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, 2013”

Boddlers – the hot new trend for 2014

2013, the magazines’ review of the year on Sunday was a depressing litany of global, regional and personal misery. Same pictures, different year. Not one mentioned the tragedy of Nido. In the few months it wheezed lifelessly in Didsbury Village, haemorrhaging cash at such a rate they may as well have offered free food and a Twenty to anyone who braved the restaurant formerly known as a successful kebab shop. Cameron – J’Accuse ( for no specific reason – just can’t trust someone who has no clear bone structure and admits to being a friend of George Osborne).

I have learned a lot this year. Mainly that you need your personal bubble away from the depressing interference of devices and reality. Mine is in Didsbury, surrounded by Didsbury Wife and my three wishes. Here is my précis.

1. Wording is vital with Didsbury Son. He is year 8, sliding inconsistently into teenage years and still as lovely as his 6 year old self ( most of the time). However, the combination of made up facts, half listened to and less than half understood rationale in most descriptions is almost worthy of its own exclamation mark *

* I have a personal mistrust of exclamation marks and find their use offensive.

2. I have become soppier than I ever imagined. I am now the softest touch ever for any story or charity. My donation to Middle-Class Children Without a PS4 was from the heart; I fill up every time Didsbury Wife dresses the twins in my club ‘s colours and I even noticed a tilty -headed smile at a newborn last week. It needs to be checked.

3. There is a sound worse than than the “pop’ of a dummy falling out of mouth into the dark. It is the sound of the Pearl-Headed girl when at 5am and she has woken. In stultified moves you have cooed, hummed and rocked. You hear breathing slow and feel moving still and then… Just as you relax into a dreamless, but essential hour’s sleep you hear “Hiya”. It snakes out of the darkness, heralding a further bout of hand-holding, soother moving, humming and rocking more draining than a Big Bang Theoryathon

3. Two charging boddlers** means Cafe Rouge is once again the retreat of choice as Cafe Nero’s spacious baby change, free babychinos and lovely staff are superseded by Rouge’s boddler friendly roominess and toy stash; although the bebechino is 50p

** the crossover between baby and toddler

4. There is nothing like a dame.

5. Didsbury Son’s knowledge of how to work anything with a screen now outstrips mine to such an extent I keep wanting to show him how a video recorder works.

6, Hipp Organics Vegetable Lasagne and Ravioli are perfect hangover cures or a watching the match snack.

7. The best way to alleviate the crushing tiredness is to have one baby on each knee and play ” this little piggy”. It’s cheaper than Red Bull and doesn’t have the aftertaste.

8. If you have shares in Boots you owe me a thank you at the very least. If you have shares in Co-Op you’ve been had.

9. I have lost the TV. It moves seamlessly from CBeebies to Star Wars / E4 American Sitcom. I know my place.

10. I am very lucky to be a Didsbury Dad.

Happy New to you all and may 2014 bring you health, happiness and if you desire it, wealth

Iggle Piggle v Homeland and Utopia

This much I know. In The Night Garden is possibly the finest television I have seen this year; edging out Homeland’s multi-story pile up and the beautiful crafting and colouring of Utopia by a short Nonk.
Derek Jacobi’s VoiceOver is worthy of forgiveness for that thing he shares with Gandalf on ITV, where Frances de la Tour plays a female, middle-class Keith Lemon.
ITNG, a flagship show on the mighty CBeebies could go prime time. If the unfathomable Deal or No Deal ( the whole open a box is Key Stage 1 motor control) is an 8pm show then why not “At Home with the Pontypines”. 8 kids, living next door to their twins who also have 8 kids – more enticing than Celebrity Big Brother and genuinely mind-bending.
How about a Top Gear Special on Ninky Nonk v Pinky Ponk? We are a Ninky family but there is something about the Pinky Ponk’s wheezing beauty that draws you in. I was granted access to the cast to find out their take on being part of this QI for the pre-lingual.

Part. 1:
Iggle Piggle in his own words. Iggle rarely gives interviews and is known offscreen for his thoughtful poetry and landscape watercolours.

“Once the blankey comes down, the light goes on and the music starts you have a lot of time on your own to think. It’s just you and a rolling sea. There’s no one running circles around my palms and until I get through the hedge it’s a lonely journey. The guys are great and I think I could sail there in my sleep, but… Sometimes not even a smile and a kiss from Upsy Daisy can make up for that commute. Me? I know one day it will end. Only Postman Pat and Bob the Builder seem to go on forever and they have a trade. Glee are interested in a spin-off of the Blankey dance but they think Sky Blue’s a weak colour so we are in discussion. I’m not bleaching for anyone.

The best thing? Good question. I don’t think you ever get over being a role model for the Holophrastic Babblers. It’s a gift.

The Night Before, The Night Before Christmas

It was the night before the night before Christmas and all through the house nothing was stirring not even my spouse.

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 The cats, they were snoring with something that would pass;  Because… it was the night before the night before, not the night before Christmas. (Shakespeare)

Christmas fever has hit M20. Didsbury Son has realised that pre-teen moodswinging is assuaged with treats, the promise of treats and apt jokes at proper times. The Tao of Didsbury decrees a list of treats to try in our sleepy little Cheese Hamlet. You discover Appleby’s is not only a) run by a schoolboy whose genuine hardworking and enthusiasm override any order-taking issues and b) the vegetarian breakfast with a Sunday paper lifted from a bizarre wall display is great and the place is lively, has outlived Nido and hopefully has a rosy future. The bizarre solicitor on School Lane is now a music shop. I once went in there with a serious issue. The solicitor, straight from the 50s told me to “shape up and pull myself together”. I have not been back – but I did join a gym.

