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 “May, 2015”

New Beginnings, Old Goodbyes and The Northern Quarter

It’s been a time for new starts and changes in Didsbury Dad Towers. The end of the football season always marks that period when Didsbury Brother phones me and we wonder how we will get through the 8/9 weekends coming up with no constant football interference to fill the space and act as punctuation.
  

Headlining this week is Dora the Explorer…

The Mighty Headed Boy and Pearly Princess are saying goodbye to nappies. It’s been a week measured in gaps between potty visits and frequent visits to Co-Op for more kitchen towel. Like all these rites of passage, the reality positively outwits the dread and it’s been constant but weirdly satisfying. The realisation that intent, action and vocalisation have a fluid running order you need to shape carefully is an uplifting thought.
  
The new all you can eat buffet. These are the new currency.

Didsbury Wife has been a blur of action this week – without realising it, the boddlers have been changed forever with only stickers and Cadbury Chocolate Buttons as props and the floor has been cleaned so often we also realised we could never be bothered being OCD. 

  
Oasis at Maine Road, The Roses at The Hacienda, Catatonia at The Roadhouse, Chris Blackwood in Didsbury Park.

Didsbury Son waved goodbye to being sized by age to width/height. We went to town to cruise the Northern Quarter for clothes and art. He is a big fan of Manga so we visited Forbidden Planet. If you ever want to feel better about yourself, understand your peccadillos are fine go here. Watching hipsters and geeks salivate over Jabba the Hut and argue about fonts made me realise that I’m okay. I peaked at Carrie Fisher in the 2nd Star Wars several decades ago. I was looking for the sign behind the till that reads “you don’t have to speak Klingon to work here but it helps.”
I love mooching about the Northern Quarter. In pre Didsbury Dad says it was my domain. I worked and played here for a decade and enjoyed being part of the city’s fabric as we moved from Madchester to post-bomb tourist attraction and cultural hub. As the new Home theatre/gallery/cinema sits in the shadow of the Hacienda’s descendants so this weekend a venue I shaped a generation ago says goodbye and another piece of my personal history becomes memory and memorabilia. 
Measuring the development of my family in their milestones and this latest part of my life just adds another layer of experience – one that moves the day from the nighttime economy and being out to being home more with people for whom each day is a new world and a big idea is building a space ship out of cushions. 

New Order, Grayson Perry, The Didsbury Festival and the next summer of love

One of the issues with social media is that this newish communication genre, with its instant global reach and even quicker reactive response means that your past is never far from your inbox.  – Didsbury Festival 1965 before the Mods were attacked by a giant thumb coming from the left.

The joy of finding that tune you loved so much in 1980something is followed by invitations to reunions, groups and endless backward glancing connections to remind you why you (and they) moved on. We haven’t spoken in years? Probably a conscious decision on both sides.

Remember Glastonbury ’86, Red Wedge, thinking Flock of Seagulls were cutting edge? Me too. Great times, of their moment and best remembered occasionally and in specific settings. 

 another night of sleep depravation leaves you feeling hungover and your knees creak at the thought of the stairs as you trundle down for milk and clean clothes, you don’t want a notification. Certainly not one that reminds you 25 years ago three hours sleep meant an early night; a silk cut with a brew and The Smiths was the vegetarian breakfast of champions and kickstarted your day.   

– getting ready for “Jump Around” on another comeback tour. 

So to festivals new. The idea of pitching a tent next to a load of 19 year olds seems as enticing as re-living teething with the twins or Didsbury Son’s primary school music evenings. I saw all the great pre-millennium bands pre-millennium. With the exception of Madness, most of them are better on iTunes and YouTube. I already get to be kept up all night by the incoherent, self-obsessed and verbally incontinent on a regular basis.

So my festival season for Summer 2015 looks local. It’s fun, affordable and if I need a little, you know, lift, I can get some Solpadeine Max from Boots and anything from the shelf at Bisou Bisou.

  – I found this old picture of me after Reading Festival 1991.
Coming up we have Didsbury Open Gardens (New Order headlining but keep it to yourself), Didsbury Arts Festival (Grayson Perry v Tracey Emin mash-up is what the grapevine says), Makers Market West Didsbury (just starts later and is more BoHo than this weekend’s in the centre of Didsbury) and the mighty Didsbury Festival on June 13th. With WestFest, Rosh Hashana and Harvest Festival to round it off it looks a big summer.
The boddlers are up for it, Didsbury Son is mad for it and the vibes are good. Now fetch me a Werthers and some Vicks, I’m going Old Skool.   

