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 “Margaret Thatcher”

Hard hats, small beds and blowing bubbles

This started out as a light-hearted muse. Lapwing Lane has been turned into the Hi-Viz capital of the north. As the need for electrical upgrades takes the Chilli Banana’s road digging west of the city, more men in hard hats begin to take over.She’s starting to look old. That’s the elite for you. 

The pub formerly known as The Greenfinch, formerly known as The Bird in the Hand and now the unfathomable Generous George has had its bi-annual refit. It now has an enormous armchair outside it, Sky Sports inside and a lack of focus that really needs Learning Support. It sits in the suburban centre of M20, on the edge of Bohemia and thinks it’s a Travelodge off the M1. I’m going to petition whichever brewery is haemorrhaging a fortune to keep the playground open to turn it into a Dutch Pancake House. If we are going to throw money at dead concepts let’s go old school.

My concept for the new Generous George refit, wall to wall Lieutenant Pigeon.

Montrose Properties are having a major refit at Didsbury’s premier non-purple property centre and the skiptastic look to Lapwing Lane doesn’t end there.

Post Brexit only UK snacks will be allowed in lunch boxes. 

Pizza Express – where in the 80s I cashed my first giro (it was a post office) is having an overhaul. As it’s still always busy and every dad in Didsbury keeps an eye out for the 25% off mains offer in their inbox this is a bold move. I’m hoping to bring a review of the new doughball experience next week. 

Sneak preview of the new government housing strategy. 

The parade on Lapwing Lane is starting to resemble an al fresco Ikea. The tables and chairs outside Wine & Wallop extend to the Post Office, the furniture outside Didsbury Cafe ends at the hoardings bordering Sterling Chemists. I’m not sure if Jason’s operating a Latte and a prescription service but they’ll need softer cushions to bring in the Ultraproct crowd. 
I like Didsbury Food & Wine. Whilst Pete, Tom and Claire have Fusion buzzing and busy from early in the morning and continue to build their place as a community cafe for the proud to be liberal metropolitan dwellers (hooray for us in the middle), Didsbury Food & Wine takes a different path. The guys who run it are great. They saunter in after 10, too cool to Vape or chase the Metro commuters. They mooch, they’re laconic, they’re as not Didsbury as it gets – top place. Even when closed they have more customers than Didsbury Noodles and seem as relaxed as the punters walking out of Eve’s Retreat into the non table and chair end of Lapwing Lane’s shops. 
I was going to make light of this and the sad closure of Salon M20, once the fish foot nibbling centre of the village. It leaves three empty shops in a row and we are screaming for a firework shop and a few pop ups. (Although Waitrose would work).
I was. But it’s 2.30am and I’ve been awake for a long time worrying. The Oemeprozole and Camomile didn’t work. I’ve segued seamlessly between the usual triumvate of work, money, health. Trudged through the ever-depressing Brexit fallout, Theresa Thatcher (or is it Maggie May) and the general air of nastiness around. I’ve navel-gazed so deeply I thought I heard an echo. 
I used to lie awake worrying about football, girls and whether I could find girls who like football.
During the recession before last a friend of mine came up with a board game based on the idea of building your own bubble. The idea dissolved into a vodka in The Old Grey Horse but the intention works. 
I am now squeezed into a child’s bed with the mighty headed boy inching me over the edge. I’m breathing in his innocence and general joy at being alive. His hand is on my chest and he’s snorting gently and rhythmically down my ear, reminding me that this is my bubble and no one gets in here unless I let them. Family


Just a quickie…

But there is high excitement in our house as Didsbury Wife and I prepare to celebrate the return of an old friend. Driving the Child Truck through the sunny streets of M20 there are many new things to admire.

On Lapwing Lane the new arcade has been launched with a fanfare and Wine & Wallop even opened briefly before going back to building a mezzanine that has now taken three years to construct. I am still salivating at its possibility. Next door the new Post Office has disappointed all as it has opened without the opportunity to post al fresco or event get a haircut. In fact this is the only barberless street in the whole of the village. Walking through Didsbury Village now and being accosted by tourists handing out fliers offering exotic haircuts at knockdown prices is a fantasy I keep having; I digress.

Last time these doors opened a kebab was exotic, Fred Sylvester was our MP and Bilko's (now The Metropolitan) was a sophisticated night out

Last time these doors opened a kebab was exotic, Fred Sylvester was our MP and Bilko’s (now The Metropolitan) was a sophisticated night out

Bisou Bisou is open serving exquisite French patisserie, Solita NQ opened with a bang and looks lively in the old Cibo/La Tasca. Burns Fish Restaurant space. The latest attempt at a gift shop in the centre of the village next to Gregg’s is taking shape and there is a feeling of refreshment being refreshed BUT…

The Piece de resistence, the bauble on the tree and the light of my life is the return of Sweaty Betty’s. The pristine re-design next to Axon’s was a chippy up to the mid to late 80s run by three sisters (this is all getting a bit Shakespearean). I cannot even remember if it was good, bad or greasy but it was legend in my teenage years alongside the slightly scary Mr. Marvel on Barlowmoor Road (well overdue a re-opening). This yellow and black striped grease pit closed without warning and has been the only part of Didsbury not rebuilt since the days when Margaret Thatcher’s ascent was still a novelty.


