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 “US President James Madison”

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. 

Home is not just a cinema or the church cafe

. When Felicini’s became the Mudflap cafe I nearly cried. It’s glossy black sign and euphemistic name was a part of my history and stood proudly in the same giggling pointlessness of changing The Cheese Hamlet to Helmet. Now, with the stripped back wood still settling in to Gregg’s and an eviscerated Inman’s being re-imagined as Thai favourite The Chilli Banana I am almost out of my depth.
felicinsmud-crabfutureistic-pic evolution
At least it’s only 8 months until Didsbury Festival returns in its usual format – unchanged since Bonnie Prince Charlie led the procession, which featured the 88th Scouts.
This is Didsbury. A wheel turning and creating new identities – including cash converting, laser surgery, fifteen diet clubs and an ever growing coterie of Pet Grooming services. Only 86% of trading premises in Didsbury serve coffee, 71% cut hair (human or canine). Didsbury Library is a portal to 1973. I go there when I only have tuppence ha’penny and need a cup of tea (coffee not being invented until The Premier League started in 1992).
The other big news is that Didsbury Dad Towers is no longer in Didsbury. We are now a castle, a Didsbury Diaspora outpost.
In a year that has seen us cough up more in Stamp Duty than the national debt we have moved twice. First out of the village to near the river and now, out of town.
We have moved so far away that we are the cultural diversity. It’s a city, it’s semi-rural and it’s not Didsbury.
So I am part-time Didsbury Dad. I am still working in my capacity as Meeja Luvvie doing something non-specific in MediaCity – but only weekdays.
It is strange. All Didsbury Son has known is Didsbury. My life with Didsbury Wife has been played out to the backdrop of Piccolino and Barlowmoor Road. The Mighty Headed Boy and the Pearly Princess are Harriet & Dee. But. We have begun to sever the link for a period of time.
It’s only been a few weeks and it’s still a bit like being on holiday. It does make you realise how easy it can be living somewhere that is the edge of the metropolis, has travel options to envy and it’s all in walking distance.
It’s early days yet. I have had to develop a whole new rhythm to each day. I am a little lost without my morning fix of Pete, Tom and Claire at Fusion Deli after a cheery wave from Darren at Delia’s Florist. There is no Piccolino, Bisous Bisous, St. James & Emmanuel and I don’t know everyone.
This has great advantages. When I get my Fusion fix the coffee tastes great and I have stories to share. I now know just how good New Peking House is and sometimes the anonymity is liberating.
I think I will always be a Didsbury Dad wherever we live. My Gamma Male, liberal approach to life on the Focaccia line is settled. We may be away for a short time or for good, not decided yet. But Didsbury Wife, Son and I are M20 raised and made and know the difference between a good idea and some of the money pit no chances that we’ve seen trying to cash in on the perceived wealth in Didsbury.
The boddlers are still confused. On Saturday, as we perused the rolling hills and unfamiliar accents that surround us, they clamoured for the sweet shop on Dene Road. As we walked through the Metrolinkless roads they wondered where all the Magic Buses were.
Starting from scratch after a life in the subsidised suburban bliss of M20 is exciting. But I think we’ll be coming regularly. It’s not just home, a river runs through it.

A Brief History of Time (With Snacks)

Is it autumn already. Everyone went back to school and brought home brand new infections. Last week we had summer, winter and storms so vicious Facebook asked me to confirm I was safe. Safe? This is The North. I sent the children out to chase the lightning and see if there were reductions on any rain-damaged produce around the city. Staff at Fletcher Moss dress up for “Bring Your Kids to Work” day. 

The nights have drawn in. I don’t know what “drawn in” means. Certainly not coloured in. The boddlers are back to waking up in the dark. Didsbury Son’s teenage retreat to his room now has the cover of darkness and Didsbury Wife is eyeing up the central heating and (breathes out) Match of the Day is back. 

Didsbury continues to evolve quickly and sometimes surprisingly. Those old enough to remember 2014 (we were part of Europe, Scotland was part of the UK and BBC owned Great British Bake-Off) will recall the shock as Co-Op rebranded, toyed with the idea of being called Copo and even had tables outside for a couple of weeks. These primarily provided easy dog lead tying and Big Issue displaying opportunities. 

