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 category “Father’s Day”

View from the Car Park

I am sitting in a rapidly cooling car, backed by a couple of rapidly snoring toddlers. I am watching a sun so weak the Spartans would have given it a comfy bed dissolve into its December malaise. I am staring at B&Q in Stanley Green and Costa is too far away to leave the twins and snaffle a Gluten-free Mince Pie. I spend a sizeable number of weekends here. 

The combination of TK Maxx and Next virtually within sight of John Lewis is a siren call to South Manchester and North Cheshire. The car park houses a considerable number of men trying not to wake sleeping babies, boddlers and toddlers whilst cranking up BBC 5Live just loud enough to hear the minutiae of what is happening at Orient and St. Johnstone. 

 1970s Mobile DAB Unit 

There is a strange synergy for me. I have always loved radio and the Saturday afternoon football commentary dirge. From being small, in pre instant media, pre digital, pre Channel 4 and Orangina in the shops days I would spend Saturday afternoons away from the other Didsbury grandchildren. The melee of Saturday afternoon visiting and free sweets dismissed to clamber into our tank. I listened to the football, writing every score as it came in from place names that to 70s me seemed the epitome of exotic; aah Hull you romantic fool – beckon me with constant dampness and average football. I would hang on the florid descriptions of Peter Jones, Larry Canning and the now disgraced, then disgraceful Stuart Hall.  

 Peter Jones. A genius. 

As an early adopter of OCD fan support, sitting in cars and learning how to wait patiently, these 70s Saturdays parked outside my Grandparents were a great training for fatherhood.

The lack of stranger danger and freedom to spend 3 hours in a car on my own aged 6 seem as alien now as my bonfire night memory of entertaining uncle using a lit cigarette to light the fireworks.  

 We are inside waiting for TK Maxx to open 

But I do have good handwriting and can spell Molyneux. 

Coming Up: From Sew-In to Body Bar, From Gold Beach Holidays to closed and is there a non purple Estate Agent? It’s December in Didsbury

That Friday Feeling

Things I have learned but not acted upon.  Teamwork is the key
I’ve shaved (face) and I’m sitting on Chorlton’s rather wonderful Barbakan Deli Terrace with a coffee and a peppery potato cake. It’s Friday, I’m knackered and this morning I remembered the twins but forgot work bag, gym bag, lunch bag, Pappa’s got a brand new pig bag, Bagpuss and the words to Baggy Trousers. It’s been a long week. 

 me thanks morning

The sun is making me squint and I don’t have to move for 20 minutes; bliss. It’s been so frantic recently I haven’t had time to share my usual paternal sense of slight disbelief, confusion and pride. With an age range of nappy rash to spot cream, my parenting is a giant improv trying to look like a rehearsed show. 
How do mothers get that instinct for parameters? This week, all 3 children have had my attempts at specifics end in their tantrums, calmed by the good Mothership through a little rephrasing (note to self “Look mate, just do it. Daddy’s bollocksed” does not work for the post-boddler or pre-GCSE generation). 
I have complete non-judgemental respect for any family set-up of any number, gender or age. I look at families with single mums or two mums and think it must be great when everyone knows what they’re doing. I eye up single parent dads and think that life must be like being in Tiswas or being a character in The Dice Man (Luke Reinhardt, if you haven’t … Read it).
It’s a chromosomal anomaly. I can plan a multi-stop, catered journey to the second. My books, CDs and Football Programmes are regimented and always ready for inspection. However, when the day comes that I can’t interrupt my ham fisted dressing of the Mighty-Headed boy by pretending he has flying trousers and stopping his wailing by lifting him over my head I am out of ammunition for the next decade.
Thankfully – there will always be Haribo.  

 Essential parenting skills inside

Postcard from Murcia 3/4 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. There’ll be school buses running and no crappy punning or Russell Howard… It’s the most wonderful week OF THE YEEEEAAAAR. 
Eight weeks. Eight weeks with a 14 year old Didsbury Son. Eight Weeks with toddlers who lack volume control and tag sleep to keep us on our toes. And on September 2, school, nursery, routine and occasional quiet.  