 

– The organic Hog Roast is marinating ready for Didsbury Festival 

The Joy of Potty Training Twins

As a liberal lefty-leaning metropolitan kind of dad with a clear handle on the difference between ristretto and macchiato, but without a tool belt I know a thing or two about the theory of things. I am an expert on what you should do, but like most my theory is stronger than my practical. (That’s an exam time reference. Remember if you are doing GCSE English that LOL and GR8 are not titles and do not need capitalisation).

Anyway, I digress. I live in a house with self-help books a plenty, although my pitch for a book titled “How to give the impression you’re more organised than you are and NOT lie awake at night worrying about getting found out.” didn’t quite make it. On various shelves, in other people’s houses over various years I have seen “The Gift of Dyslexia”, “Embrace Your Inner Awkward”, “Failure is the new Success” and the ludicrous “There are more important things than football” but amongst the slew of gurus from Gina Ford to Juicing Jason, the life coaches and the charlatans no one has ever written,
“The Joy of Potty Training Twins” (or what can you do with 20 pairs of pants, a mop, a bucket and a forest of kitchen roll.)
Your world shrinks to a room and two plastic potties (or is it pottii). We played tag going out for an hour. Any errand was embraced as a much loved friend. There is something Big Brother vs Waterworld about the whole experience.
duggee pic
(Hey Duggee is 6 minutes and 55 seconds long which allows perfect on and off potty timing when you get so bored you could count milk stains)

Halfway through Day One the jigsaw and floor were both wet and the laundry basket was full of Peppa Pig and Roary the Racing Car embossed pants gurning wet grins up at us; the potty was dry. The bribe barrel was empty and we were knackered.
1
The original title was Men Are From Mars because they wouldn’t stop to ask directions, Women are from Venus because they were talking and took the wrong turn.)

Didsbury Wife’s preparation was so thorough there were no glitches and when… after many wet wolf cries we got a result the joy all around was genuine. We broke out the Dora the Explorer “We did it.” dance, the stickers, chocolate buttons and the boddlers spent the rest of the day trying to remember which bit of jumping, sitting and weeing won them the prizes and the praise.

This joy made me think about the pleasure this brings to all. This morning the Mighty Headed boy fairly ran downstairs desperate to ditch the diaper and dance on the potty and I realised the true “joy of potty training twins” is that I’m writing this on the way to work and don’t have to do it today…

IMG_3687
The original front cover shot for “Use Your Body to heal your Mind” was subtitled “Sod it a cocktail in the sun solves most things.”

Didsbury Dad’s guide to a coalition government

By the time you read this we may have a new Prime Minister (no politics except family politics in this blog but fingers crossed, please, pretty please). We may have twins, triplets or even quads saving/savaging this sceptred Isle dependent on your view. We could have probably done with the royal baby (one for each of the twins now – looking to set up a play date ) coming a week later to distract the Daily Mail and be claimed by whichever team wins. 

I always wanted to go up to the policeman outside Downing Street and say “Cameron and Clegg – twins eh, double trouble, bet you’ve got your hands full.”

Anyway, back to the multiples. This is somewhere I can advise. I have been that person pacing nervously, holding hands with Mrs Didsbury when the nurse surveys the scan and  says “I’m pleased to tell you it’s twins.” 
It’s a feeling that is hard to contain, wonderful and jaw-dropping simultaneously as your mind goes pinging and the most pointless logistical thoughts go through your head. They may as well tell you it’s free all day at DFS if you can memorise the barcodes and tell them your top 5.
The permanent private  under-secretaries will be going through the same process today. Will Dave share a bunk with Nigel? Is Ed going to be troublesome if he squabbles with Nicky and would Justine mind him sharing with Leanne, Nicola and possibly The Green Lantern. The bathroom rota with all of them at Downing Street could be awful and how can you make sure that everyone gets enough cuddles, porridge and one-to-one time.
If it’s twins then the country may be thinking what I was three years ago in a windowless room in Stretford; “Waheeey, Oh My God, More, less, donkey, how does Lucy Meacock always look so fresh on Granada Tonight?”
But it will be okay. We will survive. In five years when they are all potty trained and have learned to share we can try again and I will wager we will be having the same arguments, the same accusations, the same alliances we have now – like any good family get together. 

Wordy Rappinghood – why it matters

Words I love and hate.

