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 “Christmas”

This Much I Don’t Understand

This much I don’t understand.I’m willing to admit I’m no longer in my 30s. In fact as I really left my 30s the idea of us looking back fondly at a Con-Lib coalition government because it wasn’t as craven or desperate as the current government, ludicrous. The only Clegg I knew was in Last of the Summer Wine. 
The notion of a British number 1 tennis player and Leicester City’s league win being eclipsed by the vulgarity, racism and lynch mob mentality of our exit from the Europe and even that not being the biggest story of the year… mind boggling*. It’s hardly surprising then, that even the transformation of Greggs on Wilmslow Road  from stand-up sandwich shop to sit down McDonalds decor, sorry McArtisan decor raised barely a murmur. From Bowie to Murray to Aleppo it’s all been jaw on the floor material this year.unemployed with small children, spare a thought for him.

* I don’t really know what boggling means. 

Mind you. As I really left my 30s the notion that Didsbury Son would be taller than me and use Lynx was also unbelievable. So, as we enter the final chapter of a year when “Liar, liar, pants are on fire.” Has been appropriated as the shout of the mob eulogising their leaders, this much I no longer understand.50s to 5s in one easy vote

1. Brexit means Brexit. At the end of the day (which also means.. ummm, nothing.) Brexit is a portmanteau. It sounds a bit like Brisket and for all it actually means we may as well add gate on the end to make it sound interesting. I only found out what portmanteau meant by googling it. Ying Tong yiddle i Po means Ying Tong Yiddle I Po, Brexit means Brexit. I’m none the wiser. I peaked at no means no. 

2. People who read The Daily Mail and think it’s warping influence is less corrosive than nasty porn to a teenager. In fact people who read The Daily Mail by choice. 

3. What’s happened in Coronation Street. Whilst visiting my own Didsbury Dad it was on with such volume that the neighbours had their own sound off so they could hear clearly. I last tuned in about a month ago but the whole programme seems to be based on each character simultaneously living four lives. I then found out Phil Mitchell is still in Eastenders. Hasn’t he died several times? Are the soaps now reincarnating characters until they attain Nirvana? 

4. How Saints & Scholars survives, although I’m glad it does. 

5. Twenty somethings with full beards and checked shirts. I still don’t get it. Irony imitating life. I know recent transatlantic political moves have made many people look towards Canada but is this an attempt recreate Alberta between Chorlton and West Didsbury?

6. Why 808 State and MC Buzz B aren’t still massive. 

7. Bros making a comeback and selling out in seconds. Bros are back 

Right, that’s the bah humbug out of the way – ready for some Christmas cheer next. 

A Christmas Navel Gaze

As the elves begin their final checks, the reindeer carb up for the journey and Jose Mourinho ponders the failure of his own messianic second coming I have been thinking about Didsbury Dad Towers as we prep for the latest sugar rush and present heist.

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Dinner for four or magnificent carriage – you decide

The Mighty Headed Boy is already beside himself with excitement; he’s only beside himself as the weight of expectation he carries needs two little boys. The birthday was great. Halloween’s premise of wearing a costume for sweets from strangers magnificent but this? Christmas, off the back of Chanucah and its chocolate coins is almost too good to be true.
Every night the Advent chocolate fairy leaves him a pre-breakfast treat. One night he tried a chocolate under his pillow to see if the tooth fairy would leave him a tooth. Then, some fat bloke and his deer pop in with presents. He is a convert and a zealot and already has his eyes on the Christingle orange that the St. James & Emmanuel elves are currently making.

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No particular reason – just love this photo

Whilst he promenades his joy and sings carols with gusto, the Pearly Princess is more measured – not quite sure why this is happening but savvy enough to know that lights in the house, late nights out with kisses and presents is a good gig not to be messed with.

We are the inbetweeners. The twins are not sure what’s going on but have essentially worked out that Eid and Chanucah are the warm up act in their lives for Santa Claus telling Father Christmas that his baby reindeer needs a stable to watch Cinderella on UK Gold; simple.

