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 “The Hacienda”

Into every rain a little sun may fall

The thing about family life as the parent is that you are hero, villain, unpaid slave and feted emperor(ess), often in the same day, sometimes in the same conversation.
For every matrimonial slight magnifying exponentially as sleep depravation crescendoes, there is that complicit nod, a shared joke with Didsbury Son or a boddler leap and hug.
The scattering of re-imagined objects on the floors, at times a joyful motif for the imagination unspoiled by Cartoon Network – on another day when the Middle C note has been hollered before 5.30, the planets unaligned and the day has gone downhill, it is a sinister coupling of the results of a conspiracy against you to negate all you have done. It is neither. It is just the detritus of a lively house and you are in a trough; with a peak hiding the other side of the Nightgarden.
I have been keeping a list of the little things that have made me happy and sad/angry/paranoid this week. The list, a mundane arrangement of MIS-interpretations, imagined slights and the odd moment of clarity.
If I had read it in a magazine I would have nodded in recognition, distancing myself from the pettier, ignoble side.
However – seeing ideas and behaviours laid out so bluntly is like a plooking back at a teenage diary and suddenly realising that it wasn’t that no one understood your genius, just that most people try to avoid you when you behave like Kevin the Teenager and pout like a trout.

In The Night Garden v The Football Factory

Introducing children to culture early on in their development is important for them to attain the kind of middle-class snobbery that make X-Factor, Jeremy Kyle and popcorn such guilty pleasures. Didsbury Son was scared by a number of clowns and bored by theatre early on; the scars should open nicely later in life.

Thus today, the Mighty-Headed boy and The Pearly Princess made their theatrical debut; In The Night Garden Live at The Trafford Centre’s Showdome. It was a combination of Shakespeare, Siegfried and Roy and Cirque du Soleil and as we cheered, laughed and cried… Iggle Piggle found his blanket before the smell of filled nappy and Aptamil overwhelmed the space.

The lead-up had been tricky. I am a keen supporter of Arts and Culture (it’s paid the mortgage occasionally) and this week my diverse cultural tastes collided. The week had begun with the start of the football season. I engaged the frame of mind needed to cope with dodgy backstreets , testosterone rushes and the need to swear whilst singing in sync with the other 4000 former thirty-somethings pretending they hadn’t pleaded to get a pass-out.

This successful night out bled into plans for the big In The Night Garden day. I sat the twins down to remind them that even if the whole presenting team from Milkshake, riding Thomas the Tank Engine and led by Peppa Pig fronted us up – we never run (my knee is way past that), for today we are CBeebies.

When I received a text telling me I could meet Iggle Piggle and Macca Pacca afterwards I got all Danny Dyer and had halfway filled a sock with plastic building bricks when Didsbury Wife stopped me.

I came to my senses. The Tombliboos won 2-0 (although all that scratching noses and sitting on the floor saw them cautioned for time-wasting) and we got a police escort back to the car.

The play was brilliantly conceived. It was big and friendly and it’s audience was enchanted. This was a lovely escape back to gentleness for an hour. My pearly girl stared open-mouthed at the gigantic figures. She believed this world in a way that removed all adult cynicism and restored a little magic bubble to a week when the real world has sometimes seemed so harsh, the news so bleak – that even the 6am charge across the landing shouting “Daddy Mummy” seemed in danger.

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The urge to shout “Behind You” was overwhelming.

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Thankfully this was a fiercely partisan crowd, although several infants were ejected for starting anti-Balamory chants

Welcome to Miami

So there I was, South Beach, Miami. Weekend, Wedding Anniversary, not too stiff around knee joints and golfer’s elbow receding. I had a double room with A/C (a big fan) and a fridge and a car bigger then my first flat (apartment). Last time I had been on Collins Avenue Clinton was president, I had sipped a jug of Mojito on Ocean Drive and partied until it was time for breakfast burgers on the beach, washed down with another jug of Mojito. Hello Miami. Will Smith ringing in my ears, things the local uniform. Didsbury Daddy is home, then I realised… South Beach with The WotWots (see the clip if the reference means nothing) and the  burgeoning teendom of Didsbury Son is a physical, moral, financial and logistical pit with all the sense of going for a day out on a boat in Florida without sun cream or nappies. I apologise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VujjtKYUEiA

They say you should never go back. I say you should never go back without understanding the difference between single and feckless and six suitcases, two car seats and a buggy.

Our visit to one of Ocean Drive’s most prestigious cafés was instigated by a nappy so full we thought we had triplets, late night shopping on Collins Avenue was superb as were the mosquito bites we took back with us and Our night on the town was a picnic on the bed and hotel room disco followed by extended choruses of “If you’re happy and you know it..”

