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 “October, 2016”

The Night Formerly Known As Parents’ Evening¬†

30 years ago, September 1986 a revolution started in classrooms, led by 14/15 year olds. This was no Punk ethic, New Romantics had cried their eyeliner away and chances were if you had a beard you were a teacher – not a graphic designer. GCSE Electronics Multiple Choice Question.

In September 1986, inspired by General Noriega and the stormin’ Norman Shwarzkopf, the then Home Secretary was Keith Joseph. He was a man whose caricature was less scary than reality. He killed off O’Levels and unleashed GCSEs ready for 1988 (a very bad year for football). 

30 years on I inherited the garbled, evolved, underwhelming fallout; year 10 Parents’ Evening.* (the school year formerly known as 4th Year).

Didsbury Son is now in the full throes of teendom. He’s still my lovely blondini, only the blonde is now expensively applied and the adoration is squeezed in between bouts of predictable disdain, disinterest and mutual exasperation.
Parents Evenings used to be straightforward. They went out. You panicked and prepared your excuses whilst tidying your room in the hope of clemency. They came back. They unfolded a depressing tale of being sussed staring out of the window, drawing, mooching, skiving and generally being as disappointing as most teenage boys are at school. 

You could then go into school full of venom for all, which fed beautifully into teen angst. ** (apart from your one ally in either art, cookery or RE who had said what a lovely and misunderstood boy you were and you were always attentive in lessons. That is to say the one teacher you fancied and fixated upon).
This was easy. Careers advice was nil, students had no fees and could sign on and signing on itself was a career choice. 
Now it’s all wrong. The children come to talk with you. The night starts with a scare video based on the teenage brain, internet trolls and league tables. There is tea, coffee and biscuits and the tone is bizarre convention. 
Every conversation begins with handshakes and “So… Didsbury Son/Freya/Archie, how do you think it’s going?” This savage form of open questioning throws the over-sugared teens into a panic. They know the answer, we know the answer and the teacher hoping I won’t speak to them knows the answer. What follows is an excruciating dance. The teachers either gush inappropriately or hide their frustration behind anodyne comments. The teens promise to do whatever is needed; and their homework. It is an honest, heartfelt pledge that evaporates into the ether and is as likely to be done as the NHS is to get ¬£350m a day from the government. 
We troop home. Didsbury Son is relieved. With the adrenaline dripping away he reverts to teen-type and instagrams his friends as their versions of the night revert to folklore.
I get home for the last 2 minutes of Europa League football and fall into a deep sleep, safe in the knowledge that the status quo is restored and positive that the biscuits weren’t as good as last year. 

Hard hats, small beds and blowing bubbles

This started out as a light-hearted muse. Lapwing Lane has been turned into the Hi-Viz capital of the north. As the need for electrical upgrades takes the Chilli Banana’s road digging west of the city, more men in hard hats begin to take over.She’s starting to look old. That’s the elite for you. 

The pub formerly known as The Greenfinch, formerly known as The Bird in the Hand and now the unfathomable Generous George has had its bi-annual refit. It now has an enormous armchair outside it, Sky Sports inside and a lack of focus that really needs Learning Support. It sits in the suburban centre of M20, on the edge of Bohemia and thinks it’s a Travelodge off the M1. I’m going to petition whichever brewery is haemorrhaging a fortune to keep the playground open to turn it into a Dutch Pancake House. If we are going to throw money at dead concepts let’s go old school.

My concept for the new Generous George refit, wall to wall Lieutenant Pigeon.

Montrose Properties are having a major refit at Didsbury’s premier non-purple property centre and the skiptastic look to Lapwing Lane doesn’t end there.

Post Brexit only UK snacks will be allowed in lunch boxes. 

Pizza Express – where in the 80s I cashed my first giro (it was a post office) is having an overhaul. As it’s still always busy and every dad in Didsbury keeps an eye out for the 25% off mains offer in their inbox this is a bold move. I’m hoping to bring a review of the new doughball experience next week. 

Sneak preview of the new government housing strategy. 

The parade on Lapwing Lane is starting to resemble an al fresco Ikea. The tables and chairs outside Wine & Wallop extend to the Post Office, the furniture outside Didsbury Cafe ends at the hoardings bordering Sterling Chemists. I’m not sure if Jason’s operating a Latte and a prescription service but they’ll need softer cushions to bring in the Ultraproct crowd. 
I like Didsbury Food & Wine. Whilst Pete, Tom and Claire have Fusion buzzing and busy from early in the morning and continue to build their place as a community cafe for the proud to be liberal metropolitan dwellers (hooray for us in the middle), Didsbury Food & Wine takes a different path. The guys who run it are great. They saunter in after 10, too cool to Vape or chase the Metro commuters. They mooch, they’re laconic, they’re as not Didsbury as it gets – top place. Even when closed they have more customers than Didsbury Noodles and seem as relaxed as the punters walking out of Eve’s Retreat into the non table and chair end of Lapwing Lane’s shops. 
I was going to make light of this and the sad closure of Salon M20, once the fish foot nibbling centre of the village. It leaves three empty shops in a row and we are screaming for a firework shop and a few pop ups. (Although Waitrose would work).
I was. But it’s 2.30am and I’ve been awake for a long time worrying. The Oemeprozole and Camomile didn’t work. I’ve segued seamlessly between the usual triumvate of work, money, health. Trudged through the ever-depressing Brexit fallout, Theresa Thatcher (or is it Maggie May) and the general air of nastiness around. I’ve navel-gazed so deeply I thought I heard an echo. 
I used to lie awake worrying about football, girls and whether I could find girls who like football.
During the recession before last a friend of mine came up with a board game based on the idea of building your own bubble. The idea dissolved into a vodka in The Old Grey Horse but the intention works. 
I am now squeezed into a child’s bed with the mighty headed boy inching me over the edge. I’m breathing in his innocence and general joy at being alive. His hand is on my chest and he’s snorting gently and rhythmically down my ear, reminding me that this is my bubble and no one gets in here unless I let them. Family

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