Now Greggs are following suit. On Saturday 8 October it bursts out from the shadow of 3 Little Pigs and Toni & Guy as a new “Artisan” Greggs. With Bisou Bisou’s bespoke Gallic beauty and Casa Italia’s specialist nosh this could be a disaster waiting to happen (Or a “Nido” as we call it). Is the Gregg’s Sausage Roll about to become a herb-infused Wild Boar Empanadas? Are the staff getting polo necks? Time will tell. 

Picture courtesy of @craftwords

There’s more. The MMU site has developed from desolate to building site via a short stint as a Caravan Park. This is going to bring an awful lot of middle-class professionals and relocating aspirational suburbanites to Didsbury. How will they ever fit in? 
Elders foretell of the great Manchester Storm of 2016.

The roads into the centre of the village become ever more blocked. Nero and Costa’s Red and Blue bookending of the village now makes them seem like old, established family businesses. 

The beard epidemic which spread (it’s an apparently chin-borne virus) has now infected the majority of Didsbury’s under 30 males. This is how they look to me. 

but I still think a mullet looks good. 

But this is M20. Autumn is arguably our most beautiful time of year. Fletcher Moss and the leafy streets lend themselves to the change in light. The shops may change, the make of car parked across your road at school time may change but… there will always be Axons, Evans and The Cheese Hamlet and someone smoking a ciggie outside The Nelson. 

Postcard from Murcia 1/4 – Sexy Beast

The great thing about family holidays with teenagers, tantrums and a pool are that by the time the tan fades, so does the memory of the arguments, meltdowns over sun cream, mosquito bites and that moment I just had when you squint down through sweat covered eyes and realise that although in your head you are a David Beckham 40, without the tattoos and with body hair, you are not in fact breathing out and it’s all you.   Not David Beckham

This is bliss. Actually in my head I am now Ray Winstone in the Opening scene of Sexy Beast. Didsbury Son has sloped off to his lair, Didsbury Wife and the Pearly Princess sleep coiled like beautiful cat and kitten under a fan in the bedroom and the Mighty Headed Boy has finally conked out on the couch. It is hot. 

  

 Acclaim for my Ray Winstone references 
I am alone. An hour of solitude, but for cicadas and the distant hum of the Mar Menor. My balcony is not overlooked and is split equally between 90 degree sun and cool shade. This is Didsbury Dad bliss. A tummy full of Navajos, a cool drink of water next to me and no Wi-Fi so I can’t stress about anything outside of my sweaty and happy bubble. I am Ray Winstone and I have had the privelige of doing something for the last 30 minutes that I have not done since before I became a Didsbury Dad; nothing.

IMG_0083What is going through my mind right now
I have not thought of anything constructive. I have not made plans, read emails, considered local or global conundrums. I have not tidied, folded the washing or read a book. I have spent the time staring and sweating happily. Now the blog’s written it’s back to the abyss. 

Things Ain’t What They Used To Be

How times change. Didsbury Son is a fan of all things Japanese and has decided to master the art of healthy, precise Japanese cooking. Being a supportive Didsbury Dad I tried to convince him that the Admiral’s Pie was named after Admiral Pikachu, Japan’s greatest imaginary sailor and that mashed potato is the original sushi. 

He didn’t believe me, saying I was about as convincing as David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (if you get that reference you are older than you think).
So, as night fell and the rain lashed our early spring we set out to find Nori – travelling through Upper Brook Street, China Town and Oldham Road in search of a Japanese-food selling supermarket open after 8pm. There weren’t any… But M20’s Japan Deli saved the day. I digress.
This trip through the night time centre of the city took me back to my pre-Didsbury Dad days when I lived, thrived, worked and shaped the beating heart of our cultural landscape (bear with me).
The buildings and the city are very different. They are now a Turkish supermarket, a museum, soon to be a restaurant and various other venues, some now flats, done flattened. It made me realise that even the terminology that shapes my life now has altered meaning:
Large-ing it – once a night out, now a call for more wipes as The Mighty-Headed boy has overfilled a nappy. 
Going for an early night – once a euphemism. “She asked me for a euphemism, so I gave her one” now a plea to go into bed alone and not be disturbed.
Loadsamoney – waving your wad from your cash in hand was so satisfying. Now it describes the nursery bill, the food bill, the repairing my iPad screen on a weekly basis bill etc.
Top One, Nice One, Sorted: Calpol, pre-Nursery nappy, the sock pile
Saturday Morning Lie-In: It’s 6.45am and after an hour of head-butting, being kicked like Vinnie Jones and asked for milk, biscuits and Dora you give in and get up. 
A cab home from a night out – I await my instructions as to what time I am to be summoned to drive home Didsbury Son and his mute accomplices. 
As we drove back. I looked at the lights twinkling and one thought filled my mind – is sciatica fashionable?