I was in a queue at a supermarket last week. Let’s not name names, let’s call it Smooths at MediaCityYouK. There was a nice woman standing behind me with two small children. The little one, who looked about thee was getting fractious so I did a little gooning about and we all made friends. The man behind the checkout joined in, uninvited. Apparently he too had a “Threenager”. I stopped. The woman looked slightly embarrassed as we wondered whether to
A) ignore the naffness and move on
B) stab him with the kabanos I held in my hand.
C) go to Morissons across the road.
Threenager? Threenager! Threef#^*ingnager. Threenager is right down there with Terrible Twos, 4 year old girls wearing t-shirts that proclaim “Porn Star” on the front, Keep Calm and Carry on Zumba and shops proclaiming themselves “Krazee” or offering “Kutz”.
This is dangerous territory. Not only is our language too beautiful to throw away like this (you repeat Red Lorry Yellow Lorry after a night on the Calpol and tell me I’m wrong), but we continue to create this theme park expectation.
Didsbury Son is 13. He is still the lovely boy he has always been, but he has chemical surges that are part of the often awkward growing trajectory. We all had/have days as teenagers when the world is against all goes wrong. There are times when we both glare, glower and wonder at each other’s stupidity. The moments may be difficult but they are natural and it is the expectation to behave like a grown toddler that is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I know some lovely teenagers. I know some for whom my best intentions fall well below humanity. They are not like that just because they are teens. 
What are the terrible twos? At 2 the world is a huge playground/fridge that revolves only around you. You are the stars, the moon, the sun and heir (the temptation to go into Smiths lyrics here is almost unbearable) to a oneness that is overwhelming. Between the daily dose of kisses, hugs and moments of joy is/are your child(ren)’s introduction to negotiation. If you have not had to witness UKIP’s abysmal rise, never chewed your nails through the last month of a Premier League season, lost a person close to you or been dumped then of course whether or not you get a biscuit is worthy of tears. 
So the twos are not terrible. They stretch your joints, your patience and your ability to watch the same programme over and over BUT… They only last 52 weeks and I have a feeling that I will miss the babbling, utter adoration and openness that typify this year. 
So there is my ten pence worth. Cliches and Platitudes are not described that way as a compliment; however tiring or frustrating a teenage/toddler tantrum is they are part of the furniture and once they are through this the opportunities to eat fish fingers and buy plastic tat are gone forever and that is testing. 

Didsbury, I have a confession

I want to make a full confession. I’ve been unfaithful, several times. It didn’t mean anything, I’ve done it with friends and Didsbury Wife has been there with me. Once or twice Didsbury Son, Pearly Princess and The Mighty-Headed Foghorn Leghorn were there. They didn’t know what was going on. It’s been exciting, it’s been refreshing. So I want to come clean. Over the last month I’ve been going out in… Chorlton.
I’m sorry Didsbury. I know my heart lies with Fusion Deli and Bisou Bisou. I can practice all I learn watching Dora the Explorer at Pinchjos and that Steranko, Aldi and Didsbury Library fulfil all my needs but, but.
I was weak, I hadn’t shaved for a bit and I’d seen a feature on hemp clothing and it happened. First I went to Coriander (don’t tell The Third Eye, I think I should do it myself). They served goat. I was powerless. On the way home we went to the Co-Op next door. It was so old school, so poorly laid out, the staff were hopeless and I got nostalgic. 
Then it escalated. For a birthday treat Didsbury Wife and I went to Laundrette (achingly upbeat, average food, love drinks and staff who look like they eat once a month). They served Strawberry Mojitos and despite the lowness of the seats my knees barely creaked.
Everyone there was 20 years younger than us and I felt so proud to be able to hold a conversation without the use of a mobile device we stayed.
Then last week it happened. Afternoon Delight. I was in the area with Didsbury Wife. We had an hour until we had to pick up any children. I needed a chemist and we went to San Juan on Beech Road for tapas. It was 4.15 and there was not only a free table, but there was no man in there with a beard and they had Scallops and Rioja. I am only human. 
I can barely look at the new dog grooming shops in the village for shame. It’s so obvious. We have a hundred hairdressers, now let’s cut animal hair. 
Didsbury Wife and I have decided that this illicit little sidestep is just the start. In a different pre Didsbury Dad life I lived in Chorlton. And we have much in common. Whilst this is not a political blog it is nice to be sure that both sides of The Parkway the attitude is unashamedly, Metropolitan minded and open. Tomorrow we are going to Cheadle, sshhhh. 

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