 I love Didsbury this time of year. If you want to catch anyone you have not seen for ages go to the Post Office. The queue snakes aimlessly and the combination of prams, nervous teenagers emitting body odours in confined spaces and grumbling pensioners is a heady mix. Once you get to the counter it’s pot luck. Will it be the safe hands of Siobhan helping you through, or will it be the officious Derek scowling at your poor packing and offering to sell you a line of cellotape. By midday the stress hangs over the waiting line like a damp cloud and the murmured groans are not-to-be forgotten.

 Saints  & Scholars is essential at this time of year – like The Nelson, The Crown and The Dog the menu, staff, banter and clientele never change. There is no branded coffee machine, its 1996 every time you go in and it’s a refreshing change.

 Here is a last minute guide for those hamstrung by time and budget.

Hail the Giddy Goat. I have sneaked in the twins separately and they have gurgled with delight. I have asked for help and it has resulted in presents far more suitable than I could have ever achieved. I have looked longingly across Albert Hill Street from the Post Office queue to its wonderland and even through the eyes of a 30+10+something it is a little slice of local heaven.

A repeat of my Giddy Goat poor joke

A repeat of my Giddy Goat poor joke

 Talking of little slices of heaven – there is still nothing that beats a pit stop at The AiryFairy CupCake boutique, whether solo, or familied up for a cake that tastes as though it was made, not designed

 Turkeys. The choice is superb. Evans has Copperas Farm bred Anglo-Saxon Turkeys that can trace their lineage back to William The Conqueror; Marks & Spencer’s have a degree in Social Sciences from Loughborough to discuss the best way to pluck and cook and come with a guide to post-Nigella, lineless cooking… and Aldi, bless them. Turkeys at a price so low that they must have been reared in a Fiat 500 and air-dried out of the window – all within 100 metres.
Moretons on Warburton is a perfect throwback. A throwback to the tactile joy of bookshops pre-Amazon. You can touch, feel, plan, but not really afford as many as you can on Amazon – but it’s an experience
Harriet & Dee next door is another favourite. I am never sure what they sell, or why – but they have a combination of ShopCat Laura, friendly staff, a little feel of Harvey Nicks and know what to tell you to buy for all the people and occasions that baffle a Y chromosome.


The queue for Christmas special at Gourmet Burger Kitchen

All this and a Nero with room for a double buggy in the baby change. Sometimes I count my fortune, because counting my change is a short and pointless experience.

Last minute essentials for Christmas

Last minute essentials for Christmas


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”


Early Morning Muse

It’s 6am. I am perching on the edge of a single bed, parked next to two empty cots. I realise that the sleeping configurations with twins make the seat configuration of a Vauxhall Zafira look like a moped. The Mighty-Headed boy has usurped me and nabbed my side of the bed – currently wrapped around a concerned Didsbury Wife as he snuffles through the night; a scent somewhere between baking croissants and hay rolling off him.

The pearl-topped Princess is sprawled, finally calm. Her right fist is still gripping my shoulder and that touch alone makes lying awake, uncomfy and cold worth it.
If Didsbury Son, with whom I shared a 5.15 chat amid stereo crying as I trotted inelegantly down for milk could pop out to one of our many Costa Expresses and magic up an AiryFairy treat – this would be as near perfect as a Persian Carpet*.
Half an hour and the alarm will go, heralding a charge through changing, feeding, charging around and tea shlurping whose poetic chaos will be repeated in millions of homes. Across the world Didsbury Dads will think of their brood with one single thought. Can I get a kip on the way to work?


*Persian Carpets were always made with an intentional fault because only God could be perfect…

Bittersweet Memory; insert your own

Firsts, lasts, births, deaths , wedding days, first ever Mojito in Miami. One of the joys and sometimes sadnesses of being old enough to wave back at your 30s is that more of those 365 days have a significance.
This has been in my head since Nelson Mandela died on Thursday night. I will recall the date and where I was effortlessly, as I can the death of Princess Diana and the previous generation the moon landings and the assassination of Kennedy. These globally momentous occasions are always joined by personal minutiae. My friend whose birthday is September 11th has had to put up with playing 2nd fiddle for years. Mention the date of Diana’s death and it evokes a thousand personal memories and I remember a particularly good away win the day before; bonfire night, my godmother died.
Everyone has their own version of these dates. When I see dates that match the birthdays of Didsbury Son or the tanklings I get a pointless, but lovely little boost.
In our family today’s date is a bitter-sweet one. It’s a lovely niece’s birthday, the anniversary of another life starting many years ago that now seems as though it is somebody else’s and on this day in 2010 the Japanese sail-powered space craft IKAROS passed within 80000 miles of Venus. What’s not to celebrate?
Today is also a landmark birthday for a close cousin who died four years ago of the disease he had spent his adult life treating people; each family has their loved one – no less painful for the circumstance.
All the usual cliches apply and although for us, today always has the edge of regret, it will be the greatest day ever for someone else and neither I, nor them will forget the humanity behind the calendar.
I think this is what you cherish as your life evolves, not the objects but the permanent markers they represent.
When Didsbury Wife and I met we decided to rewrite the poignant memories with new ones. Not to forget, but to move on and make bitter into bittersweet and indulgent into fun.
Today marks exactly 30 years and 14 days since The Smiths played The Hacienda after performing This Charming Man on Top of the Pops. I will never forget that feeling of excitement and Mancunian pride I felt when they came on stage

Not so much a journey to an undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller has returned, a picture of the plane on which I went to Belfast.

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