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 “Moaning for Britain”

Didsbury: I Have a Dream

I have a dream. I have many dreams. Beyond a harmonious world and an easy to assemble Kinder Egg Toy, I have dreams.          I remember when all of this was train track. 
I dream of reading a newspaper article (analogue or digital) whose research is not a celebrity twitter feed and in which fact checking does not mean a retweet. 

I dream of the time when the Pearly Princess can put on her own tights. Truly, as a man with the dexterity of the average baby this is a daily bind. Fifteen minutes spent struggling with a wriggly toddler to find they are on back to front and the heel is over one knee is soul destroying in a way that working out next to someone who keeps asking if you’re okay “…as you don’t get many people in your age” can only peck at gently.Burns, La Tasca, Cibo, Solita. Inhabitants and the back four of FC Nido in the 2004 Champions League qualifier. 

I dream of a time when each incarnation of the restaurant known as Y Fabrica (me neither, no idea) join forces. Whether it’s The Mud Crab Cafe, Felicinis or Didsbury Wine Bar, between them there is a decent menu lying in wait. 

I dream of people caring about each other. Of pushy mothers in 4x4s not double parking or taking residents’ spaces when dropping their Freyas and Archies at Primary School. Of the staff at Evans being knighted for services to middle class dinner parties in South Manchester. Of Unicorns singing Stone Roses tunes as you pass the “Welcome to Greater Manchester” sign on the M56 and of a time when my first action of the day is not deciding what to do with a pull-up. The names on the mug are in reverse order.

Alongside every act of lazy and institutionalised xenophobia we have witnessed over the last year I believe there is goodness. There are people who realise the contribution of all people whether British born or not. I thought about this as I sipped the most exquisite Sardinian-made Bloody Mary at Piccolino’s on Saturday. I remember it when it when I bump into people who remember me going for sweets on Lapwing Lane with my own Didsbury grandad. Rare picture of Fog Lane Park’s Pets’ Corner

I dream of a world where Coronation Street does not move so quickly that I miss a month and have no idea who Steve MacDonald has married/impregnated/saved.Kiwi, a rare Didsbury delicacy from when Evans first opened. 

I dream of a world where the city abruptly ends and the country takes over in seconds. Then I remember Stenner Lane, the perfect cut through between almost Gastropub The Didsbury and the haven of Fletcher Moss.

Ten minutes looking at the river and I don’t care who’s blocked my drive, which continent Felicini’s is pretending to be from or which toddler’s knee wakes me with a morning kidney jab. I just tap my heels together 3 times and I’m walking back from Flannagan’s with a smart haircut and a Fosters’ chippie tea in my hand. 

* thanks to @craftwords for keeping me up to date with developments and great one-liners whilst I’ve been too busy navel-gazing to write a regular blog. 

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A New Dawn. Not always a good morning

What a week. It has been huge whatever your politics, the changes have been seismic. As an avowed liberal, with lefty intentions and a distaste for dogma – my “Live and let live” philosophy has been tested. My pacifist facade was dented by breaking out into cheering when a masked protestor punched a smug far-rightist live on TV. I found the Women’s March uplifting and Grayson Perry’s comment that “you won’t find a babysitter left in North London” the kind of self-aware reasoning I love. Let’s hear it for the Metropolitan, Metrosexuals, the liberals. We may park badly and have too many kitchen implements but whatever your religion, ethos or kink; it’s your business. (*obviously if any of the children came home and seriously wanted to follow Man United or give up Houmous I may need a rethink). We scatter these Basil Leaves over organic Mozarella as a symbol of freedom. 



The great thing about family life is that it levels any great stance you take and it’s constant rhythm cannot be ignored. Your priorities are not always your children’s. 
Didsbury Wife and I were about to try and digest Didsbury Son’s confession that he hadn’t watched the inauguration but had seen some memes on Snapchat (is it just Snap now? Or Chat? Or hell for parents of teenagers?) when the toddler’s clarion call for bottom wiping came from the bathroom. Prioriities are clear. Noddy and Big Ears symbolise the kind of accepting partnership we need going forward. 

