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 “Iggle Piggle”

A re-edit, navel gazing and core strength

At the age of 39 years, more than 39 months and 39 days this much I know about being a Didsbury Dad and the worries it brings.   
1. The DVLA are planning to introduce a section in the driving test that includes parking to pick up an order from Urban Grille on Wilmslow Road. To pass, customers have to avoid parking across a junction, pedestrian crossing and cycle lane without dropping their mobile or missing an expletive within the conversation they are having on it whilst parking.

2. In a year when the headlines have fed us a daily dose of carnage, megadeath, celebrity death, general hatred, fear and pointless politicians braying like a vine of a broken record there is solace in the simple pleasures of M20. 

I try to steer clear of politics in this column BUT living in a genuine multicultural area and enjoying the benefits of the 100% Polish Dot and her re-invention of the Pavillion in the park, the Finnish owned, Casa Italia, the German Supermarket chain, the best French patisserie outside Paris, the Nepalese etc. etc. Enforces why Didsbury is such a lovely place to live.  

 My greatest current joy is thinking that who or whatever was responsible for the word “Brexit” is probably a rich combination of the words TWAddle and caT. 
3. Bringing up a teenager, albeit that Didsbury Son is still rather lovely, requires the diplomacy and stealth of Jonathan Pines in The Night Manager. I am more naturally Iggle Piggle In The Nightgarden.  

  My last promo shot pre the twins’ birth shows the true effect of sleep deprivation 

4. Children go through many developmental stages. The twin boddlers are currently at the walk on every wall, pavement crack and step on any road. The average time to walk 500 yards is 20 minutes, 2 tantrums and a slight graze. 

5. My latest attempts to reach Self Actualisation involve Pilates and strengthening my “core”. (Who knew in the 80s that slouching and smoking weren’t positive lifestyle choices?). I now finally know what a neutral spine is (although I’m still more C than S), but tipping my pelvis under still sounds like it should be a euphemism for something you wouldn’t ask for on a first or second date.  

 Recreating I Am Kurious Orange for nursery

6. Donald Trump is not an idiot. Laughable at times yes, but clever in all the most negative of ways. A shadow print of Tony Robbins. 
7. When transatlantic fear and racism crowd my mind. When the challenges of call centres, tax changes, not being 20 something and life balance seem too much, i try to be positive. I lie awake at night listening to the house, the cats and the family breathing. Knowing that for at least half the house there is very little that can’t be solved with a Kinder Egg.  

  If there isn’t a My Little Pony in here I’m in trouble. 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3HMhWB95ldQ


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

Top 10 Tips for Travelling with Toddlers

Travelling with twin toddlers. A simple A to Z.
A. – it’s ace
2 – two soothers, two snacks, two beakers or too late, you are done for.
Z. – toddling boddlers x 2. No chance of Zzzzzs.

Now that’s out of the way sit back, chew on a week-old rice cake and turn off every bass-less plastic teapot, frog, picnic basket and lion; here’s the skinny. I’ll just remove Iggle Piggle from the small of my back.
To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Othello “Rude am I in speech and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace but I can adapt a range of football chants to soothe babies and amuse Didsbury Son”.

In their short lives so far the twins have been on a range of flights, starting at 10 weeks with a trip to Spain. My real secret is to let Didsbury Wife plan and strategise, then do as I’m told. It works. But for those occasions I am in charge I have top tips for travel. (Although many originally began… Tell Didsbury Son to run after them, blame Didsbury Son, feign sleep or cry)

1. Ignore the naysayers. The reaction to taking the twins on a transatlantic flight varied from hushed shock to claims of madness. Flights are free (except for the ubiquitous and unfathomable airport taxes, £28 landing, £11 per crack in the pavement walked upon and £3 for each bottle of water you can’t take through customs otherwise WHSmith would be the new Woolworths. The price of the items too dangerous to take through customs is the first mugging of your holiday.) for the under twos so we worked out we were in the last few months of being able to afford a transatlantic trip unless the government re-direct all taxes to free child care. Did I digress?
Calpol, low expectations, a fixed smile and an apology on the tip of your tongue and bingo, travelling with toddlers is easy AND more easily navigatable than Jazz.