 My mood board of ideas for downtime

I love being Didsbury Dad. I love all three of them equally and completely but the similarities between two year olds and fourteen year olds are many.
Both are great fun and their myopic take on laugh can be insightful and entertaining.
For both, life – completely self-focused at all times centres on “I want” and on pushing boundaries, flouncing around and over-reacting. Both are driven (and on holiday) riven by sugar but…
One has seemingly forgotten basic sharing life etiquette and two of them are cute enough to still get away with it.
Last year Didsbury Son reached teendom on holiday and the event itself was such a good day we slid into teenland as though at a water park. We toasted it, watched Kevin the Teenager and all laughed at its ludicrousness. This year Kevin has a room of his own in our lovely Villa and it’s all my fault. 
He is still our lovely Didsbury Son but the vagueness, often charmless, over reactive, hormone-fuelled moodiness of young teenage boys who are ultimate Inbetweeners is joyful and excruciating in equal measure.
At times he is so vague I feel I need to draw a line around him to make sure he is there and many conversations resemble a chat with someone who has been drinking all day and is now three to four seconds behind themselves. 
My years of parenthood, meditation, actualisation and a degree in Psychology make no difference. There is one aspect more awful than the rest. In lucid and calm moments I look at the awkwardness of Didsbury Son and remember being exactly the same.
Eight weeks to half-term. 

Charles Darwin, Giddy Goats and The Bisou Conspiracy

The fashion for hipster beards and the move towards e-cigarettes has given the Metrolink station a specific retro look. The gauche style of inhaling the e-cig as though it were a pipe has given the ramp to the ticket machine the look of a WG Grace / Charles Darwin look-a-like competition.   
Victorian favourites the peacocks plan to ride in on the wave of the summer retro look. 

I don’t understand e-cigs. I used to smoke many years ago, pre-Didsbury Dad days when a) I could afford it and b) you didn’t have to stand outside like a plane spotter at the airport. There seems no pleasure to e-cigs. With nicotine patches you could forget you were wearing them and “accidentally” have a smoke to get a genuinely scary hit. Nicotine gum gives you something to do with your teeth other than bite your nails and going cold turkey makes you look dangerous, which can be useful in a crowd.

I never take being an “ex” for granted; but know that there is more chance of Cibo and Nido returning to Didsbury and becoming successful chains than there is of me buying flavoured vapours to inhale.

Anyway, whilst I’ve been off there have been many changes in Didsbury’s retail look that need attention.

1. Zizzi, gone? This faux Pizza Express and its signage have disappeared from the building that sits in a prime location on the corner of Wilmslow and Barlow Moor Road, but has floundered since it was the Old Grey Horse in the 80s/90s and shows no sign of gaining popularity. Would make a great 3-floor Bisou Bisou Bisou. Sneaking around Didsbury with a turquoise box full of French patisserie has become our naughty little habit. 

2. Didsbury’s first day spa has ground to a halt. On the site of the legendary (to the 40 and overs) Sweaty Betty’s Chippy, the insulation sits in the window like lost bales of hay and the window display has changed from advertising for staff to offering time shares. 

  
Didsbury’s next charity shop?

3. The Dog Grooming shop, In The Dog House on Barlow Moor Road is still open, defying the “How Long will it last” sweepstake kit in the South Manchester Reporter. Not sure if it’s the drop-off proximity to Albert’s Shed or the sudden influx of Pugs and Daschunds to Didsbury’s parks but well done – it’s cool as fox merchandise and breezy demeanour are superb and I’ll be in for a wet shave on Blade’s day off. 

4. The laser clinics are here, Cafe Rouge still stands like a ghost ship and we still haven’t got a Waitrose. There’s a great new clothes shop on School Lane and the Fish Masala at Sangam 2 is worth the view into the Karma Sutra. 
I had the perfect Didsbury conversation in Giddy Goat Toys a couple of weeks ago. I was having a natter with Mrs Goat when Jed the Windowcleaner, complete with Manchester City sweatshirt breezed in. Our three-way conversation moved seamlessly from childcare, the weather and Bisou Bisou, to children and the angst and stress caused by them being led astray in their choice of football team. Mid myopic drone all three of us turned to the patient and brave mother at the till buying her 4 children presents with a hearty “Eid Mubarak” before settling back to judgemental football chat. Anyone who takes more than one non-sleeping child into a toy shop deserves respect. 

  Rumour has it that Zizzi shut after failing to win planning permission for this extension.

Next week – the perils of poverty discussed through the prism of the Bloke selling Sticky Toffee Pudding in too pushy a manner outside The Cheese Hamlet last Saturday. 

How I learned the way of the Gorilla.

Fathers Day I was woken by the sound of muffled voices, shuffling feet and a click as the door closed. Then, silence. I tried to come around to the day. My throat was dry and the detritus of a night that had extended way too far into the morning surrounded me. Beakers, a pull-up, a chewed through dummy and the crumbs of a rusk. Man I felt rough.

  For dads who have lost the will to live – this is for you.

Then I noticed something else. It was still quiet. The smell of freshly brewed coffee snaked its way upstairs alongside the unmissable note that belonged to three words that are so personal in their interpretation; Full English Breakfast.
   The breakfast of champions

I pinched myself to check I was awake. The house was quiet and on the table were a coffee pot and mug, cutlery and two notes. I poured a coffee, luxuriating in a first drink of the day that came hot and without the aroma of potty training.