Our outraged viewing of Trumpy and Melon and cooing over Barrack and Michelle was interrupted as it was boring and we’d promised they could watch Numberjacks. As it turned out this was a good move. Zero the Hero resonated. 

I have tried to think of reasons to celebrate beyond feeling smugly educated and not that fat as I watched this dangerous man take power and his supporters being interviewed. They may be in power now, the blight of Nationalism is rearing its putrid head. But. This is what I came up with. 
1. It has given me a chance to get out my Redskins collection and play “Neither Washington Nor Moscow” a lot. 
2. Late on Friday night after everyone had gone to bed I sat up and had a contemplative cup of tea. As the tea brewed I remembered a Twirl at the bottom of my work bag. There are few solo pleasures that beat hot tea and a Twirl with The Archers on in the background on iPlayer. Rob Tichener sacked, next step Washington. 
3. Every time I doubt my own sanity I just think of the mammoth I saw on TV from “Ohio Against Satanists” and feel better.
4. We are probably having the same conversations we had when George W Bush came in. It just seems more gung-ho, more nasty and less to do with anything noble. 
5. Didsbury Son has it covered and if he needs a balaclava to go out protesting I have one ready for him. 
The Redskins – Bring It Down https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RgaAKP3Pd8o

The Lion King, Parkin and Steven Spielberg

How you celebrate festivals as a child is crucial as to how you deliver them to your own friends and family. My Didsbury mum, auntie and extended entourage celebrated everything. Bonfire night was all tomato soup outside with treacle toffee, Parkin and anxiety amid the awe that a Catherine Wheel would take my eye out. 70s safety adverts lacked nuance but were packed with graphics to scar the psyche permanently. Once I found out the reasons behind Bonfire Night I loved it more, immediately taking the side of the conspirators; a normal Northern reaction. Jewish New year meant apples and honey; Eid brought pistachio sweets from Syrian friends of the original Didsbury Dad. 

  This is apparently cutting edge Anime. I thought it was from Pink Floyd. 

This was too exotic for words. Remember this was the when the Queen was in her 40s. If you had pineapple people thought you had won the pools* (Note 1). 

We also loved Christmas. Our house was decoration free and no pigs had blankets. Non-participation at home gave me the best out to see everyone else’s. To me, a decorated Christmas tree was the epitome of cool and I am still a sucker for a string of lights and a chocolate bauble. I also get giddy on FA Cup 3rd Round Day (Bovril), Winter Solstice (Cake and Wine) and anything celebrated with fried chicken.  

 High-tech Halloween.

The next generation are already starting to shape their own future. My pearly princess is a happy soul and easy going spirit who skips lightly through whatever is infront of her. Didsbury Son likes the detail and the art of a festival and The Mighty Headed Boy found Nirvana on Saturday in Didsbury.

He has been through the excitement of Christmas and greeted it with an enthusiasm that could be lifelong. He has sampled the best Friday night Dinner chicken soup and given it a toddlers’ thumbs up but… Nothing will ever match the logic and sheer joy of Halloween.  

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Dressed up as a monster with hands free and mouth available he knocked on strangers’ doors, shouted Trick before mumbling incoherently and they gave him sweets and chocolates. 
The generosity of Didsbury was quite stunning. Across M20 the pumpkins were out and the kids from 0-teenage were welcomed with open bowls and quirky sweets. It was uplifting in all the best ways. 

In terms of training children to anticipate danger this would seem as appropriate as the 1970s BBC giving Jimmy Saville a show making children’s dreams come true; but he loved it. 

Mind blown, plastic bucket filled and several blocks shaken down for Haribo, he sat on the couch like Mufasa showing off Simba to the animal kingdom. 

Had he not been surfing the wave of a sugar rush I am sure he would have turned to me and told me, Jawsesque, “Daddy, We’re going to need a bigger bucket”
* Pre Lottery, pre scratch cards, pre Big Brother and Sky this was your best way to upgrade to a Vauxhall Firenza. 

Postcards from Murcia 4/4 – This Much I Know.