2. Forget your last pre-children visit anywhere. Then, you stayed in a boutique hotel at the heart of the party. You need accessible lifts, storage room, air conditioning, carpets that cushion a falling boddler and dark wallpaper that does not show crayon marks. As we lay in our trendy hotel a block from Miami’s biggest party listening to drum, bass and next door ‘s argument and inevitable, excruciating and thankfully brief reconciliation, I craved the bland open spaces and Multi-channelled impersonality of our Homewood Suites off the I-95.

3. If you drive, they will sleep. When you stop, they will wake. Plan your stops. You cannot pull in for a quick wee/coffee/snooze – it will rouse the team from the depths of sleep to the clingiest screech in seconds. A minor note in the States. I asked where the bed was in the restroom, bad move.

4. Occasionally, the crap snacks we all enjoy are okay to pass downwards. My two have X-Ray vision and bloodhound noses for crisps. Their joy at a bag opened in their direction offsets the middle-class shame at sharing salty treats.

5. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

6. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

7. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool. This is the only hope you have of staying on budget, getting a tan and having a permanent excuse to get away from strangers mistaking you laughing with your family, with having the slightest interest in talking to them and hearing about Indiana. I genuinely had someone ask if we knew Jane Platt.., from London. Of course we said yes before feigning the need for nappy changes all around.

8. Do not be lured in by American waiters feigning friendliness with your brood, it makes not leaving a tip afterwards more embarrassing.

9. Sing. Most people think the English are eccentric (and love Royalty – the planned wedding between Prince George and my Pearly-topped princess was well-received) and being able to change a nappy whilst singing and ordering drinks is the way to happy kids and personal space.

10. Plan ahead. It’s a holiday and the chances are high that you don’t have childcare. The lure of a late night Mojito, ice-cold beer or Hemlock can be strong and you may wake up feeling more woozy than usual. The heirs to your eczema lying next to you neither understand nor care and to avoid feeling seasick have the tools ready to buy you a little extra sleep.
IPad loaded with known games -14 minutes
YouTube nursery rhymes or CBeeBies programme – 19 minutes.
IPhone loaded -8 minutes
Dragon breath slur “sleepy time” – 36 seconds and a potential headbutt.
Bag of crisps and iPad 24 minutes* – the call is yours.

* times may vary dependent on nappy weight and contents

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Sago Mini – I love this more than I should, 15 minutes of relative peace

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Things I have learned – small children like aimlessly walking around paths – you can virtually sleepwalk

Twenty First Century Pub Crawl, with children

Every place has its pub crawl and M20 is no exception. Back in the ’80s when hair and collars reached for the skies and there was no such as thing as too much make-up, it was a full night out that started with The Olde Cock and The Didsbury ( Now both gastros with differing successes)  and via Crown, Dog, Albert, Nelson, The Old Grey (now Zizzi’s) and The Railway – it would be chips at Sweaty Betty’s now a poster site but rumoured to be Didsbury Lounge 2) before the Three Lions. The Golden, The Red and The White. The White Lion had bands downstairs, could be a bit lairy and a cab home afterwards from Tripps cost £2.

 

Courtesy of pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.com  I used to stare at this after a long night drinking and think "One Day I could swipe a Nectar card here".

Courtesy of pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.com I used to stare at this after a long night drinking and think “One Day I could swipe a Nectar card here”.

It was pints (although not for me, always the shorts and being really honest – I was really more interested in the snacks than the drinking. The advent of Scampi Fries in 1986 opened up a whole new world), Malibu if you felt lucky, Silk Cut and the latent threat of violence – heady times. A really good night could stretch to Mulberry’s or Severe/ Murder in Fallowfield. You could make a complete show of yourself without a single text, picture, Vine, Facebook, Pinterest, What’s App or truth getting out – marvellous days with less comeback. 

