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 “April, 2013”

Didsbury, spring and full of frolicing

My footsteps took me down to the seedy side of town. This being Didsbury it was the caraway and pumpkin seedy side of town. It’s spring. 5am dawns and much chirruping from the baby boy with the big round head and his pearly-crowned sister with the open mouth smile. 8.30 sunsets herald the thankful end of this house’s Cartoon Network viewing and Didsbury has its spring coat on.

The Mighty-Headed twin baby boy looks across his empire

The Mighty-Headed twin baby boy looks across his empire

One thing I love about walking a pram around is watching the year and shops change. Whilst I am still coming to terms with Bath Bombs surviving the demise of Elm Interiors to limp malodorously over to the magnificent Delia’s there is hope.

Let's be honest - it may not actually say "we stocked bath bombs it's our fault" but...

Let’s be honest – it may not actually say “we stocked bath bombs it’s our fault” but…

Gourmet Burger King has something to smile about. There is still a 1:1 ratio between the staff and diners most days, but in addition to saving on cleaning costs they are no longer the emptiest chain in the village. Come on down Holland Barratt. Healthy Spirit has slayed you (in a crystal healing, hands-off, organic and spiritual way). The staff of H&B (look at me using slang) look forlornly out from their empty shop like the last table at a car boot sale. I have been past a dozen times and the only person I have ever seen inside was Didsbury Wife, when I had arranged to meet there to see once and for all what the ginger wine tastes like; people must be buying their pre-packed healthy high salt snacks elsewhere.
When we walked past this morning H& was deluged with a customer who had mistakenly popped in for a haircut

When we walked past this morning H&B was deluged with a customer who had mistakenly popped in for a haircut

There is news. News as surprising as waking up to find day has once again followed night. A new hairdresser is opening up in the village. The carcass of The Didsbury Village Farm Shop is being transformed into Toni & Guy. A hairdresser. In Didsbury. This is brilliant. We haven’t had a new hairdresser open in M20 for weeks. If they’ll do eyebrows wholesale I’m in.
Around the corner Nest has taken the Pixie/Linen space and put the chic next to the awesome toy choice of Giddy Goat. If you could just get a pram into the Giddy it would be bang on.
Nest is a lovely, classy, drape strewn, comfy front room of a shop. I have no idea what, if anything Nest sells but it looks and is a haven in the village where lack of pram access is a bonus.
It could be exciting. A new bar with a working title of Loungers is bidding for a licence in the centre of the village and with a triple-dip recession coming some time this year the Aldi extension cannot come quickly enough for the sell-by sticker savvy Didsbury locals.
Finally in the village, the People’s Republic of Cibo taking shape. Venice in the Village is a St. Marks Square away from finishing and when it opens I expect Cibo to invade Gourmet Burger King, who will have room for everyone.
With a specially-built canal around the outside, the Venetian influence in Didsbury is stronger than ever...

With a specially-built canal around the outside, the Venetian influence in Didsbury is stronger than ever…

As I have sailed past 39 and a bit, then a bit more. This much I know

Many of my contemporaries are having a combination of mid-life crisis and mentality stasis. This smacks of an admission that you got it wrong In your late teenage/early twenties. Be warned – a middle-aged goattee is only a short step in your Crocs from a male-patterned baldness topped ponytail.

Change in outlook is essential development; physically, emotionally, mentally – every way. If you haven’t changed since the 80s you are actually your family pet.

These contemporaries seem keen to prove they want to party like they did when smoking was an popular indoor pursuit, with people born post-Thatcher. They can, except now they need a week off afterwards and a night on the tiles means an Ibuprofen gel rub.Why this need to hang out with today’s youth, to be independent, be individual? It misses the point, like telling people you are cool or why a joke is funny.

If you think back through the mists of time to youthdom, remember the adults who talked about the 60s or the tragic “mature” student who in week 1 seemed worldy wise and by Week 4 was slightly creepy? That is us at 2 in the morning, feigning interest in the next generation as they BBM, Bump and Virtual each other whilst we look on with aching joints.