The man in the picture is not part of the re-fit and you do not have to look at this through the side of the a car – but it helps

Rumour has it in the same stable as Didsbury Lounge. Conjecture has the spirit of the Sweaty Betty returning to the city. Last time you could buy food on these premises hummmous was not available in Britain and smoking was compulsory in pubs. All I know is that one of the city’s finest flyposting sites has gone and there will be yet more temptation for those sneaking into Lighter Life next to our area’s finest pub, butcher and Sweaty re-incarnation.

picture courtesy of zettashouse.wordpress.com COMING BACK SOON?

picture courtesy of zettashouse.wordpress.com


As I have sailed past 39 and a bit, then a bit more. This much I know

Many of my contemporaries are having a combination of mid-life crisis and mentality stasis. This smacks of an admission that you got it wrong In your late teenage/early twenties. Be warned – a middle-aged goattee is only a short step in your Crocs from a male-patterned baldness topped ponytail.

Change in outlook is essential development; physically, emotionally, mentally – every way. If you haven’t changed since the 80s you are actually your family pet.

These contemporaries seem keen to prove they want to party like they did when smoking was an popular indoor pursuit, with people born post-Thatcher. They can, except now they need a week off afterwards and a night on the tiles means an Ibuprofen gel rub.Why this need to hang out with today’s youth, to be independent, be individual? It misses the point, like telling people you are cool or why a joke is funny.

If you think back through the mists of time to youthdom, remember the adults who talked about the 60s or the tragic “mature” student who in week 1 seemed worldy wise and by Week 4 was slightly creepy? That is us at 2 in the morning, feigning interest in the next generation as they BBM, Bump and Virtual each other whilst we look on with aching joints.

I still enjoy many of the same stimuli; but I am the Gold station demographic. If teenagers want to join in they are welcome. I can no longer be bothered being out every night or travelling through the night to Ipswich for a minor cup game. I am glad I have done it and can tick it off to remember at my leisure.

At 20 I had no responsibility. I could be marvellously outraged, avant and selfish. This was my right. I am no longer the centre of my own world and it’s fine because I have walked, danced and talked rubbish through the arrogance and myopia of youth. I care about less things, but I care more deeply and with a sense of realism. Having fun doesn’t age – posting it online does.

I still believe in the beauty of the human spirit and the power to change for better on a personal and global basis (I’ve always been an optimist) but it is tempered with a couple of decades of failure, success, love, heartbreak and the realities of money.

In London I enjoyed walking through the West End at night. Soho, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Chinatown are great places, full of life and human diversity. Vibrant, but I have no desire to be the teenagers I see in excited groups posing, preening, smoking and hoping. Their perfect hair and muffin topless waistbands are great to see. The air crackles with a hundred languages and hustlers shuffle next to big nights and trips that will be remembered and chatted about when these teenagers are Didsbury, Rome and Beijing Dads. It is theirs to grasp.

I now look at this and think of the fun I will have bringing Didsbury Son here and seeing his love of the neon, the comic shops, the smell of Chinatown and the naughtiness of Soho. I look forward to taking him through Soho Square and the warren around it. I can jabber on about working here and he can pay no attention – transfixed by such easy access to Subway and Caffe Nero.

I mentally weigh up the pavements and curbs for a double buggy. Soho, tricky, Piazzas are the new nightclubs when you have babies. I scan the surroundings for potential baby changing facilities and mentally make note of every chemist. It’s a new world for me and in its own way as enticing as the old one – just different.

Age and not worrying about everybody’s opinion brings a sense of freedom. I can genuinely have a night on my own terms. I don’t have the peer pressure, fear of ridicule and worrying if my winklepickers are sharp enough. I already know what my peers think, understand my own ridiculousness and wear insoles for my back- that’s what winklepickers will do for you. I strolled, stopped for a drink and a fleeting friendly conversation with a stranger without swapping Facebook or twitter likes. Then I mooched back to my hotel cell happy.

As an after thought; s Starbucks’ desire to write your name on your cup and hail you like a friend the most unintentionally entertaining retail department since “Suits You” on The FastShow? I have had more fun spelling Didsbury Son’s Pokemon characters in excruciating detail to the Stepfordly cheerful staff who can text 100 words a minute but cannot write Snorlax or Monferno without sitting down for a rest. It is not big, not clever and it certainly does not befit a Didsbury Dad – but it is fun.

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