Inman’s, The Doomesday Book and Regeneration

According to The Times, Didsbury is in Britain’s Top 25 suburbs. We are apparently more “real”, “less expensive” than the twin delights of Hale and Bowden (Red House Farm and the M56). They may have the footballers, but we have the real wives of Didsbury; they go to the match. 

When City first won the Premier League the street party featured reds, blues, inbetweeners and those that don’t care. Likewise, when the other teams from the region do well we are occasionally roused.

Didsbury regenerates. Cibo and Nido are now just fading memories, like a bad date where you came out of the toilet unzipped with tissue paper on your shoe. But other places leave a mark. 
It is lovely to see Broadbents taking on the mantle, but Wilkinsons will not be forgotten and now, the sad but inevitable news that Inmans on Lapwing Lane is going to close.
Josie, straight here from La Coruna, has welcomed four generations of families. My Didsbury Grandpa took me for Shoot comic when I was a toddler (the sweet shop, selling halfpenny chews is now Didsbury Noodle) and The Mighty Headed Boy/Princess Pearly Alliance have had their first Peppa Pig comics brought there. It is a rite of passage for Didsbury children.
Josie is now a grandmother and still the welcoming face of Inmans and after over 900 years in the same location it closes in April. Rumour has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men, escaping back to Scotland, sneaked past Prince Rupert’s troops camped by the library and brought Werthers, a funny Birthday Card and something to read for the journey north at “Inemannes, a most favourable, but pricey stop”.
Rumours are rife of it becoming a Costa but the Whitbreadification of Lapwing Lane is unlikely.
The three inside tips bidding I have heard of are… A Cage Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts Centre, a Waitrose (pretty please) or a Petting Zoo. However this is Didsbury and my money is on a hairdresser or an Estate Agent. 
So my Didsbury Children will not be able to harangue me for novelty pens and expensive stationary here. Pete at Fusion will need a new paper supplier and I will have to find another trigger to remind when I need to buy cards for Jewish Festivals. Worst of all, I can’t swap baby pictures with Josie on the way to work.
I’ve only just got over Woolworths.  

 

inman’s first book display

   

 Pictures of the first uniforms worn by Inman’s staff are rare – but in this an early manageress celebrates the signing of the Magna Carta (copies were available at 1 groat).

Didsbury’s Pickled Egg Revolution

Hola Didsbury – the newbies are coming. 

Last night, whilst perched between The Mighty Headed Boy, the furry cast of Frozen, blankie and pillow (this week’s must haves) I began thinking about Didsbury Village. What do we need? A really good children’s clothes shop to add to Bond and replace Hippins? A Waitrose (yes)? A hardware shop or suchlike. No no no. What we need is either Emmanuel Church to install a Costa Coffee Machine to finish Feng Shui-ing the village’s coffee offering or a hairdresser.
It has been weeks since Squires evolved from the chrysalis of Gentry Grooming. Weeks without a new hairdresser, barber, coffee shop or Estate Agent. Thank you Lord for answering our prayers as Sweaty Betty’s – 70s chip shop, 90s fly posting frontage and around a year a building site is Didsbury’s first day spa and 136th hairdresser.
I carried out a scientific study (I.e asked Didsbury Wife and Didsbury Mother), they told me to get back to work. Are we particularly hairy in M20? Does our testosterone fuelled manliness push the hair out quicker? Are our woman more coiffed? 
Or is it that these barbers and hairdressers are a front for a secret supernatural sect or a Stone Roses tribute band? After all, we have Blade and John (runs) Squire(s). 
I am pointlessly delighted that Wilkinsons is still painted blue and looks like it could fill the gap left by the loss several years ago of The Village Saver. A quick peek means it could be a mini Woolworths replacement for the boddlers and a decent diversion to relieve teenage moodiness. 
I’m looking forward to seeing if the new day spa honours its chip shop heritage. The day we can book in for a hot pickled egg massage, an intense curry sauce wrap and chips (not fries) with salt and sarsons not balsamic, is a day to be lauded. 



Tools of the trade for the New Sweaty Betty Spa

Broadbents – is there room for a Costa Coffee machine in there?