I still enjoy many of the same stimuli; but I am the Gold station demographic. If teenagers want to join in they are welcome. I can no longer be bothered being out every night or travelling through the night to Ipswich for a minor cup game. I am glad I have done it and can tick it off to remember at my leisure.

At 20 I had no responsibility. I could be marvellously outraged, avant and selfish. This was my right. I am no longer the centre of my own world and it’s fine because I have walked, danced and talked rubbish through the arrogance and myopia of youth. I care about less things, but I care more deeply and with a sense of realism. Having fun doesn’t age – posting it online does.

I still believe in the beauty of the human spirit and the power to change for better on a personal and global basis (I’ve always been an optimist) but it is tempered with a couple of decades of failure, success, love, heartbreak and the realities of money.

In London I enjoyed walking through the West End at night. Soho, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Chinatown are great places, full of life and human diversity. Vibrant, but I have no desire to be the teenagers I see in excited groups posing, preening, smoking and hoping. Their perfect hair and muffin topless waistbands are great to see. The air crackles with a hundred languages and hustlers shuffle next to big nights and trips that will be remembered and chatted about when these teenagers are Didsbury, Rome and Beijing Dads. It is theirs to grasp.

I now look at this and think of the fun I will have bringing Didsbury Son here and seeing his love of the neon, the comic shops, the smell of Chinatown and the naughtiness of Soho. I look forward to taking him through Soho Square and the warren around it. I can jabber on about working here and he can pay no attention – transfixed by such easy access to Subway and Caffe Nero.

I mentally weigh up the pavements and curbs for a double buggy. Soho, tricky, Piazzas are the new nightclubs when you have babies. I scan the surroundings for potential baby changing facilities and mentally make note of every chemist. It’s a new world for me and in its own way as enticing as the old one – just different.

Age and not worrying about everybody’s opinion brings a sense of freedom. I can genuinely have a night on my own terms. I don’t have the peer pressure, fear of ridicule and worrying if my winklepickers are sharp enough. I already know what my peers think, understand my own ridiculousness and wear insoles for my back- that’s what winklepickers will do for you. I strolled, stopped for a drink and a fleeting friendly conversation with a stranger without swapping Facebook or twitter likes. Then I mooched back to my hotel cell happy.

As an after thought; s Starbucks’ desire to write your name on your cup and hail you like a friend the most unintentionally entertaining retail department since “Suits You” on The FastShow? I have had more fun spelling Didsbury Son’s Pokemon characters in excruciating detail to the Stepfordly cheerful staff who can text 100 words a minute but cannot write Snorlax or Monferno without sitting down for a rest. It is not big, not clever and it certainly does not befit a Didsbury Dad – but it is fun.

London – it’s not quite Didsbury

I feel a sense of irony that I live in the world’s barber and hairdresser capital yet have been so busy recently my hair has applied for its own postcode. This is fine for those 20 somethings that are the NBFs (or whatever the term is) that I hang out near at Didsbury Lounge, (I was in last week, had an awful dawning that I was the only 39 plus a lot year old in there and popped a Wellman vitamin immediately) but at my age can be iffy. Not only does it give twin babies more to grab onto but it brings with it two thorny issues.

Last week, one early ish morning I was trying to instil something vital into Didsbury Son’s long-term memory. It may have been the day the bins go out, the importance of planning for a shed of his own with wi-fi or something equally educational. I was scuppered mid-flow by him stopping me to tell me he couldn’t take me seriously as I had hair like Krusty the Clown; he was right. My other issue is that hair now grows around and from my head rather than just on it.

Women may have their beauty secrets but men’s haircuts after the age of 30 involve a tacit nod and the understanding that the clippers will do the gardening and tidy up the edges and entrances that you can’t see when shaving. This morning I considered my eyebrows and their aspirational upward mobility and thought most companies would kill for growth like that.