This much I have learned about family holidays as 39 years and 39 months sail into the distant past and the dread of another 6 years primary school edutainment looms into view:
1. The only advantage to flying with small children is priority loading. This does not compensate for knowing that your only chance of getting someone’s kit off in the plane toilet on board is if they’ve had an accident.
2. That the villa comes complete with Sky Sports and Movies only adds to your frustration that the only channels you’ll be surfing are CBeeBies, Pop and Didsbury Son’s Russell Howardathon on Comedy Central. 
3. Going through security is now one of the best bits. Watching stern security guards trying to deal with The Mighty Headed Boy’s button pressing and Foghorn Leghornesque questions and being hugged by the Pearly Princess can be a joy to behold.  

S

 
4. You would not think you had enough water in you to sweat as much as you do for the first 50 miles in your hire car. Your mantra “stick to the right, priority to the left” will haunt your dreams. 
5. Looking around the baby pool at the other parents I realised I was the only one who remembered the peseta and Laurie Cunningham playing for Real Madrid. 
6. My twins were the only boddlers not weeing in the swimming pool. They both insisted on getting out, standing next to the pool and weeing on the ground for an audience.
7. My holiday extravagances are more likely to lead to gout than a night of excess and a slight feeling of guilt.
8. I don’t judge anyone by their tattoos unless they are British and their tattoos are Sanskrit, Japanese, Chinese or Latin (football club mottos excluded), then I do judge them. 
9. Crisps taste better in the sun.
10. Wherever I go in the world, however deflated I am to return to Britain, the first flat voweled voice I hear at Passport Control reminds me this is home.
Home now and ready for the damp descent to autumn and those lovely winter nights when the ground shines and your breath leads you home. Good luck everyone. 

One Down Dog You don’t come up from quickly

So there I was, flat on my back. It was dark and I was on the floor. My left hand stretched through the bars and held a pudgy, squidgy hand. My right arm stretched backwards over my head through another set of bars to another hand. I heard myself singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and humming songs, to which I only know derogatory football-related lyrics and for five minutes I was in heaven. My sciatic nerve was stretching, I was off homework duty and the football had not quite kicked off. 

Then it hit me. This quasi-crucifix position on my not quite Athletic, post post 39 body is a disaster in waiting. As my stretched right arm began to quiver and a searing pain munched its way up and down it, I came to two age-related realisations;
1. It is now 30 months since the twins were born and I was last pain free. These babies, now full-volume, negotiating toddlers are a gift – but one which pulls every joint, vertebrae and limb in a daily dance designed to test (and find weaknesses). I am now 18% cortisone and Boots’ pharmacy greet me like bartenders and ask “the usual, sir?”.
2. I have no idea how to move. It’s a bit cold and I’ve been lying flat on the floor now for 40 minutes; any hope of graceful transition to vertical disappeared 37 minutes ago. 
All of this is a drop in a choppy ocean compared to the payback a cuddle and an I Love You bring from a grinning two-year old holding open your eyelid and then adding “Wake Up Daddy, Dora on TV?”
But… For those waiting to be Didsbury or other Dads beware – there is a floor waiting for your back and the football will be over by the time you get downstairs. 

 

Next Up… Hairdressers are so passé, it’s Dog Grooming Didsbury from now on. 

Elvis Presley, Bisou Bisou, Muhammed Ali and Sweaty Betty’s

“There are contenders, there are pretenders, but there is only one king. Bruce Springsteen said this about Elvis Presley and Muhammed Ali gave life to a version of this pre-fights.
This came into my head as I walked past the shell that was once Wilkinsons and wondered who will mend the toasters of the Didsbury cognoscenti, too pre-occupied with memorising the words to Frozen whilst wondering if Marc Warner is now passé. There are rumblings in the venue formerly known as “Sweaty Betty’s” but more of that next time.

Wilkinson’s was so last century it passed beyond retro and in its retirement has achieved eulogising status.

So have the pistachio biscuits in Bisou Bisou. The Bisou twins are a civilising force in the village. The layout is so neat, the staff so friendly (ruining French stereotypes in an instant) that even the schoolchildren queuing pre-school regardé et ecouté as though they had found something relevant in a lesson. They will never replace Cafe Rouge in our hearts – for at least another week..
So as the first snowdrops poke their little purple and white heads above the parapet and the eight tulips that have survived the winter fight with plastic toys in our back “garden” to survive through to have the twins rip off their petals here are five clear clues that spring will be coming to Didsbury soon.i

1. Every shop’s cold storage area is stuffed with single roses they hope will last until Mothers Day.

2. The pram and trolley stop outside the Co-Op in the village is being swept ready for the two tables to be displayed, but only used by people waiting for s bus.

