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 “June, 2013”

Father’s Day, a report card on your prowess

Father’s Day. Two words that can strike dread into the heart of many dads. It is a report card on how you’ve done since Christmas. The level of effort put in is a direct grading of your role as supporting artist in the great film of family life.
This is not about money spent or responding to the abysmal Americanisation and spreading over the weekend of what was always traditionally a card and a cuppa before normal service resumed.

I had a trawl through the mmm, detritus that is being passed off as a present for dad. I saw an advert for Canadian Maple flavoured ribs and beer. Fine, if you’ve never had Gavuscon or Oemeprozole but not for the other 99% of us literally a recipe for disaster. This and a thousand Top Gear / presents aimed at 10 year olds with more hair passed off as what the retailers decided we should stress over for Father’s Day; rubbish.

There is the same nuance and care needed in a Father’s Day as there is when responding to a question from partners beginning “I want you to be honest with me…” (NB you only fall for this once every six months)

We know a great sage once decreed that the perfect childhood for boys was to have a father until they were seven years old before taking over as pack leader and sending father back into the forest to forage.
Handwritten cards, something you secretly wanted, a hint taken or anything fried and you have an A*; with gradings all the way down to a Co-Op card and a picture of your children to remind you who they are.

I think I did okay. Definitely on the upside and had an easy weekend with a family that becomes more lively and interesting by the week.

Sunday began at 2am with teething terrors traumatising the Mighty-Headed boy and ended alone in a double bed with all baby duties suspended until 6am as I had a big day at work; the greatest act of selfless love in a bedroom that the mother of your children can give you.

Didsbury Son had a break from being short-changed of quality dad attention, spending a sleepover with friends and Didsbury Wife and I spent a chummy afternoon on the couch with the twins before I didn’t have to go to John Lewis.

I felt special. As we wheeled the twin Meerkats out for an early evening drink in a sun-dappled West Didsbury I felt relaxed and sure in the knowledge that the world was right and I was one inappropriate joke away from a Top Gear compilation.


Hands full, all three of them

Mid Festival Makeover

In the beginning there was Vidal Sassoon. He begat Ashley Brown and gave him to Didsbury and in the 80s he did bleacheth and dye my hair to the despair of my own Didsbury Dad.

Ashley Brown met John Yates and thry ploughed the fields with Sid the Barber and Chalky White and it was a prosperous time with less chains in the village and a parity on quirkyness with the then Not BOHo west.

Yeay there were enough Mullets for all to cut until the invasion of the hair cutters . Drawn by the soft water of South Manchester and the prodigious hair growth during Madchester and the 90s, hairdressers and barbers sprouted as regularly as the strands they cut. From Blade to Edward Scissorhands they took their inspiration from films and tax evasion. From Tyson design to Didsbury Barbers they outnumbered banks, Estate Agents, charity shops EVEN Coffee Shops until now there is a sign that leads you into Didsbury from the A34 that reads…
“Welcome to Didsbury: You Don’t Have to Have Hair to Live Here – But it Helps”

All Change: with Didsbury Arts and CavFest on their way M20 is awash with rebuilding. Aldi shuts for 3 days next week to prep its big re-launch. My tip, change the name to “Almost M&S”. Their new slogan “Vorsprung Durch Pricecutting” is almost as familiar as their Norpak butter. Loungers is taking shape. Delia’s is still waiting to sell its first Bathbomb and Cibo was just the Trojan Horse – we’ve gone tapas crazy.
You can get Nepalese Tapas on Burton Road and as we bid farewell to Turkish/Istanbul/why did you turn the best takeaway in the village into a huge overpriced, unused restaurant Grill – we are about to sample Nido, Spanish & Mexican Tapas.
If the Mud Crab disappointment is an indicator of how not to do fusion we are not in for a treat and I’m heading to The Alpine Cafe in Fletcher Moss for a decent tea and cake.

Didsbury Festival – The Final Countdown

The camp fires are being dowsed and there is a heart-shaped, flower-strewn, luvved-up vibe in Didsbury. CavFest, WestFest, Chorlton the gauntlet is down. Didsbury Festival rides into the sunset with a cleared park and bleary eyes.

The stroll back through post-festival Didsbury was fascinating. The Chinese Crested dogs won my heart. Outside The Crown a man in a grey vest is trying to offer free hugs to passers by, egged on by afternoon beer friends. The response veers from amused and occasionally enthusiastic to scared or dismissive.