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Sadly for The Archers, The Grundy’s turkeys had not thought through their escape plan properly.

Didsbury Son is inbetween childhood excitement and grown up enjoyment. Anxious about the presents being right, practising indifference but keen to be key to the party. Fourteen is the awkward age. My little blondini squeaking his excitement at the wonderland of Christmas Day is still in there, suppressed by Lynx and Hormones. The teenage fight for independence is also keen for a bigger part and the magic of the season is going to have to put in a good shift.

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The poultry and fowl against Christmas scout keeps an eye out for trouble

Next year will see raised consciousness all around so this is probably the last year for a decade we can get away with kiddie fob offs and a lie in until 5.45 when The Mighty Headed Boy, like Chris Eubank in his prime, announces his presence to the world; every day is like Christmas.

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. 

Didsbury – The Story As it Stands

Say hello, wave goodbye. The
places to stretch your legs, sit back and get stuck in this Autumn in Didsbury are a changing and Halloween is in the air.  The meter is starting to tick down on 2015.

These are mysterious times. Somebody thought opening a Victoria Highfield in Didsbury Village would be a good idea. Geese have been flying backwards across Didsbury Park. In the next block the North Wales cruise specialists Gold Beach Holidays may have lasted less time than it takes to say “All You Can Eat Buffet”, but they didn’t stint on the paintjob when they arrived for their two weeks in Didsbury Village and it still looks as shiny, new and forlorn as when they arrived.
Loft, about as West Didsbury as a hipster without his irony shuts next weekend. For affordable non-chic, the Buy-to-Let chattering classes will now either have to go upmarket across Burton Road to Frog, or follow the 4x4s down the bypass to Stanley Green – where hope goes to die and they built a Costa as a man-crèche. 

 Loft don’t sell spiders for your house. I found a great websit to help you grow your own indoors. 

There are retail vacancies to be filled across M20 and some weighty spaces to fill. We have passed the point where there is now a 1:4 ratio of barista:resident and new hairdressers are banned until at least four shut down. The battle of the purple estate agent supremacists has created a vacuum in the village as roaming Brimelow and Wadden militia re-draw the M20 boundary – Cheadle is getting annexed.
Still no word of a Waitrose, a day spa, another clothes shop or a properly kiddie friendly hangout in this borough of babies but…

Inmans, Caffe Rouge and Sew-In are still empty shells. There is talk of Sew-In becoming Bosu, a Chorltonite healthy deli. News of John Lewis, Waitrose and an Apple outlet store in Didsbury remain fictitious rumours I have started and failed to get viral.
I have my spies and in true Mystic Meg fashion I predict that 

1. In Didsbury Village either an Estate Agent, Charity Shop, Hairdresser, coffee shop or Northern Quarter started restaurant will open up before Christmas.
2. In West Didsbury’s booming heart the next phase is a Middle-Eastern inspired new tapas with its own beer in shoe boxes served by skinny-hipped, tattooed-up fashionistas.
3. Even with the fabulous Boulevard Deli, driving for any reason through Didsbury Point will always make you glad you didn’t buy there.   The view of the recreation square at The Boulevard – residents, often locked in their cells for 23 hours per day.”

I’m off to kick leaves and see if Bisou Bisou has a Reduced counter and as they say in Italy, “Qualunque cosa ti chiamano, sarete sempre Felicinis” a me.*
*Whatever they call you, you will always be Felicinis to me.”

The Twelve Days of Didsbury Dad Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 hours sleep,
11. Peppa Pig toys
10. Zantac calming
9. Mince Pies mincing
8. Pets a puking
7. Sky Sports Channels
6. Hours driving in a car with screaming toddlers and bored teen
5 nappies honking
4. French patisseries
3. Minutes’ peace and quiet
2. Twins a bouncing
And a life based in Didsbury…..

Your Didsbury Top 12 (almost) free to do tips:
1. Walk along the side of the metro line boring your children senseless with “all this used to be fields.” Chat.