3. A quick look at the menu in Costa or Nero reveals some bizarre non-Coffee fruit shoot that will be priced at more than a meal for four in Marks & Spencers

4. There is a schizophrenia on the shelves around the village as Creme Eggs fight for space with bizarre Lego cars in the Shell garage, Easter Eggs and chocolate hearts being scraped of their Love Hearts messages and being prepped for maternal adoration.

5. The week is all Shrove this, Ash that, Simnel the other. I have no idea what a shrove is, but if Bisou Bisou start making them I’m in.

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The New Ikea Family Car does not look promising.

2015/02/img_0520.jpg Didsbury looks great in summer

Elvis Presley, Bisou Bisou, Muhammed Ali and Sweaty Betty’s

“There are contenders, there are pretenders, but there is only one king. Bruce Springsteen said this about Elvis Presley and Muhammed Ali gave life to a version of this pre-fights.
This came into my head as I walked past the shell that was once Wilkinsons and wondered who will mend the toasters of the Didsbury cognoscenti, too pre-occupied with memorising the words to Frozen whilst wondering if Marc Warner is now passé. There are rumblings in the venue formerly known as “Sweaty Betty’s” but more of that next time.

Wilkinson’s was so last century it passed beyond retro and in its retirement has achieved eulogising status.

So have the pistachio biscuits in Bisou Bisou. The Bisou twins are a civilising force in the village. The layout is so neat, the staff so friendly (ruining French stereotypes in an instant) that even the schoolchildren queuing pre-school regardé et ecouté as though they had found something relevant in a lesson. They will never replace Cafe Rouge in our hearts – for at least another week..
So as the first snowdrops poke their little purple and white heads above the parapet and the eight tulips that have survived the winter fight with plastic toys in our back “garden” to survive through to have the twins rip off their petals here are five clear clues that spring will be coming to Didsbury soon.i

1. Every shop’s cold storage area is stuffed with single roses they hope will last until Mothers Day.

2. The pram and trolley stop outside the Co-Op in the village is being swept ready for the two tables to be displayed, but only used by people waiting for s bus.

3. A quick look at the menu in Costa or Nero reveals some bizarre non-Coffee fruit shoot that will be priced at more than a meal for four in Marks & Spencers

4. There is a schizophrenia on the shelves around the village as Creme Eggs fight for space with bizarre Lego cars in the Shell garage, Easter Eggs and chocolate hearts being scraped of their Love Hearts messages and being prepped for maternal adoration.

5. The week is all Shrove this, Ash that, Simnel the other. I have no idea what a shrove is, but if Bisou Bisou start making them I’m in.

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The New Ikea Family Car does not look promising.

2015/02/img_0520.jpg Didsbury looks great in summer

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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Is it Spring Forward, Fall Back or Fall forward, spring back?

This is it. The final, official, scratching the bottom of the pan, stretching it as far as it will go, hope over reality, these jeans still fit honestly, end of summer 2014. Later this week the clocks go back or is it forward? Spring forward, fall back or the other way around? Either way, it gets dark at lunchtime and the sun only comes up Wednesday half-day closing.
This is TV on the couch, jumpers, endless talk of “incubating something” weather. Time to be pressured into creating a perfect Christmas that encompasses the beauty of innocence and the financial clout I have only occasionally achieved in Monopoly.
As my children continue to defy my indifferent parenting skills to be lovely, I look around me and know that before its time to gather at the Cenotaph next month and look at the empty terrace where Cafe Rouge once ruled, The squish of leaves underfoot and the fear of gas bill in my inbox will take hold. There is only one thing to do – plan your treats.

1. For a little male grooming, the wetshave at Blade on School Lane takes some beating, although the military-trained deep massage at G4 Physio I once had was so deep my hamstrings are still undercover.