The sun and the stalls have brought out the greatest variety of style and middle aged man squeezed into Blue Harbour shorts since last year. Pasty legs and horizontal stripes are the male uniform of choice. Didsbury still hosts a colony of Goths. Not sure if they are Emperor or Gentu but they shuffled in a miserable, sweaty and pale pack before going to be ironic elsewhere.

Now it feels like Didsbury needs a nap. Didsbury Son is slumped on the couch with the Mighty Headed twin staring at him adoringly. My take on his pre-teen Development is dwarfed by the adoration of his baby brother and sister. He is sugar, E number and Climbing Walled out. In many ways this has been his greatest festival ever. Friends, food and attitude – the perfect festival experience.

Didsbury Son releases the Official Didsbury Eyecare balloon to signal that 2014 Didsbury Festival will be back and exactly the same next year.

The Holt Pavillion. Didsbury Lounge in the Park

This much I know. Coming out without the changing bag, whatever the shortness of your escapade is tantamount to daring your baby to fill their nappy.

Hence I am sitting in the Holt Pavillion, Didsbury’s newest caffe in the park, with a mug of tea and the pearl-headed girl. Didsbury Wife is stretching nose and tricep popping back to change Mighty-Headed boy who took the challenge and won.

The New Holt Pavillion is lovely but this is no Arabaca threat to the Nero, Costa or the independents in the village. This is a £1 cup of tea in support of an Elderly Community Project. It’s lovely but I am hankering after a flat white. Mmmmmmm overpriced coffee in huge cups.

The sun is still shining, the guy with the microphone is still Stephen Fry without wit; Amongst other oratorical failings and the champion Didsbury Dog is marking its territory.

A good year for the festival, the Didsbury Traders and the groups of polite pre-teenagers lurking aimlessly in the corners of the park.

Pram Jams in Didsbury Park

I decided to try and blog live from the year’s Didsbury Festival. So far I’ve patted 31 dogs, seen ex friends, hairdressers and made a couple of new ones. I’ve had weak tea, overpriced cake, been a bit sticky and enjoyed the bonhomie.

The problem with blogging live at Didsbury Festival is that its beauty is its repetition. Each year is like the last. The parade is a chance to wave to neighbours, the host in the park is excruciatingly naff, the dog show is fantastic and the best food is home-cooked curry.

The experience adapts to the age of child you are with and the size of crowd is dictated by the weather but it is as much fun each year. I love it. Didsbury Wife and son love it and the twins have had a shoulder high, stranger cuddling, sunscreen of a day.

The pram jam on Gilbrook Road was a lovely way for the Ice Cream van to cover M20’s babies in exhaust fumes but we are back for a change, feed and drink before we head back for round 2



Dog Day afternoon

In a scene straight from Caligula it was obedience this, sniff that, sit, speigh and lie down as the Dog Show reached a crescendo. A dozen different Freyas and Archies cried into the groomed necks of their springers as the winners strutted through.

The Brichon has 3rd , the hairy brown one 2nd and honestly. No 69, a Chocolate Lab wins.

Just the grand final to go.

Didsbury Festival Live & Direct from the cake stall

The Parade has passed. They say you never forget your first festival but at 8 months, it may be a festival remembered digitally for the twins. It straggled its way hopefully down Wilmslow Road as though we had been invaded and told only take Boden and White Company with them.

I missed the Belly Dancers this year, Madame Whatever’s hopeful forty something’s usually make the day but this year… We were usurped.

There they were at the front of the parade THE TRIPLETS. Sitting there, cutely looking beautiful whilst all adults eyed looked on in awe at the parents. A running joke with Didsbury Son is to see a single pram, look at each other and mouth “easy”, but triplets, you need faith and more.

The Cat Protection League have won best stall. The cakes are tasty but phenomenally priced and its half an hour to the dog show…

We’ve just been door stepped by Didsbury Arts Festival. If it kicks off I’ll let you know.


Dads – Know Your Place

Being a dad is not always a natural and easy job. Raising children for us is a series of incidents. Some of these are life-affirming wonderful moments such as that first skin-to-skin, the first time they make their own breakfast and the first time you realise they are all asleep and you can have a cup of tea and stroke the cat in peace.