2. Bring a picnic and take the Metro tour of Manchester to Bury Market where you remember you’ve left your wallet at home and have to come back.

3. Talk about the true meaning of Christmas/Chanucah/Solstice/(insert own) and take them to one of our great churches, synagogues, mosques, cult bases. There is usually singing, getting up and down and catering afterwards.

4. Fletcher Moss – brilliant. (Especially with an Alpine Cafe stop)

5. The little park next to Fletcher Moss, great for the under 5’s and handy for The Didsbury, Ye Olde Cocke and Dimitri’s.

6. Play hide and seek on the old Manchester Poly site – hours of endless fun.

7. Take the Saturday morning samples trail from The Cheese Hamlet down to West Didsbury and back up to Parrs Wood.

8. Didsbury Library has a fantastic children’s section, a toilet AND you aren’t meant to eat in there; genius.

9. Gym offers. Lavid Ddoyd are currently offering 12 days for 12 pounds so long as you understand it’s also £12 for a coffee and £12 for a kid’s snack as well.

10. Visit friends and relatives. It is important to rotate.

11. Didsbury, Cavendish, Fog Lane – play, remember which one has swings, which one has a BMX track and ducks and which one has a bespoke Chocolatier next door.

12. Play the old Didsbury Gsme. “Uh Oh, Where’s Nido? What was Cibo?”

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The Snowman, slowly replacing Frozen as the thrice a day treat.

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Mighty head, busy hands

More memorable than a beautiful sunrise

Three Beautiful Moments

This is the week when it seems everyone I meet is tired, not well, snowed under, stressed. It’s suddenly a month to Christmas, but a break seems a long time away and too long ago. Money, waistline, politics, Masterchef without John Torode. It all adds down. At times like this I count my blessings. Christmas has always been a great time to be Jewish. It’s like a Get Out of Stress Free Card. But much more than this has made me happy this week.
The nights are cold and clear, the stars are sparkling and the rising winter sun casts a peachy bloom over the city at 8am. This weekend I had the holy trinity of parental joy. Didsbury Son featured well in the school play and the whole event was so palatable I hardly had to check my phone. My joy, the briefest of winks from the stage during the bow. I knew what it meant.
The Mighty Headed boy is a sturdy bundle of noisy joy. His urgent “come now Daddy” when there is a jigsaw on the go or a biscuit spotted in the kitchen is conspiratorial in the gentlest of ways.
But the simple joy that dismissed all cynicism and put me in a good mood all day came at about 5.30 this morning. My pearly princess, after a fractious hour of coughing finally felt the Calpol surging through. She sidled across the bed to me so her right side was glued to me and her head was pushed against my chest and sleepily placed her left arm on my chest, falling asleep to her own mantra, “my daddy”.
Sometimes there are things more restorative than a good night’s sleep.

Birthdays and the Autumn Breeze

Wine & Wallop is open. It’s a lovely space and the fact they are finishing it around you as you drink just adds to the ambience. Chalk Bar & Grill is now settled in the village at one end, whilst Croma flaps its big white awning like swans’ wings over the clock tower end of the village, near the newly opened and yet to be investigated Solita. Gregg’s new gift shop neighbour has an opening in site, wooden boards shade it as though huddling around praying it will last longer than all of its predecessors back to the then innovative Cloud 9. Didsbury has its winter line-up ready for the Christmas spend and with the festival season over, the traffic jams getting earlier on Barlowmoor Road and boards up on the old Casa Tapas ranch, it’s show time.

This is a great time of year. The mornings aren’t dark enough to be depressing and Didsbury Son’s school experience is lightened by the the last rays of summer sun.

At Didsbury Dad Mansions its a big weekend. The Mighty-Headed boy and the Pearly Princess are 2 this weekend – a milestone as full of shock and awe as that moment earlier this year when Didsbury Son’s clock ticked into teendom.

Two; we still have buggy, pram, nappies and strings of sounds that evoke, but are not sentences. Are they babies? They are to me, so is Didsbury Son – they are my babies to the point that I could almost use an emoticon.