2. For your take-out morning commute there is now real choice. The coffee and pastries at Bisou Bisou are so good they can’t possibly be every day occurrences. In the village The AiryFairyCupCakeBoutique still know how to dress a sponge for the City Centre tram, whilst West Didsbury has Fusion Deli, consistently great coffee with a welcome to kickstart the day. My jar of Nescafe is now three years old and a sad, unloved, never-to-be-used clump.

3. Notworking: should you be meeting “colleagues” or “freelancing from home” there are many warm welcomes once the decent TV finishes. Café Nero is so child-friendly I can’t go through the door without a Rugrat, but if the free top-ups ’til 11 hold then a Chalk Bar & Grill Flat White can keep itself in adult company. Healthy Spirit (I just had to ask Didsbury Wife what Nature’s Grace is called now) is sooo nice, so boho, so right-on its virtually Chorlton. Art of Tea blends indifferent service into an art and Albert’s is the place for a posh meeting. I go there and pretend its 1989 all over again – well if it’s good enough for the decor its good enough for me.

4. Lunch: The Japan Deli in Withington, opposite The Red Lion. How it survives is a mystery, but the Sushi is stunning and there is never a queue. I find it difficult to take anywhere seriously for lunch that promotes a Scotch Egg as haute cuisine – but sitting alone in The Jade Garden for their business lunch, playing “Name that Tune” is an experience sidestepped by too many.

5. The newbies. Bourbon & Black looks exciting; Croma has queues not seen since the last Gregg’s pastie sale. Solita seems lively and we await news of Sweaty Betty’s. Wine & Wallop looks a goer and Burton Road bulges with indie pride.

These possibilities keep me focused on a 7am park trip with the boddlers; but there is one place where I am beyond the smash of a dropped babychino, the demand for wi-Fi and Hot Chocolate or the call to prayer at John Lewis. It has no windows, no atmosphere and the service is average – but in the cafe at the gym my phone has no signal. There’s a couch where I can slouch and drift off… perfect for a winter’s morning.

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The sushi at Japan Deli is the nearest Didsbury Son is getting to a fish tank this Christmas.

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If you close your eyes it’s like Cibo never existed.

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Looking forward to those beautiful November mornings.

Didsbury Dad, Agony Uncle

I never realised how easy it was raising just Didsbury Son until the Mighty-Headed Boy and The Pearl-Topped Princess turned up. Becoming a new father well over the age of 39 and 364 days exposes the physical scars of a misspent youth very quickly and from elbow to knee I have been in agony most of the time. My sciatic nerve is so pinched it looks like Ann Robinson and 20 months of this qualifies me as an agony uncle.
This week my imaginary inbox has been bulging with questions from soon-to-be, new and confused dads. Remember always do as I say, not as I do – one of the few genuinely useful pieces of advice I have given Didsbury Son.

Dear Didsbury Dad
I am considering a change of career from something mediaish and successful to loafing about as a freelancer once my partner gives birth to twins early next year. What do you think?

Dear I.M Mad
Are you joking? Ideally look for a full-time job which requires you to be away once a week, cancel all social arrangements until 2019 and before Boots relieve you of any spare cash, buy a shed.

Yo DD
As a former something media and occasionally successful something thingy what do you think?

Good Question. Cafe Nero until they are about 14 months for the baby change, the free babychino and the lovely staff; then Cafe Rouge so they can run around.

Mr Dad.
I have three children – 1, 3 and 4 strange names I know, the wife chose them ( courtesy of Ted Robbins). Will the numbness in my left leg and shoulder ever go?

No, but you’ll stop caring.

Dear Mr Dad
Having children of quite different ages and needs how do you make sure that they all know they are equally loved?

How or why? Soon as Didsbury Son finishes the ironing and the car I’ll ask him.

That’s all for this time. If you need more pearls of wisdom leave a comment or contact me through Twitter @DidsburyDadBlog.

The best advice I can give is apologise most days and don’t hold a grudge. That and a hot Pain Au Raisin and Americano from Nero solves most things.

Next week – live blogging from Didsbury Festival.

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The view from my shed

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My parenting video – a taster clip

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