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 “Halloween”

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.  

 The

 

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. 

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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.”

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

This much I know: I like Bonfire Night not Halloween

As I sail so far past 39.9999 years old that I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall whenever I hear “Voodoo Ray”. As I realise that playing The Cocteau Twins to Didsbury Son is as relevant as my Didsbury Dad describing Vera Lynn as a cracker, this much I know.

SPARE THE CALPOL – SPOIL THE CHILD and ruin the parent

cocteau twins
1. Bonfire Night has gone. It’s the vinyl to Halloween’s download – subsumed by the gaudy nylons and cigarettes of the child friendly marketing monolith to follow the American grey squirrel of a festival. The old fashioned joy of commemorating the attack on democracy and the torture and death of the poor bloke left holding the candle; gone. That simple terror-filled evening when a semi-drunk uncle lit fireworks with a smouldering cigarette then ran like crazy to the Parkin and Heinz tomato soup will be as scratchy as my fake Top of the Pops album from Sykes to the next generation. I think I have seen my last collective dive for cover when a Catherine Wheel makes a dash for it.

Proof - were it needed that Guy Fawkes was a New Romantic

Proof – were it needed that Guy Fawkes was a New Romantic

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American Squirrels picking off our festivals one by one pose a great risk tot he environment.

Sorry Guido and your band of insurgents against the crown, apparently the devil does have the best tune here and we prelude All Souls Day by copying American suburbia. If Thanksgiving takes off we may as well all move to the Costa del So where British traditions are respected.

2. If you are stuck in the house with fractious children of any age, stick them on the sill and open the window. Whether gurgling babies or excitable eight year olds – it’s a winner guaranteed to enchant the neighbours.

3. When something works – do not over analyse. My pearl-headed baby girl has one word, “Daddy”. She chirps it in every situation and to whoever is within view. A little part of me knows this. But there are moments, usually early in the day when I am trying to contain her pre-dawn excitement, when she holds my gaze and my hand and chirrups “Daddy” over and over. In those moments I am beyond gravity. This is where I go when I realise the cost of the childcare.

4. Caffe Nero’s decision to ramp the entrance in Didsbury Village and make the baby change wide enough for a double buggy is a piece of planning genius that buys loyalty, however corporate.

American Squirrels cast envious eyes over our festivals. They beat Bonfire Night, next it's Cheese rolling

American Squirrels cast envious eyes over our festivals. They beat Bonfire Night, next it’s Cheese rolling

5. Despite this serenity I now see pavement-parked cars that block pram access through a red mist far beyond that which is necessary or justified.

6. CBeebies, an iPad and a knife to peel and cut an apple are all you need before 8am.

7. Finding a pub to watch football, then finding they don’t let in children is a guilty pleasure.

8. The key is that I now know I will never again control the remote for the Television. Having lost it to Didsbury Son several years ago for a constant rotation of Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, I am now third in the pecking order behind Cbeebies and my mighty-headed baby’s ability to fit the remote in his mouth.

When they leave home as I near infirmity I’ll get it back. Or as Vera Lynn might say, “We’ll meet again”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivr57dcs9-E

VOODOO RAY – YNN MIX. WHEN THE BASS DROPS THE WALLS COMES TUMBLING DOWN (SIC)

Halloween, The Trafford Centre and a new perspective

It is half-term. Usually a stressful time as Didsbury Son’s array of Junior Schools would be parading Eid, Halloween, Simchat Torah and World Animal Day in a continuous thread that would delight and utterly confuse him and us. One year we were carving a pumpkin in the shape of a hamster to commemorate the five pillars of wisdom and the giving of the scriptures by Moses; who was a close friend of Iggle Piggle and had played in the Premier League.

This year could not be more different. Didsbury Son has happily sloped off to a friend’s family for a few days without nappies. His phone call (not even calls) was crushingly happy, brief and indifferent. No amount of self back-patting for having such a sociable and self-assured son makes up for the move from absolute need to the foothills of independence.

Birds come to pay homage to the new twins near Llanbedrog. If the gifts are good they are British birds, if not the press will consider them Welsh