Some stretch you more than you can imagine. That school concert that clashes with an advert you’ve only seen once or the quick thinking strategy required when a nappy has burst like a dam in a storm and the wipes are just out of reach. As babies grow to children women have three basic advantages over men. First, with regard to child rearing they are innately better at pretty much every aspect. Kids may love their dads but they need their mums and from everything beginning with why a gripe at 3am needs a bottle to why the vagueness of a year 7 memory should be ignored on an exam day I, and most dads know their place.

Secondly, in a greater percentage of women is that maternal gene for reproduction that men are often unable to comprehend. Once we join the club it makes sense but it seems a bit like talking about a PHD when you are doing your GCSEs.

The third axis of maternal is the ability to forget. Once Didsbury Son (lovely, easy-going, barely a tantrum) cranked through the gears of childhood I spent many hours watching, remembering and cringing as my own see-through childhood bleating and blagging was laid out before me. I finally appreciated just how patient my own Didsbury mum and dad really were. Didsbury Son is hampered by my memory of being his own age and knowing there would always be more mileage in going to my mum. The cycle plays on.

If the women ever learn to teach and enjoy pull my finger / burp on demand or see the unending comedy in wearing pants on your head we may as well head for our own Jurassic Park.

Having twin babies is a little like being in a soap storyline. You miss a week of Corrie or Eastenders and when you switch back on the story has moved along so quickly you spend the episode thinking how? When? What? Really? I am back from 5 days away in a port city with no decent coffee shops but an accent that made me feel I was an extra in The Archers, my lovely. The change is ferocious. My mighty headed baby boy has two teeth coming through and enough hair to have bed head syndrome when he wakes up. On Skype they sat upright on the bed eagerly chewing toys, but this morning their independence in sitting, rise in appetite and the pearl-headed girl’s insistence that the morning baby porridge be low-carb were a frightening vision forward.

From Midday… Live blogging from The Didsbury Festival and tweeting from @didsburydadblog
Please join in the carnival as I try and find a quiet corner on my own

The Jumparoo, preparing for the 2028 Olympics.

Return of the Mooch

One of my greatest joys in life over the years has been my Saturday morning mooch with Didsbury Son. This meander down the old railway line in search of a Tesco sausage with my little blondini squeaking life’s joy next to me was a little slice of heaven.

Metrolink Mania, which is still sweeping Didsbury with rash tales of Breakfast in Rochdale has unwittingly returned this to me.

Didsbury Son has caught a large dose of Metro Fever – tempted by names such as Pomona and Exchange Quay. It is shiny, new and it offers the opportunity to eat a Subway in a bewildering range of locations. The carrot is that we will walk the twins until they are asleep, then get the Metro back to Didsbury. It is simple, not expensive and we all get some fresh air and exercise.

One half term morning we assembled – a buggy with two domes, one pearl, one massive. They now sit forward in the trolley scanning Didsbury like the google street car. My bold-headed boy a meerkat whilst his pearl-bonced sister smiles regally as the world rolls by slowly.

As we left Camp Didsbury Village a lovely change occurred. Although now without squeaky voice and that lovely lack of self-awareness that makes pre nine year olds so open – he was back.

Didsbury Son jabbered endlessly and actually took in my dad jokes and dull tales as we pushed our wide-eyed cargo through Manchester’s Olive Oil district. By Fog Lane, Didsbury Son had hold of my hand and as we pulled into Fusion Deli on Lapwing Lane for a bagel I had one hand-holding and two chirruping children and felt 10 feet tall.

The babies sang, so we walked to Burton Road and I told him all about The Metropolitan being The Midland and the legendary MVITA nights. I felt the joint aches diminish as we strolled.

We ventured even further west. When my boy asked what about the prison-like development at Didsbury Point (possibly the only part of M20 Estate Agents will not own up to) our bond was re-sealed and our mooching time back. It used to be Withington Hospital now its an eyesore.

I can’t wait to start doing this with both hands held.

This Much I know:
1. Money, fame, smaller clothes sizes – none of them are as big a motivation as a snooze when you have twins.

2. The last few months have increased my understanding of body issues exponentially, every joint hurts.

3. You can try. You can plan. But an eight-month old baby in a walker has a reach like a JCB digger.

4. When you have babies, for no real reason you sing everything. My full repertoire of football songs has been re-assembled without swear words for every act during the day.

5. At 7am in Didsbury Village, Cappucino in Didsbury Deli with froth to share is a little haven.

6. I love and hate Boots with a passion.

7. The Metrolink is best chain to open in Didsbury

Next week: Didsbury Festival is back…



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