They have all the boddler attributes to enthral parents and bore the Bodens off friends. Last week they said “Blah blah more pie etc.”, “Ooh, look at that picture – they look like Spandau Ballet when they were cool.” Every point of movement still entrances me, even at Stupid AM after hours perched on a rapidly disintegrating knee.

Above all they are 100% Didsbury. I realised this thinking about the following routines. How to tell if your baby is Didsbury.

1. On Sunday mornings, after an early park jaunt, stop at Caffe Nero for Babyccino and Loacker Wafers.

2. They are on gurgling terms with the pastoral team at St. James’ AND Emmanuel, knowing Dimitri’s has it over The Old Cock every day of the week.

3. I have to wipe the seat before and their hands after a go on the swings in Didsbury Park.

4. They think a People Carrier is a normal car.

5. The only time they have seen a Fish Finger it was homemade at Folk.

So this weekend, with the moving elbow and the working knee I will raise a baby or two, toast Didsbury Wife and try and wangle a celebratory visit to Piccolino and a bit of Sky Sports amid the festivities.

Father’s Day, a report card on your prowess

Father’s Day. Two words that can strike dread into the heart of many dads. It is a report card on how you’ve done since Christmas. The level of effort put in is a direct grading of your role as supporting artist in the great film of family life.
This is not about money spent or responding to the abysmal Americanisation and spreading over the weekend of what was always traditionally a card and a cuppa before normal service resumed.

I had a trawl through the mmm, detritus that is being passed off as a present for dad. I saw an advert for Canadian Maple flavoured ribs and beer. Fine, if you’ve never had Gavuscon or Oemeprozole but not for the other 99% of us literally a recipe for disaster. This and a thousand Top Gear / presents aimed at 10 year olds with more hair passed off as what the retailers decided we should stress over for Father’s Day; rubbish.

There is the same nuance and care needed in a Father’s Day as there is when responding to a question from partners beginning “I want you to be honest with me…” (NB you only fall for this once every six months)

We know a great sage once decreed that the perfect childhood for boys was to have a father until they were seven years old before taking over as pack leader and sending father back into the forest to forage.
Handwritten cards, something you secretly wanted, a hint taken or anything fried and you have an A*; with gradings all the way down to a Co-Op card and a picture of your children to remind you who they are.

I think I did okay. Definitely on the upside and had an easy weekend with a family that becomes more lively and interesting by the week.

Sunday began at 2am with teething terrors traumatising the Mighty-Headed boy and ended alone in a double bed with all baby duties suspended until 6am as I had a big day at work; the greatest act of selfless love in a bedroom that the mother of your children can give you.

Didsbury Son had a break from being short-changed of quality dad attention, spending a sleepover with friends and Didsbury Wife and I spent a chummy afternoon on the couch with the twins before I didn’t have to go to John Lewis.

I felt special. As we wheeled the twin Meerkats out for an early evening drink in a sun-dappled West Didsbury I felt relaxed and sure in the knowledge that the world was right and I was one inappropriate joke away from a Top Gear compilation.

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Hands full, all three of them

Ho Ho Hola

Being away for Christmas is a big deal for the family. Christmas at home has its own rhythms and even though its not something I was brought up with as mine, I think it becomes part of your life whether you embrace it religiously, commercially, in the spirit of human bonhomie or whether you just relish an extra excuse to over indulge and kiss strangers under the flimsiest of contexts.

My lot (same God, different caterers) spread the indulgence through the year with a series of celebrations and a fast to combat the eating. All Jewish festivals boil down to three things; they tried to kill us, we didn’t get killed, let’s eat. As a partial outsider the British take on Christian festivals seems to split three ways. There are those who are religious, embrace the story behind the festival and its intent and balance indulgence and introspection. There are those who do not take up their personal relationship with religion but just in case use the festivals as an insurance policy. Then there are the huge rump of nominal Christians who like an excuse to drink egg nog hnand unwrap a present, all have their place.

