill lookalike isn’t demanding attention, his sister will be, it’s too loud. Health and a safety would not let you work in this level of decibel without ear defenders but Didsbury Son and I still, with decreasing success, attempt to slouch couchwards. We haven’t managed more than an occasional Modern Family and he watches more and more sitting alone on a couch built for several as I smile meekly though muslin and milk, sterilising in a way that makes Howard Hughes seem like Stig o’ The Dump.

The main challenge for any big brother is going from sole trader and receiver of constant attention to team player with a house full of sleep-craving, narky, obsessed elsewhere adults. Whilst the upside is more freedom, less regimented teeth brushing and bedtimes, I think the downsides are numerous in the short-term. Whilst he is a doting and attentive big brother; proud, enraptured and willing; until the twins respond to raspberries, tickles and songs they seem to him a lot of effort that is light on return. It will come. but three months to a boy who lives in the moment is beyond. Comprehension.

He does not realise that this is like supporting a football team; it seems that no matter how much you prop them up, sing, throw all your money at them – they are not really bothered about you… Yet. At least we know that Didsbury Son’s real Christmas present will kick in around the start of spring when he is greeted like a returning hero every time he enters the room and the twins respond to every tickle, parp and clap with absolute delight.

As I pointed out to Didsbury Wife -if we had just got a puppy he would have had that from day one.

Sports Personality of the Year Goes South

What a rare year. If I had managed to win Sports Personality of the Year for the Headless Chicken dash around the Maternity Suite kissing anyone who moved in a 100 yard radius it would have capped it but Paul Weller deserved it.

Didsbury Son has ascended the plateau, smashed through the barrier and completed the first term at high school. The two little Didsburyites weighing less than a Christmas Turkey have turned our lives inside out and sleep deprivation has sent me so cross-eyed my eyes are straight again. What a fantastic year.

Didsbury Wife and I took the only option available. We smuggled Didsbury Son out of school the day before the cost of flights doubled and have headed south, far enough south to be guaranteed sun.
Today has been an hilarious and invigorating experience. Just as the joy of the whole delivery has (almost) blotted out the hormonal implications of pregnancy which you forget about over time, so today’s packaged trip has re-affirmed all that is good about Britain, anything all inclusive and just cutting off from your usual world. The chance to reconnect with the people who, although you love most, you split your time between shepherding, sniping at, being exasperated by and washing up after is a necessity. It can be tough being a Didsbury Dad; but not in a real way.

So… This much I have learned flying Thomson Holidays with 10 week old twins.
1. Never underestimate the balsamic infused good manners with which we have marinated our precious progeny. Didsbury Son carried his new sister on and off the plane, hung out with the pilot and made me look as though I had an approach to parenting rather than a reactive trigger.

2. If I had a pound for every troll who piped up “Double Trouble” as they invaded my personal space I could almost afford nursery fees next year.

3. Ask politely and ye shall receive. Didsbury Son, the new darling of the turquoise uniforms stretched out across 3 luxury seats. The twin Churchills were cooed over mercilessly leaving Didsbury Wife and I the opportunity to drain the duty free.

4. Everything looks better in sunshine, even me. Pushing a shrieking and shocked munchkin through the pool in swimming nappy and bizarre flippered ring I metamorphed into a Beckham like figure modelling 2004 trunks with panache and verve.

5. Drinking all day is great. But only whilst Didsbury Son’s attention span holds.

6. The further south you go the more strangers show an absolute delight in your babies that is genuine and makes you feel slightly disappointed in your cynicism. Whatever the Spanish is for “Double Trouble”, no one has used it.

7. Changing two nappies simultaneously in a plane toilet makes joining the mile high club seem like getting a kiss at a Christmas Party.

8. And most importantly. When your taken away from the grind of working through the winter in Britain I have time to see what makes Didsbury Son the first apple in my eye and how having two little beauties who absorb all the attention must be more daunting than a Christmas Eve queue at Axons and Evans.

Now, for what seems like the first time in eons, the room is quiet, there are 3 sets of chests moving rhythmically and dreaming and it’s time to catch up on all the conversations we haven’t had time for since the summer.

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My Christmas wish list has evolved since last year.

