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 tag “80s”

Part Two – A Time of Darkness

I have only been a part-time Didsbury boy for the last year. My knowledge of the emergence of such misspellings as B.lend are gained from occasional forays, texts from Craftwords and missives from my own Didsbury Mum.

A Hipster

We briefly had a Tapas Mile thing going on but the demise (let’s be honest, it wasn’t very good) of Cantina set me thinking about the fallen. Not the brave soldiers but the crap ideas and donkeys that have failed to launch on our sceptred streets.

the original MOod board for Cau’s development.

There are urbane myths about Didsbury. But look closely at what has survived. The two places that have seen off all the others (since The Happy Garden realised that 6 months without a customer meant it was probably time to close) are Kansas Fried Chicken and Saints & Scholars. They have seen off Japanese Fusion, noncy Med-Fed and everyone else. Saints & Scholars reminds me of Bez. I have no idea why or how, but still good value.

Controversial plans for the new development on the site of Didsbury Police Station.

What of those who have tried and failed since The Didsbury Village Wine Bar closed its walled garden to become Felicini’s,The Mudflap Cafe and finally a symbol representing Daoist Philosophy and Buttermilk soaked Fried Chicken?

A shot southwards down Wilmslow Road from the 70s

Cau sits on an ancient Burial Ground. Here was briefly parked Zinc, some gangster-inspired Japanese disaster with bling that died a death, The Clocktower and a growing Orange Tree.

I couldn’t go in the Orange Tree. It’s townie focused glitz replaced The Old Grey Horse, a legendary hangout full of edge, promise and most of my friends. Legend has it that it’s predecessor, The Cavalcade (whose signage I can still picture) was more avant than an Edemame Milshake.

Trees don’t do that well here, as The Pear Tree folk will tell you. Bourbon & Black was no Didsbury Tapas. In fact it was no Kansas Fried Chicken. But who else remembers when Didsbury had its own KFC? Before that became the Ho Wah and now The Laughing Buddha.

On the block with KFC was Sykes’ Records, where Terry introduced a generation of Didsbury kids to Top of the Pops, Namaste Village and round the corner, Razma Reads.

Razma was a lovely concept. Think of Dot’s cafe in the park with a bookshop. The rise of Amazon killed it.

And no troll through the dead diners of Didsbury Village could forget Pizza Hut, so hip when it opened in the mid 80s, Chalk – whose staff were kitten hipped but whose speciality was… was… no idea and finally.

The greatest tax right-off/failure of them all, Nido – where each customer had their own waiter.

** no actual books, websites, people or anything else was researched during the writing of this blog.

Call Centre Hell

I have always been an early adopter. In the 70s at junior school I dressed in hats that Elton John would bring to the stage later that decade. In the 80s I pioneered wearing full New Romantic make-up to football games without getting battered and co-promoted 808 State in a Discoteque. I helped bring poetry into the digital age and had a beard when your average Chorlton Hipster still thought McFly were… Fly.

Anyway it’s happened again. I am Victor Meldrew a decade and a half early. I hate it, but it’s true. The disappointment of my first genuinely middle-aged tantrum could see me dig out the Henry Root letters for inspiration. 

 A rant

People love to tell you how moving into a house is just the start of the hard work. They are right. It’s not the unpacking, the boxes, the door handles that have broken at the sight of a toddler or the papier mache wall consistency in the one room you forgot to check. All of these make chatting with an Estate Agent seem easy compared to my new hell. 

The most difficult aspect of moving is dealing with the underpaid, badly-informed, uneducated, uncaring, script driven donkeys whose lack of customer service skills, knowledge of their own companies and ability to have an unscripted conversation is so frustrating I found myself shouting “I don’t believe it” just to remind myself I shouldn’t be taking it so seriously. 

 not a picture of a manager at a call centre for a major broadcaster

In a week when events in Brussels have once again shown an awful disdain for life, born from too much conviction channelled down a negative path, perhaps I should welcome the indifference of Generation Y. 

 Talking to one particularly annoying operative in Virgin “Media’s” Glasgow outpost I had two thoughts. 1) I bet Usain Bolt doesn’t get put on hold for 14 minutes. 2) only by threatening to turn off the Wi-Fi could I get a response. Then I remembered – that is why I had called. 