  
The note read “Happy Fathers Day. Didsbury Son is out all day and I’ve taken The Mighty Headed Boy and Pearly Princess to a three hour crèche sesh. Your breakfast is in the oven. Read note 2 afterwards. Didsbury Wife x”

If music be the food of love then good food is music to my love and after a fabulous Full English I risked note 2. This guided me to the living room, some cards and a three-hour video of 80s football.

I padded to the couch. I flicked on the TV and drifted off to the sound of The Smiths and a procession of manly mullets and Ellesse trainers.
The pressure in my chest increased, there seemed to be something on top of me. I felt the density of the air change and then came the noise. I was still in bed. The Mighty Headed boy was sitting on me. I opened my eyes, pinched myself and realised that now I was actually awake and my mind had a played a cruel trick as three more words snapped across the room, “Daddy. Wee. Now.”

Didsbury Festival – My tuppence worth

There is something wonderfully timeless about Didsbury Festival. The parade, the mix of charities, scouts and local causes peddling goodies and the eye-watering prices at the funfair. It has a community spirit that is genuinely uplifting and a lack of threat that is one of South Manchester’s greatest strengths.

However, I must admit I felt a slight sense of tiredness and staleness . It might be me. Didsbury Son volunteers, keeps his profile as low as possible and slopes off. The Mighty Headed Boy and his Pearly-Princess sister are a year too young to be part of it and a year too old too need a sleep so we can hang out and speak to friends.
I had the feeling that it needs a bit of an upgrade. The festival is/has been a great call to congregate for the whole of M20. The 21st Century vibe that emanate from WestFest, Makers Market and Didsbury Arts Festival have upped the ante. No longer is there a Cibo, Nido or suchlike to lower the expectation. 
The. Field felt a little sparsely used this year and the compère  was barely annoying; something not quite as Didsbury as usual.
We have a Metrolink station and are a media savvy/luvvy crowd. Without losing the essential feel – a few new tweaks and a decent marketing campaign are needed to come back in 2015 and draw the crowd away from the European Championships. 
Thinking caps on…

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.
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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…

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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 Guide to London

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep. Our journey of 200ish began with the low-level restraint only packing a car with three children, two adults and 20 bags the day after rich food, quality booze and general indulgence can bring. A real journey begins with a coffee. Bisou Bisou and Fusion let me down but thankfully Didsbury Village has around 20 outlets (excluding restaurants) with coffee and this Boxing Day morning the Costa machine at the Shell Garage did a mean White Americano.

Christmas Day was a huge success at Didsbury Dad Towers (more in the next blog). From the Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly-Topped Girl’s lie-in, to Didsbury Son’s charm, through a smoothie breakfast, a turkey so moist we clapped, to presents well-received. So a Boxing Day Drive with a car full had all the ingredients for disaster.

We were an hour late leaving. Didsbury Son was having angst about the brand of the latest electronic device in his collection. The twins were not tired. A slight hangover combined with the effect of sprouts, cheese and champagne on a system fuelled by Oemeprozole could seriously test the air conditioning.

Four amazingly tension-free hours later we arrived in London. For those who don’t know it, London’s a big city in need of a wash, with a lot of people. The water doesn’t taste very nice, but it has a wide selection of Nando’s and its North West has enough ex-pat Mancunians to iron out some of its flaws.

So for Boxing Day and the rest of the Christmas holidays a guide from a world traveller to the 5 must dos on any trip to the home of David Cameron, Wormwood Scrubs and Jellied Eels. London has some magnificent attractions, make the most of any visit.
1. Lock your doors.
2. Whether it’s sterimar, olbas oil
Or a Vicks inhaler do not worry about the grime you will inhale – just be prepared.
3. Try the Underground. Not only is it impressively claustrophobic, but Euston, with trains to Manchester every 20 minutes is easily accessible.
4. Remember what a pain it is driving everywhere. It makes rush hour on Barlow Moor Road seem a breeze.
5. Speak to the locals. Even though they think Rosy Lea is a drink and you can climb apples and pears, it’s not an ism, it’s London Rhyming-Slang and is hilarious and unique.
6. Don’t be parochial.

Tomorrow: the first sentient Christmas Day with the twins – whoops, games and a guide to a happy day.

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The Mighty-Headed boy cruises the streets of London looking for snacks.

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To be honest, the Natural History Museum was a little disappointing.