So Didsbury Wife and I headed off to the Lleyn; M20 by the sea, to introduce The roundest eyes and head in Didsbury and his sister the new boss – our lovely twins to the sea, the caravan, Llanbedrog and Abersoch. It could not have been more different than previous trips. It was a one-handed, one-hour of sleep, nappy and feeding fest that was wonderful for all the small world, rigid timetabled, dictatorial restrictions three-week old babies can bring. I have never felt so needed or alive even though I barely had time to dress them up for my entertainment or loll aimlessly in the classic male pose, one hand was always around a baby.
I should have understood that my long anticipated new life was already here on a trip to the Trafford Centre with Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son, Didsbury Twins and London nephew last week.
First, the organisation and logistics are phenomenal. I have booked tours and worked on studio shows more simple than getting 2 car seats filled, 2 older children seat-belted and assembling the required paraphernalia in a 60 minute timeframe. Secondly, You don’t need a nanny, you need crew.
After negotiating Didsbury Son’s erratic yet proud double buggy driving through the Trafford Centre (my 697th favourite place in Trafford), whilst fending off London Nephew’s enquiries about which twin I like best… I caved in and paid for them to go solo to the cinema to give them 2 hours of 3D and us 2 hours of question free parenting; bliss.
My normal visits to that place to ease Didsbury Wife’s shopping usually consist of placating Didsbury Son with 20 minutes at Game and Apple before fobbing him off with a Hot Chocolate so I can look at Sky Sports News on my phone.
This time, with sweat beading at my temples and babies beginning to shuffle and wake I went to Mamas & Papas ( it’s a real shop, honestly. I learn every day), John Lewis (same trip, different department), M&S ( starting to seem worryingly convenient beyond the food section) and Baby Gap ( disappointingly not staffed by babies).
Any of these stops would normally have me harrumphing like a teenager but I had a revelation . Pushing twins around in a pram got me the positive attention, queue jumping and ease of service I have only ever had in daydreams.
Although slightly damp and stiff of back – by the time we sneaked 20 minutes at Yo Sushi, where we received a welcome reserved only for people who unlike us, do not spin out 4 bowls of Miso Soup for a cheap lunch, I felt taller, prouder and ready to take advantage of this brief celebrity.
Changing a nappy at 3am over the weekend I realised that there are many things that have kept me up at that time: from the emotional to the chemical – but none of them had ever looked at me with something that was clearly wind, but worth waiting and remembering for a lifetime, and it doesn’t need paracetamol.

Movember and the Golden Fleece(ing)

It’s been a month since my last post, Mea Culpas all around. Unless that involves buying a Mea culpa souvenir cup, wristband, t-shirt, fancy dress outfit or themed Mea culpa sweets with special gooey filling.

Please donate to keep these people off the TV

October/November is now weeks of a thousand tiny cuts to my Didsbury Dad wallet and of a stocking up on pre-Christmas tat for a delighted snd sugar overloaded Didsbury Son.

We have celebrated the rise of evil American influenced Halloween spirits against my better liberal morals. The  outfit, bucket of sweets etc. and my payback was to make up ghost stories for a roomful of 20 neighbours without being convincing enough to be ostracised or need a CRB check.

Hot off the back of Halloween we went to the Toc H rugby club firework display. I have always been slightly nervous of Rugby clubs since school. Too much forced bonhomie and unacknowledged homoeroticism. No worries or head dunking down a toilet on the night. The fireworks were good, the bratwurst was excellent and like all good 10 year olds Didsbury Son ran around aimlessly in a gang whose parameters stretched from the mean streets of Parkfield Road to the badlands off Victoria Avenue.
Via various charity boxes around school and Eid contributions we have Movember. Grow a moustache for men’s health. I’m partial to facial hair when allowed and have been through the goattee and the Adidas stripe phase. I didn’t get to start until the 11th and anything that researches an easing of prostate examination seems more appealing once you tip the scales past 38. BUT, even this requires a contribution. I barely have enough left to gorge myself on tidbits at our new Didsbury Village Farm Shop (more to follow in a couple of days).

Who doesn't look good with a 'tache?

Finally and with the full backing of the country, the piece de resistance, Children in Need. I love the idea and am happy to contribute to endless “Name the Olive Oil”, guess which side of the mountain the Focaccia flour was harvested from and a myriad of Didsbury inspired fundraising challenges but I hate the TV programme-a-thon.

I went to bed in disgrace with Didsbury Wife and Son for being bah humbug a month early. It’s not the crying celebs or the wonderful small charities; they are worthy and inspiring. It’s the newsreaders, actors and general BBC staff moonlighting as karaoke bores that makes it unwatchable. Elbow and Coldplay on Thursday night at the MEN, fantastic. Gok Wan doing Chicago, Eastenders committing regicide beyond awful. Want to double the takings? Get these abysmal show ponies back in their comfort zone and out of sight.

Too much sugar on halloween gets to Didsbury Son

Hey, only 5 weeks to Christmas.

Has The World Turned and Happy (insert relevant festival)

Tesco in East Didsbury (I love the geographical split of East, West and The Village – it has a 70s European feel to it) currently has merchandise on display for Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas, Diwali, Jewish New Year and Freedom for The Flemish with Phlegm Independence Party.

Every newsagent in Didsbury now seems to be a licensed mini-mart packed with so much stock that daylight is a thing of the past.