I am now back from my latest jaunt and felt it would have been disloyal to even consider a haircut away from School Lane’s Clipper Mile. When you have Pick’n’Mix at home why buy sweets at Tesco? Blade’s wet shave, John’s Gentry grooming and the Didsbury Barbers know where to clip and not to talk once I get into a trance and you can’t buy that ease and acknowledgement.

On my last night I strolled back to a hotel with a floor plan based on Strangeways through London’s theatre land, Chinatown and Covent Garden. For tourists and teenagers with fashionable haircuts I recognise from the mid 80s this is fine. It is vibrant, mult-coloured and busy. But to me it lacks the AiryFairy, Alpine Cafe, Fusion Deli, Evanesque charm of Didsbury. There is no guessing what 15th century Italian city state inspired the new restaurants, no playing count the empty tables or spot the customer at Gourmet Burger King and not even the disappointment of the late Elm’s unloved Bath Bombs taking residence in Delia’s florist stems the love of home. None of the bright lights could mask the fact that it may be the centre of the capital – but you can’t find a decent barbers.


A London street. No barbers to be seen

No More Mr Rock n Roll

A week is a long time in the life of a butterfly; but the last week away from Didsbury and the milky-stained bosom of my expanded family has seemed like an age.
On the face of it all I should have been in Didsbury Dad heaven. A week away from all night soother chasing, school holidays and sciatica in a gilded city with a hotel and expenses. (I have been away on a creative media promotional multi-platform content driven job. Or whatever it is I  do for a living.) It went well and bonds, collaborations and possibly a few grudges were formed. But  as the end of the last day drew near I could feel the impatience to be home becoming unbearable.

My hotel rider no longer asks for Jack Daniels and Vodka. I never actually drank Jack Daniels but I felt I should ask for it.

My hotel rider no longer asks for Jack Daniels and Vodka. I never actually drank Jack Daniels but I felt I should ask for it.

I was the mirrored reverse of Didsbury Son’s back-to-school blues. I could feel it in the back of my knees; that aching push that seems to make you want to run or buckle – 21st Century fight or flight. That desire to run home tempered by contractual obligations.
Seven days without Burton Road, counting new barber shops and chewing the fat at Fusion Deli is a long tack but then it hit me. I am a changed person. The opportunity to stay out late, eat out of cardboard and talk rubbish to strangers has diminished to an atom sized nothing.

I missed Didsbury Son’s endless re-telling of American cartoons and playground mis-information; the cusped enthusiasm / indifference of my pre-teen babe. I missed the dream-interrupting nudges from Didsbury Wife  indicating my turn to attempt night-time serenity in the nursery. The morning Skype calls with four smiley faces reminded me who I could be having breakfast with in a last question wrong on a quiz show type of cruelty.

Back home this morning after my stint of changing, bottle-feed and play with the largest 6 month old head and his smiley sister I realised what I missed most; breakfast. This all-you-can-wear  porridge and chopped banana fiesta is better than any custard pie fight I have witnessed. It’s combination of surreal, physical and whimsical comedy is the perfect start to any day.

It all became clear to me - a representation

It all became clear to me – a representation

I  am back off for another short stint soon; this time in a bigger city with better room service. Let’s see if this trip has anything to match the Tiswas-esque breakfast experience that hands-down beats a king size, room-service and a peaceful night.



Tiswas “The Bucket of Water Song” a blueprint for family living

A quick thought about sayings…

My own Didsbury Mum is a twin. Her Didsbury Dad was a great man of fantastic statements from a black and white world. His assertions, even into the early 90s of the century his life nearly spanned that “if the world was round and spinning we would all fall off.” “Black coffee, look at it. It’ll kill you.” “Feel that tree, that’s where you get your power from.” And “Life’s hard but it’s better than the alternative” we’re legend in our family. He was a tree hugging, barely-drinking, vegetarian way ahead of his time. Now, one of his sayings keeps coming back to me.