Didsbury’s Christmas Tree shines brighter than McBusted

Wednesday night saw Didsbury Village at its best for the Christmas tree switch-on. Stewards in Santa Man. City outfits telling us Santa’s not a red, it was a coca cola conspiracy. A host with a microphone full of enthusiasm and a unique lyrical skill, led us through free mulled wine and pizza, bags of satsumas and women handing out sweets. It was magical. The mulled wine was provided by The Stokers Arms and delivered by Bisou Bisou’s lovely Front of House – a kind of McBusted for the village. Santa arrived on a fire engine with a sound system playing Chris Rea and The Mighty Headed Boy, gently crushing my shoulders from the top down, cried as though Chris Rea himself were coming to sing.
The tree lit up, the sweets were snaffled and a good time was had by all. Only the darkness where once was Cafe Rouge reminded us that not everyone has there own French Patisserie – but we do, happy holidays.

N.B. I have no idea who McBusted are. I even watched I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here to see if they were there.

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Ready for the big night out

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The stars came out

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The Mighty Headed Boy v Santa

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Love, Hate and The Festive Season

The Festive Season is nearly upon us. Nearly as in the nauseating adverts have been launched and there is a slight sense of panic surrounding everyone I know. I don’t even have to worry about accessorising my little black dress; but from the taint of the wrong toy to a misunderstanding about the origins, ethos and expectations it can be stressful. There are certain aspects of Daddom that make even the most benign aspects of the season something to dread.
Here are my top ten…

1. Jools Holland’s Hootenanny: In my murky media lifetime I spent many New Years’ Eves throwing the party. There are late September, early October teens and early twenty somethings whose existence is down to these parties. They leave a legacy of slightly crumpled thirty plus ten somethings. However eclectic and enthralling the musicians are – watching a bunch of Z listers pretend it’s New Years’ Eve just doesn’t cut it.

2. The 5am pain of Christmas Day: Didsbury Son was a beautiful bouncing Blondini bed banger at 5am on 25th December. Finally, the Christmas before the twins were born he ambled in at 8 ish and then made a cup of tea. We lolled and had the most laid back and groovy day. I now have another decade of door slamming and early early footsteps to manage. My head, back and knees have lodged a formal complaint.

3. Mince Pies: these sweet and juicy, sticky, crumbly heralds of baby Jesus and a Christmas Market. These hand-sized waist tormentors and palate coverers. I love you, but in the cause of waistline not wasteland I must ignore you and treat you like someone who not only thrived on Movember, but decided to keep it because it “suits me”.

4. False Bonhomie: Hey, how are you. We’ve had no contact but you’re Jewish, I’m an Atheist let’s have a Christmas drink? The human equivalent of a casual Facebook like.

5. The 7am Xmas Eve queue at Evans and Axons. It looks as though civil war has broken out, middle-aged, middle class men from across the southern suburbs have been forced to get from their beds to queue for supplies and hand over wads of cash for a Copper Bronze Turkey. It’s when men know their place and the taste can be worth it.

6. 28th December – knockdown.
You spend £15.99 on some plastic tat. You cut two fingers on the unwrapping, spend £8 for a battery that lasts 6 minutes at the only shop open Christmas Day afternoon and three days later – having stubbed your toe tripping over its unused, unloved cadaver on the stairs, it’s 2.99 in Tesco.
This venting is working, I already feel more festive.

7. The Queen’s Speech
I am sure she’s a lovely woman. Bringing up four kids in the spotlight must be difficult, although Victoria and David are doing okay so far. BUT. If I want to hear old people talk about their lives, whilst talking on behalf of the nation I can listen to a phone in on BBC Local Radio.

8. The Stove Room.
Lovely shop. Great to have it in West Didsbury. The cost of a bag of wood. It’s enough to make you go Aga.

9. Wine at £6.50 a glass
My time on the other side of the bar learning the rudiments of wet sales and profit margins on them has ruined me as a date. Didsbury Wife has to put up with a cost breakdown to ruin each round. Only out hated by paying for sparkling water. No need, no point.

10. Christmas Specials
I love watching TV. Couch slouching whilst watching aimlessly with Didsbury Son, hands on snacks is one of life’s pleasures. But (with the exception of Porridge, Dad’s Army and On The Buses) I am struggling to find a Christmas Special less sour than a lime. It’s the screen equivalent of bonhomie.

With that out of the way there is much to enjoy – The Snowman is slowly edging out Frozen, Atuls is always open and time off work means a quick stroll to Bisou Bisou and The AiryFairyCupCake Boutique. There’s the Xmas Light Switch on (and talk of it being plural this year), there are Blagg’s Christmas Trees and the chance of a day without email. Yet more, even more than this is wide berth people offer a family with more than one toddler. I’m looking forward to it already.

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The queues for Axons and Evans Warm up.

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The Mighty Headed Boy awaits a Mince Pie

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