The fight for supremacy between coffee shops and charity shops can only lead to Emmanuel and St James churches going to head to head with a Starbucks Fairtrade Chocolate concession or maybe a John Lewis themed coffee shop.

It’s October 15th and on a perfect summer’s day I strolled through Fletcher Moss with Didsbury Wife and Son past the soon to be Dimitris. The park was full of yapping dogs, happy children and the whiff of suntan lotion. We then sat squinting and basking outside Caffe Nero as cars pumped out summer sounds through open roofs and windows.

City are top of the league. I saw a fish in Evans within my price range, there was no broken glass outside O’Neills this morning and Didsbury Son patiently worked his way through a mock entrance exam as our year 6 parental paranoia cranked up a notch.

All this and last week Didsbury Library had both of the books I was looking for, whilst Gourmet Burger King had more customers than staff on successive weekdays.

These are strange times. I feel as though I may blink and find Salford is the capital of British Television, the LibDems are the government and when I get home my car will be cleaned and SkySports News will be humming behind a steaming cup of tea in my favourite mug… just wishful thinking and mad ideas

AN AUTUMN GONE TOO QUICKLY AND ALREADY NEW YEAR

When I started this blog in September I made the resolution that it would be weekly, possibly fortnightly and at most monthly. I would share the joy of being Didsbury dad, a man able to differentiate a real bagel from those cinnamon doughnut type things you buy in supermarkets, whilst being politically sound, ethically aware, a good father and watching more football.
So three months on from summer musings and some of things I have learned are…
1. Do not make resolutions about the autumn whilst the tan of the Mediterranean is still colouring your thoughts as well as your outward appearance.

2. The period between September 1st and half-term primarily consists of letters home about bugs “going around the school” which only I have caught. (I became class rep for Didsbury son after some romantic notions about being proactive about education on a weekend without the hassle of being a governor).

3. The step up in any school year induces the kind of lame platitudes you hated hearing a child and you now pass on.
Me: (pants on head, trousers half down, gooning around the kitchen saying “It’s a great day for a spelling test”.
Didsbury Son booking counselling session for 21st Birthday, “It’s my dad – he thought he was the warm-up act for breakfast. At age 5 it was funny, by Year 5 it made me nervous.”

4. One of the benefits of being a year 5 parent is watching the other parents who have constantly told you that private education is apartheid and generally a bad bad thing now surreptitiously stalking potential tutors, past papers and tips about “The High School” and “the Grammar School” from a never before so popular Didsbury Wife who teaches.

5. From Half-term onwards it is a question of minor fleecings building to a crescendo in a Christmas so wrought with guilt and expectation I’m only glad my non-Christian upbringing made me a late developer.

At Harvest Festival my son’s book bag bulged with feed the poor letters nestling next to exorbitant charges for out of frame school pictures and a school trip that could pay for a sedan chair for each child. The removing of the disposable income built carefully through Halloween (costume and sweets), Bonfire Night (when did a small box go up to £25), Eid, Chanucah, Book Week (trying to sell him illustrated books at £11.99 each), Solstice, Panto Trips etc. Ad nauseum. Didsbury wife and I glare covetously at each other’s wallets with a “your turn” unspoken across the Special K.

6. I really dislike Halloween. Firstly, it is American and not ours. I fear being dragged kicking into Thanksgiving that would mean 2 months of enormous turkeys beckoning me night after night. I have invented a meal between breakfast and elevenses – turkey treats for me and the cats. Secondly, it’s crap.
British trick or treating consists of two possibilities round our way – either little Freyas or Archies in Tesco costumes with doting parents standing behind them taking pictures mercilessly as you strain knee and attention span to feign interest and give those M&S sweets with fair-trade sugar. This is like some bizarre “mini-pops” with paparazzi as small children slightly scared of their own costumes are cheered on to talk to strangers by sugar-coated parents. The flip side is surly teenagers who realise it’s a middle-class area and look slightly threatening as they scoop the remnants to scoff noisily or give out as Christmas presents.
The main reason I hate Halloween is that it is killing Bonfire Night. Not dissimilar to the way the Premier League is killing the FA Cup. November 5th and the 1st Saturday of the year are sacrosanct. One is toffee, Heinz Tomato Soup, scared pets and fireworks. The other is the best Match of the Day of the year, features a postman and a student playing an international and has the chance of embarrassment. Both are fantastic. Halloween comes over here giving chewing gum, tights and chocolates to the kids and lures them away with flashy costumes and the ability to jitterbug.
Like aluminium, ass, jello and a bag of chips when they mean crisps it is great for America but does not suit the British. If you love ghost and goblins go to Alderley Edge, on bonfire night.

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