Actually, this was a highlight. A belly-laughing, life enhancing night that ended with me as a trampoline for all three of the ankle biters. This was off-set by then having my phone lifted whilst I changed the pearly princess at a Mall so huge it made The Trafford Centre seem like a pleasant shopping centre. I had also forgotten that in America if someone stops to let you push the buggy through a door they expect a tip.
When we had cruised into Miami in our rented Toyota Suburbia, an accelerator and clutch free monstrosity more boring than baseball, the mismatch of family and party town dawned. As I lay there at 4am soothing babies to the backdrop of fidgit house, Spanish shouted at full volume and bowel-loosening bass I found myself pining for our toddler unfriendly apartment and easy bedtimes at Key Largo…

I fell in love with Little Havana – but not one of the children would share a cigar. Little Havana was the only place that had great coffee and ice cream and the feel of something culturally vibrant. Miami was things and tattoos. Didsbury Son loved it.

Next time: the essential and ultimate guide to how to travel, holiday and keep your joints oiled with a toddler-teenage collective.

My Miami top tips
1. The apples at The President Hotel on Collins Avenue kept the boddlers busy for hours.
2. The changing facilities at Central Station; worth paying $3 for water.
3. The Walgreens on Collins/5th open until 10pm.
4. The chicken tenders at Publix supermarket, very reasonable.
5. The bus tour, but not for the under 2s

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Didsbury Son and the twins take in Miami

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Miami wasn’t as colourful as I had remembered

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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

10 Ways Becoming a dad changes everything

There are more than 10, most are quite dull but some surprise me. When I first became a Didsbury Dad (well once I’d had coffee, flavoured vodka and some kind of olive oil based poncey bread) a few things clicked into place.

In her just published novel “Animals” (which is superb), Emma Jane Unsworth has a character whose response to a close friend’s pregnancy is “… Another one lost for a decade”. I read this, gulped and nodded in recognition. I have friends who, in my mind are at the end of a phone knowing I’m swamped, happy and knackered. In reality they have scrubbed me off all lists as the ignorant one who dumped them once he had kids. This mirrors my pre-Didsbury Dad thoughts. How busy, tired, obsessed, sappy and dull can you be for a small screaming ankle biter who removes the opportunity for the epicurean nature on which you have thrived? The answer is personal.

1. A big night out: after bath time, I popped out for an early drink at the Fletcher Moss and delayed bedtime until after 7.30 PM.

2. A really big night out: you get a babysitter (double rate for twins) and after the second drink you realise you are exhausted, have little adult conversation and are really wondering if the babysitter would watch the boddlers if you came home and grabbed a couple of hours un-disturbed sleep.

3. An allnighter: the milk, dummy, singing, rocking and Calpol have all failed and you are watching repeats of Columbo whilst reading Incy Wincy Spider on a five minute rotation to a wired boddlers crying and laughing like a prom-night teenager.

4. You go to Boots for creams and lotions, none of them are for pleasure – all of them are medically based.

5. That tune that won’t leave your head. It’s not the one that brought the night to a crescendo – it’s 64 Zoo Lane and you cannot stop humming.

6. You still look lovingly at your partner and think “I hope they are in the mood for an early night” but you mean will you let me go to bed and go in the spare room so I’m not disturbed.

7. You fill up watching One Born Every Minute

8. You suddenly realise how see-through kids are and how much more patient your own Didsbury Dad was.

9. Staying in is the new going out.

10. You start to have opinions about things you have never cared about. Last week there was a seismic shift. The actual topic is irrelevant, it was what it meant. We were watching Master Chef (Big Bang Theory for adults) and Didsbury Wife asked me what I was thinking. All men know that this is normally a cause for concern as you are either thinking about nothing, football, nothing, somebody inappropriate, nothing, whether Eddie Murphy was convincing in “Coming to America” or nothing.
Without pause I was able to share my ideas around a child development issue. Halfway through my speech the enormity of this hit me and I asked for an early night.

Iggle Piggle Saves A Big Night Out

At a sophisticated soirée we went to last week we covered all the current serious topics. Mandela’s legacy, Syria and Breaking Bad.

As the Co -Op Prosecco flowed, we nodded sagely and spouted Guardian editorials. It could only have been duller had I been forced to feign interest in The Ashes or we had got onto smacking, acceptable or not.

The first time I was dragged into this room splitter I misheard the start and thought we were discussing snacking. It made for an awkward evening.

As Didsbury Wife and I counted the minutes until we could go home, this promised to be more disappointing than the first half of Homeland series 3 until…

Conversation turned towards the power of In the Night Garden. I have long admired Derek Jacobi’s work – apart from the thing with Gandalf but ITNG is sublime. The drama of the reveal, Ninky or Pinky? The utter joy of the Tombliboos, the slight unease about Macca Pacca. Why the trike and is that thing on his back a Haemorrhoid?

This discussion led to a sing song and joy all around. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but one day those Pontipine kids may suffer for sharing a room with their seven siblings and their parents.

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Princess Zelda or a crate of Prosecco? The ultimate parental dilemma. Empty seats, always visually interesting

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.
And…
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

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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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