The Mighty-Headed Boy  and his Didsbury Dad contemplate The Ancient Mariner and Timmy Time

The Mighty-Headed Boy and his Didsbury Dad contemplate The Ancient Mariner and Timmy Time

“Twins, it’s wonderful but can you have them one at a time?” I liked this for its lack of knee-jerk laziness. We are still deluged with “double trouble” and “You’ve got your hands full” from personal-space invading strangers in the street. But Didsbury Great Grandpa hit the joy and the issue on the head.

Each twin is individually gorgeous, different in personality and a person in their own right. However, imagining the Mighty-Head Boy without his Pearl-shaped sister is already unimaginable. When they sit there holding hands in their cot, Didsbury baby girl looks on him with such kindness and love that having them separately would be to spoil the hundred moments everyday that we couldn’t get from a single baby experience. They also compensate for the double pain, double expense and half sleep that twins bring with them.

Courtesy of www.thatcutesite,com  Go on then - walk up to the mother and say "Double Trouble"

Courtesy of http://www.thatcutesite,com Go on then – walk up to the mother and say “Double Trouble”

A sound to make a parent quiver.

We have walked up the Acropolis at midday. We have driven France end to end in one go and I have braved the “wrong end” at a Local Derby. This week we have taken the spirit of adventure and the power of Northern stubbornness and pushed that envelope one letterbox farther than even we thought possible.

This week we have had all 5 of the Didsbury Family sharing a tin can in Wales. What better way to relax away the stress of life than the bright sunshine and occasional above freezing temperatures that Wales offers at this time of year?

For me there is little to beat the glamour of needing your glasses on as you tramp across gravel in your pyjamas to use a Siberian toilet, to ensure you fill your kettle from the tap marked “drinking water”, not “grey waste”. What is grey waste? I thought he was one of Ben 10’s incarnation or a euphemism for getting a job at B&Q.

Anyway, as Didsbury Wife and I lay shivering with the blistering light and insipid heat of a Halogen heater casting a neon shadow across our van we counted our blessings.

Didsbury Son lay cocooned on what had been the master bed – warm and with room to move. The Mighty-Headed boy and the pearl-delicate girl lay between Didsbury Wife and I whilst we perched on the edge of the Transformer Sofa. He was calm having been fed and top-to-toe changed at 3am and she snuffled, too small for the cold that had wrapped itself up in her. We counted blessings for a bit then got bored and thought it would be much more fun to share a sneaky 4am snipe about the non-advertised, worst bits of babies per se and twins particularly.

After sharing the joint pain of permanent lift/shift/soothe/rock x 2, the unfeasible level of Boots points accrued in 6 months, the lack of clothes without milky sick patterns, the inability to hold a coherent conversation or stay awake without the prompt of screwming after 9pm we hit upon it. The worst sound in the world. A small, almost innocuous sound that strikes fear into parents and can lead a grown man to tears in the middle of the night. It is not a sound that emanates from any part of a baby. It is not White Noise, high frequency or loud. It can best be described as a “put”. A quiet “put” which tells you that the soother (dummy – Didsbury Son thought dummies were Chavvi so we don’t have them – we have “soothers” that are dummy shaped) has hit the sheet.
This little noise means your baby (ies) is/are about to wake up and you are not going back to sleep.

That little pop from beautiful mouth to sheet means you are about to contort your wrists to arthritis trying to find the soft wet bit of your baby’s face to put it back in and somehow keep it there. It can “put” dozens of times before one of you gives in. It is the tiny sound to stop you in your tracks as you try and quietly sneak out of a nursery. That 3 inches drop strikes terror into me that a nappy explosion encompassing full body changing gets nowhere near. It is the sound of your night disappearing, your tea going cold or your beer going flat. It is the sound of your partner being asleep before you get to bed. It is the sound of your next day at work going awry.
Oh how we laughed as we “putted”. Sadly, we laughed too loud and woke up the twins.


Minecraft. More interesting than Ben 10.

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