You never knew who you would meet on a night out

You never knew who you would meet on a night out


Last week, to celebrate Easter and Didsbury Son being out for the day, Didsbury Wife and I decided to recreate it for the twins. The Golden Lion is now a car park, The White Lion a Sainsbury’s and The Olde Cock is now crap – but we were not daunted. 

However, the thought of pushing the pram and downing drinks between nappy changes no longer enthralls; Didsbury Wife and I created the 40 something, small children Didsbury crawl.

1. Late breakfast at Caffe Nero with Pain au Raisins to share.

2. Then in the car for an adventure which took us to Alderley Edge for a toddler sized walk and lunch at The Wizard. Lunch out with toddlers and no high chairs does mean you need to be able to down in one. – bit it’s the parfait not the Pernod and Black.

3. Back via John Lewis where the Mighty Headed Boy lay down and staged a protest in the toy department. We coaxed him back with afternoon tea in the cafe; where at 18 months old they are SO last year. The number of floppy necked baldie babes not only made me pine for the days when they were toothless and inert but they looked huge; it was brilliant. With the sugar rush from a JL Battenberg calming down we left, satiated.

We got home feeling as we had done 25 years ago – not sure how we had spent so much, a little ashamed of our indulgence, with a stomach ache. We also had stories to tell and lots of laughs and the only time anyone had tried to hit me they used Iggle Piggle and shouted “Mummyo”; result.

Iggle Piggle v Homeland and Utopia

This much I know. In The Night Garden is possibly the finest television I have seen this year; edging out Homeland’s multi-story pile up and the beautiful crafting and colouring of Utopia by a short Nonk.
Derek Jacobi’s VoiceOver is worthy of forgiveness for that thing he shares with Gandalf on ITV, where Frances de la Tour plays a female, middle-class Keith Lemon.
ITNG, a flagship show on the mighty CBeebies could go prime time. If the unfathomable Deal or No Deal ( the whole open a box is Key Stage 1 motor control) is an 8pm show then why not “At Home with the Pontypines”. 8 kids, living next door to their twins who also have 8 kids – more enticing than Celebrity Big Brother and genuinely mind-bending.
How about a Top Gear Special on Ninky Nonk v Pinky Ponk? We are a Ninky family but there is something about the Pinky Ponk’s wheezing beauty that draws you in. I was granted access to the cast to find out their take on being part of this QI for the pre-lingual.

Part. 1:
Iggle Piggle in his own words. Iggle rarely gives interviews and is known offscreen for his thoughtful poetry and landscape watercolours.

“Once the blankey comes down, the light goes on and the music starts you have a lot of time on your own to think. It’s just you and a rolling sea. There’s no one running circles around my palms and until I get through the hedge it’s a lonely journey. The guys are great and I think I could sail there in my sleep, but… Sometimes not even a smile and a kiss from Upsy Daisy can make up for that commute. Me? I know one day it will end. Only Postman Pat and Bob the Builder seem to go on forever and they have a trade. Glee are interested in a spin-off of the Blankey dance but they think Sky Blue’s a weak colour so we are in discussion. I’m not bleaching for anyone.

The best thing? Good question. I don’t think you ever get over being a role model for the Holophrastic Babblers. It’s a gift.

Timmy Time, Ziggy Marley and the power of CBeebies

What do you call a parent who never uses TV as a filler whilst taking 5 to make a brew, go for a wee or  count lines and grey hairs?
You don’t.
They are either lying or they are the kind of uber-organised automaton that can do Year 7 maths homework without flinching and has never popped a dummy in their mouth to clean it. (Sshh, that’s just between us. )

Didsbury Son is hooked on Cartoon Network and Adventure Time, the Adventures of Gumball and The Regular Show. I silently pine for the times we would curl up to watch The Simpsons. I snipe at the cartoons whilst secretly enjoying their absurdist dreamlike core.

What Timmy might look like if he was real

What Timmy might look like if he was real

I was influenced by Scooby Doo, a scared Great Dane who ate processed garbage fed to him by his stoned owner. They held long conversations and the stoner dressed poor Scooby in a range of inappropriate outfits and put him in danger. I believe my love of Scooby and his deformed nephew Scrappy negates any option I may have to pass comment on Didsbury Son’s mesmeric viewing. He has inherited the male gene to stare endlessly, without judgement at anything animated or non-educational. Take a bow men, Lord Reith, I blame you for not inventing Ren & Stimpy earlier.