Teenage Kicks, So Hard to Beat

I am perched on the end of a single bed. Only one put-upon hip and a curled toe are keeping me from falling, whilst The Mighty-Headed boy, spread out across the sheets like a spatchcock hen drifts into a post-milk, post-park afternoon nap to dream of life-sized Frozen jigsaws made of chocolate. I digress.

I have been working away recently. Time in a plush, fully-catered hotel and spa with a bed three pillows wide turned down at 7pm and laced with a chocolate mint; just for me. Whilst the ability to concentrate and give my knees and elbows recuperation time between kamikaze leaps from stairs and cars is welcomed. Whilst going to the bathroom without an audience shouting “bye bye wee” helps one focus and whilst time to gain perspective is always positive, I am now ruined.
Not only did I still wake at 3, 4 and 5 anyway, I found not having my eyelids prized open by little fingers, whilst being slapped by Olaf from Frozen made the start to the day a little dull. Not having to heat milk and make tea with circling cats and caterwauling rugrats felt like the challenge was gone. But, weirdly – what I missed most was the mood roulette of the now teenage, but still lovely Didsbury Son.

Face Time is a good substitute. In half a dozen chats across the ether we moved from Surly, to happy and through the whole seven dwarves and back to thumper via Bambi.

What struck me was that however cool, laid back, media savvy or in-touch we think we are, no one over the age of 25 (Doh, just missed it by a couple of decades ish) remembers the stress-led, hormone-fuelled, peer-panicked immediacy of being a teenager.

When Didsbury Son played up or got riled previously I would patronisingly tell Didsbury Wife how I understood it, as I had lived it. Teenage is different. He is no Kevin, no trouble and primarily easygoing and helpful; but a 7.30 FaceTime explaining that there was no point going to school, no point eating, no point speaking (weirdly not no point spending hours online watching super geeks play Minecraft) was followed, one pensive flight home later – by a chirpy greeting after a great day at school. No point? I was SO hours ago.

I forgot how crushing the merest hint of rebuttal can be to the evolving teenage psyche, the constant life ruination by parents who just “don’t understand” and the unpredictability of voice breaking, spot count and face colour when speaking to girls.

It cheered me up. Watching the joy and torment from the outside reminds me that creaky joints and indigestion after late night snacks are not only easier to deal with – the best bit about being 39 and a lot is not really caring that much about anything beyond your family bubble… And football.

Teenage Kicks – The Undertones

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This is what a teenage brain looks like whilst thinking.

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I missed being kicked all night when this was mine only.

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.

Stoptober, The War on Drugs and Groupon

Stoptober; lovely idea. 260000 people still daring and rich enough to smoke have signed up. Good on them. Of all the habits I have started and stopped it was by far the most difficult to end (seconded closely by visits to the Kool Runnings Caribbean Food Van on Upper Chorlton Road). However, something in me feels we should be allowed the freedom to choose. The ALS Ice-bucket challenge, another wonderful money raising, cause-highlighting affair that also made me feel uncomfortable. (The peanuts have been removed from Revels, ruining my favourite joke about Revels being Russian Roulette for but allergists, one gag probably not worth the risk but it’s put me off Revels). It’s not the cold water in the ice-bucket challenge – just the feeling of generic naffness, the idea of being told what to do makes me feel like posting a cynical retort – which I know is probably wrong.
Stoptober has me thinking of 10 Silk Cut for £1, Movember has me up early to shave and I now get so many Just Giving requests that they proliferate my inbox like Groupon and their worthiness undoes my innate Northern outsiderness.
A friend once set-up a Justgiving page to announce that they were doing nothing. I donated immediately. I like my causes and donate, I am a FOLLA (a Friend of Lapwing Lane Arcade), I can be coerced during the later, more receptive stages of most telethons and of course am now an easy touch for anything with children, but…
It must be a generational thing. I am old enough to have met all my friends. I overshare sometimes on Social Media. This week is National Champagne Week ( c’mon Primary Schools – that’s a theme day parents would buy into), it’s National Hug Day and Tuesday marks 32 years since Ronald Reagan declared the first U.S. War on Drugs – how did that work out?

We have Silly Hat Day at home and that can lead to controversy if the twins go for the same beanie cap. I think as profile raising, marketing exercises these nannying call to arms are wonderful. As ways to coerce people into contributing to things in which they may not believe – even better; they remind me of Halloween. I am all Parkin and Bonfire night

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A double rainbow. Donate now for a third

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