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.