This staring gene is universal. The twins love a bit of CBeeBies. They may only be 5 months old but Smiley girl chuckles along to the odd programme whilst preferring staring at the light out of the window and The Mighty-Headed boy (60% head, 100% Didsbury) can zone out for a good half hour (  the baby equivalent of a whole day spent in bed watching Big Bang Theory or Lovejoy).

I am concerned. CBeeBies projects a world which worries me on many fronts. Take Mike The Knight, he is an idiot. On the one hand he always realises he has been a fool and that the dragons/trolls/his sister/anything else was right. On the other, his portrayal of feudal patronage, animal cruelty and a male-dominated society where women merely cook and clean is one that gives my baby boy false expectations; and the voice is so annoying I pray the dragons will get fed up and eat him.

CBeebies documentary about swans held in prison without trial in Cheshire really struck a chord

CBeebies documentary about swans held in prison without trial in Cheshire really struck a chord

Postman Pat has to be 80. I know the post office has made cuts but surely someone should relieve him. It’s the saddest documentary I have ever seen. His only companion is a stuffed cat he thinks is real and the sap in the local train station keeps giving him work, he keeps getting it wrong. Richard Branson, Adam Crozier – sort out your staff.
Where is Tilly’s parent/guardian? She hangs out with an elephant, a pig, a chicken and a crocodile. Where do Child Services think they are up to? If the elephant doesn’t crush her then pain awaits. This is not Life of Pi. and she is only six years old. The pig and chicken are gonners. RIP Porky and Licken but please, someone – save her. Pingu. You make Iggle Piggle seem like Stephen Fry.
These are the tip of a very tall iceberg. The Octonauts flout the Laws of Physics and Bernard Cribbins thinks he is called Jack and talks to a glove. At times it is heartbreaking.
There is a saving grace. A very beautiful saving grace, Timmy. Timmy is a little lamb with a lot inside and I, smiley baby girl and deep thinking baby boy love him. Even Didsbury Son loves Timmy and Didsbury Wife and I have given up Moussaka. Timmy is the son of Shaun the Sheep. I’m not sure who his mother is but I don’t think it’s the one who tried to kill Shaun for having the wrong trousers. Timmy is a ram amongst lambs, an organic fillet amid horsemeat fillings, a Babe the pig sheep in the farmyard. Timmy and his little friends have innocent fun and wipe away the sour taste that the rudderless Tilly and the tiresome Mike the Knight leave in the mouths of my innocent babies.

Timmy, It's Timmy. He's a little lamb with a lot inside - but not served with tzatziki in this house

Timmy, It’s Timmy. He’s a little lamb with a lot inside – but not served with tzatziki in this house

Thomas, stay in your train garage – you are not welcome here. This house dances to the rhythm of Rastamouse, 3rd and Bird (particularly the Ziggy Marley episode) and the glorious Timmy Time.

 

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.

A month full of promise

In an auction for a school I have won 3 fitness coaching sessions with a professional instructor AND a Management  training day (apparently worth 3K – so my first decision to bid low was a good one). Unfortunately I was outbid on a session with a psychiatrist assessing mental health, which was the one I was really after.

I can’t resist seeing into other people’s worlds  but I may be about to find out a harsh lesson. The fitness training is with a professional rugby union coach.

Now I dipped out of rugby at the age of 11 when  my build condemned me to being a tighthead prop. This induced both claustrophobia and a fear of people crouching down biting, squeezing and punching me for no discernible reason. In my view Rugby Union was fat boys playing catch (line stolen from Bradley Walsh) so this could be a meeting of minds in no sense of the phrase.

I have promised Didsbury Wife I will return with pecs like Jason Bourne and neck like a bridge support, face like Iggle Piggle and knees that will be creaking like rusty doors but can take a pounding from a hooker (so to speak). Maybe I should do the management coaching first to learn how to deal with the situation.

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