 After days and days of fruitless, pointless calls with Virgin, BT and other less labyrinthine organisations I actually love Axa. At least they are polite and coherent as they tell you they can’t help. 
My denouement was the almost delivery of toddler beds. I’m off work with my version of a war wound. I received a text so specific it said to be available from 12.34 to 3.34pm. At Midday precisely I set off on the 7 minute trek to the village; sated by the Face-to-Face 4 minute experience of Mailboxes I returned. So Mildrew-like have I become I even checked the time as I approached Didsbury Dad Haven; 12.18 cushty.
At 2.26 I went for a mooch and saw a card by the front door from XPD with a “Called at 12.18”. Genuinely, over the next half hour of arguing with ever senior staff (I think my final palm off was almost 22) I thought I might explode with a rage I cannot ever recall having against another living being. (I’ve just remembered someone beginning with R from 1987). 
The best I managed was some slightly patronising takedowns of his argument. I felt like Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You retreating to fustiness when realising he was beaten. The leap to instant defensive aggression, followed by scripted repetition was too much to bear.  
So I await tomorrow’s timeslot armed with the information that I need to give it 30 minutes, not 16 either side of the timeslot as apparently I don’t know how logistics work. He was right, but I know it’s not spelled with a J in the middle.  

 Calm place, calm place. Any parent coordinating breakfast on a school/nursery day could have a go at the flight pattern over Heathrow let alone getting a van to a house in a 3-hour window. 

The Darkside of Destiny and Didsbury

It’s 20 years this June since the Manchester bomb. 15th June, a date imprinted on personal, professional and collective psyche for many reasons. England beat Scotland 2-0 – I never saw it. One of my closest friends got married – I had to miss it. A live event I had spent nearly a year planning was due in Castlefield Arena that night – it never happened. In my media-luvvy, Mr Manchester days it was big and memorable for none of the reasons I imagined. This blog is not about the bomb, the city or its aftermath. It’s about organisation.
We put the gig on four days later and 8000 people turned up. In my pre-Daddy days when it was only viewers, listeners or punters who interested me I loved to organise. On grass, in squares, basements, on screen or via audio I produced, promoted, presented and am proud to have negotiated and organised Babel-Esque crews. Yet no series, festival or Hitman & Her Under 18s Disco could prepare me for moving house and dealing with a certain Estate Agent (not purple) 

 insert name here

We are now “in”. We finally have a garden, a little bit more space and anxious cats locked in an unfamiliar kitchen. It still feels as though we are in a holiday let. It feels big but is currently cluttered with boxes. We don’t quite know how anything works, we’ve broken several things and the new bathroom seems exotic.  

 Cats love change

Didsbury Son is happy and the twins chase and play, relishing the space and the den/hide and seek opportunities of two floors crammed with boxes. 

I’m now not sure about leaving or staying in Europe, it seems a lot of hassle. Moving half a mile and staying in Didsbury has been so traumatic that I doubt myself in ways a teenager at a house party would find impressive.

When we actually met the lovely people whose house we were buying they weren’t the snarling, hate-filled and impatient harpies we had been led to expect by the estate agent and the process; they were reasonable and seemed equally relieved that we weren’t looking for £10 discount because the forecast was for snow in March. We shook hands, swapped keys, exchanged pleasantries and we both had Good Luck cards to give. 

There were moments during the move when I felt I was in an 80s Estate Agents’ sitcom. When I say moments I mean October to End of February inclusive. They vied for least professional, most aggressive contact. If I wasn’t sure about whether or not it was libellous I might use terms such as “pointlessly aggressive”, “unhelpful to the point of obstructive” and “undermining, know-it-all unable to grasp the basics of customer service. “; but I won’t as I am sure they have families who they love and love them. 

So we are here. Didsbury Dad Towers was emptied and Didsbury Son skipped out happily, building the boddlers a great snowman in our… Garden. 
We already miss our old neighbours, but have met some new fellow Didsbury Dads, Wives, Sons, Daughters and others. The house still smells strange, the scent of other lives receding as the overpowering smell of Lynx and used Cat Litter takes over.

My saviour was the process of moving. I was finally able to organise, coordinate and back time. This cathartic day in February expunged the previous four months and we arrived on time and on budget. 

I realise that talk of apprenticeships and psychometric testing are overrated in preparation compared to the attritional, money-leaching, strength-sapping process of house buying in Didsbury.  
 Classy times never fade. 

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