I think the idea of a festival in the middle of winter, at the end of the year that brings people together is a good thing -whichever way you face to pray. The specifics of when he was born, whose festival it was originally and the level of commerciality is a petty distraction – it’s your choice and Didsbury Son told me the best Christmas gag I have heard for ages. What do you buy Jesus for Christmas? A t-shirt with “What Would I Do?” On the front. That’s the spirit.

So this year we have Christmas in swimming trunks on a hot, primarily Catholic island with a fairly even British / Scandinavian split. This could satisfy everyone in the family equally, Didsbury Wife can get her religious fix, Didsbury Son can go swimming and I have a chance of herring. This could work out well. My only other experience of Christmas abroad was in a different lifetime in The Dominican Republic; a place with so little to recommend it that getting searched at the airport was a highlight. Our Christmas ideas have evolved through Northern Europe and the faux firs with fake snow that dot the resort seem at odds with the regional rhythms of Christmas.

Didsbury Son has said he does not feel Christmassy. Although this triggered a guilt reaction It comes really from the personal expectation. Our Christmas progress involves the neighbours, the cards, checking the weather forecast, dashing around with cards, presents and kisses and queuing. Part of the fun of a Didsbury Christmas is the 7am queue outside The Cheese Hamlet, Evans and Axons the Butchers. The line of bleary eyed men dispatched to bring home Turkeys, exorbitant meats and the finest smelly cheeses is fraught at best. There is a murmured concern at mixing up sage with dill. Is sage real or is it the equivalent of the glass hammer list for a new recruit? Christmas in Didsbury involves the joy of watching the lunchtime Christmas Eve post-pub panic shop; a joy to sit back and sip a cappuccino whilst other men prepare to let down their partners ingloriously.

We fly home Christmas night to join the Boxing Day throng and see if we can transport our little Didsbury Bubble back from The Atlantic. So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and enjoy what you have. More Didsbury, Dadding and twins nonsense as soon as I have found the last Turkey in Tesco.

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Wii love you

“When I were a lad we got nothing for Christmas. You don’t know you’re born.” I have always wanted to say that to Didsbury Son. However, first, I am Jewish and we got great Chanucah presents and secondly, existential concepts around the notion his own birth can only lead to a major premise that I am pointlessly waffling at him and a minor premise that I have interrupted The Cleveland Show with something pointless. In fact, so pointless it made me trying to get him to memorise our team’s squad numbers before he knew his times tables as a noble bit of parenting.

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Tempura - the nearest interest I have to Manga

 

But Didsbury Son has achieved. Achieved way beyond expectation and with his customary nonchalance and grace. The reward was an hour in The Trafford Centre hyperventilating whilst we considered the axis of dweevil;  Curry’s, GAME, HMV and John Lewis. We knew it wouldn’t be John Lewis, but out of respect for my class and Didsbury Wife we  went anyway. I have always wanted to go to a GAME staff party and ask if an Ewok was in Pokemon or Star Wars as I always get them mixed up with Princesses Leia, Eugenie and Zelda

Curry’s: Mike, a superb example of 12 year old enthusiasm in a 25 year old body embraced Didsbury Son’s desire for more gizmos in a way I could never have even neared. As they milked me at the till he described how to leap a frog and strike something several times to get to somewhere else that looked like The Seargant Pepper front cover. I paid, we left and once home, installed and Zelda’d up to the eyelashes…. Silence

Really. Peace. Occasionally I checked he was OK; stopped him for the odd water and snack break but it entertained him in a way Soma could only have dreamed of doing; stopped him asking me questions just as the scores came on the radio and left him satisfied in a seldom-seen manner.

A Wii; like having a playful babysitter turn up on demand when you need a few hours peace. I can’t believe I have wasted this long trying parenting and engagement and other great concepts that seem good when you read about them in The Observer.

I have seen the future. I may no longer have access to a television but I have gained a day each weekend.

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All attempts to get the ducks to join in with Wii Sports Resot failed miserably

 

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