Religious Festivals and Competitive Parenting

** No actual research has gone into the facts expressed in this blog; they are a version only**

It goes back millennia. Chanukah, the festival of light. When the Jews took back the temple there was enough oil for one day. It takes eight to make the oil, the light lasted for eight days – bingo. Festival of Light, 8 days of Chanukah and Potato Latkes with Apple Sauce all round; Mazeltov.
Jesus upped the ante. Fish, loaves feast and then… 12 Days of Christmas and a Partridge in a Pear Tree (I don’t even know if Partridge is kosher). Which leads me on to the side issue of why you all get a glazed ham to celebrate the birth of someone Jewish, I never understood that.
Ramadan goes on for 29-30 days and this month the Mayan calendar crescendos on 2112 2112. Then its time for a spiritual take-off. The point of all this? There’s no need to show off.
Didsbury Son’s little victories are a joy to me and watching every cell develop on the twins as they move from inert to sentient is just wonderful… to me, Didsbury Wife and grandparents. It’s now 4am and as my little girl hovers between scream and sleep I am transfixed by every nuance. But I’m not sure I want to brag about it to friends and strangers. Her developing multi-dimensional ability to break wind whilst positing and grabbing a fistful of hair is impressive, but not worth it’s own series.
I heard of one acquaintance who brought out (without irony) their daughter’s report card to show dinner guests; unfair. Unless it describes her Jason Bournesque dealing with school bullies or her ability to down 40 Turkey Twizzlers at the school competitive eating championships who cares? It is lovely to be proud of your children / pets / Pokemon collection – but competitive parenting is dull. Duller than Muppets in Space which I am currently enduring with Didsbury Son whilst Little Lady Didsbury plays on a mat built for babies at least a month older than her. She is soooo clever.
I mustn’t brag, but my babies are amazing.
The boy with the roundest head in Didsbury can wake instantly from the deepest sleep the moment you even consider putting him near a Moses Basket. Little Miss Didsbury can scream at a pitch that would make Ella Fitzgerald blush and can time it for each sports update on the radio. Roundy head babe is able to stare past you in an eerie Sixth Sense style which at 3am is a little unsettling and baby girl can reduce me to mush with one look that could be wind or might be a smile for a Didsbury Dad.

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This tree in Didsbury Park is bigger than any other tree

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School Plays – A father’s story

Didsbury Son is in the school play. This means a week of tears and tantrums as he won’t let me give him direction or amend his script. Shakespeare – it was written for ad-lib, toilet gag and interpretation. I’ve been to the naughty step, but Didsbury Son’s thespian career throws me a dilemma.

The newest Didsbury Daughter prepares for a career on stage by staying asleep at a photo shoot.

The newest Didsbury Daughter prepares for a career on stage by staying asleep at a photo shoot.

For me, there are few things better than watching Didsbury Son on stage. His final junior school play was a romp. Aided by the fact that they had given up teaching in January and had to fill in from  9 and 3 until July (between ubiquitous theme days – see June blogs), it was lush and  Didsbury Son was brilliant. In Yiddish terms I schlepped nacchus and qvelled. In English, I was proud.
However, much more important than him being brilliant, he was on stage for 90% of the 80 minutes. This soothed my short attention span and meant I didn’t have to spend too long watching other Didsbury sons and daughters.
At a previous primary school the concerts were so bad I used to fantasise that the gushing Headmaster would bring out the music teacher and indict her for crimes against sound.
I am not precious about this. I don’t expect anyone else to be entranced by my little prince and I find it difficult to feign interest most of the time unless they are
A) really bad and I can tell jokes to Didsbury Son afterwards.
B) I’m a blood relative.
C) see A.
The lighting at the play wasn't really condusive to good photography

The lighting at the play wasn’t really condusive to good photography

So to Shakespeare for the under 15s
“All the world’s a stage but that doesn’t mean you should be on it”
“If music be the food of love this is as nourishing as One Direction playing in  McDonalds.”
“Soft you now, the fair Ophelia. Nymph, get the car started this is awful.”
So finding out that Didsbury Son is on stage 2 hours and 25 minutes in to this bardfest is a source of torture and its all my own failing. They are actually quite good and the costumes are worthy of more attention. However, after a day that began at 4am changing an explosion in a Moses Basket that could have seen it sink the original Moses. After a journeythat included enough time on the motorway to count lamposts, I can’t be alone in not wanting to sit on a school chair with acoustics designed under water waiting way past my new bedtime to see Didsbury Son  finally shine like a beacon whilst the audience is fretting about missing Masterchef.
What did we do in these situations before smartphones?
When school plays get too boring I retreat to a happy place.

When school plays get too boring I retreat to a happy place.

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