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 “Muswell Hill”

Plain speaking wins the day

Frank Sinatra “I did it my way”
Stevie Wonder “I just called to say I love you”

Rumours of Wonder looking to open a shop in Didsbury have been dismissed. Picture www.biography.com)

Rumours of Wonder looking to open a shop in Didsbury have been dismissed. Picture http://www.biography.com)

Ronseal 5 year varnish “It does what it says on the tin”
All clear, successful and obvious. There is a lesson to be learned here. Many lives ago, pre Didsbury Dad, I promoted live bands. I shied away from trumpeting them as a cross between The Doors and Elvis invade people thought it was a band with food and intimacy issues that should not be left alone in the bath.
Does this crystal clear lesson get through to the not so mean streets of M20? Is this plain speaking Muswell Hill with less Moolah and Alderley with edge paying attention? No.
The Didsbury Village Farm Shop (RIP – the thought of your club sandwich fills me with… Well filled me with bread and meat) is a perfect example. It’s butchers may have been inspired by Smithfields, it’s sandwiches influenced by The Mighty Gregg’s and its cheese based on a book about cheese in the 80s but it was neither Axons (a butchers), The Cheese Hamlet (God’s Cheese Shop) or Fresh Save (a green grocers) . Now it is empty. The sign on the weighing machine saying “We will serve you shortly” a cruel reminder that this shop has been empty, or worse, was once the least well-run Carphone Warehouse ever.

Cafe Rouge is French (in a Whitbread way), Costa do coffee and Jo Padmore is an optician. She is not a lens-influenced, near nasal dresser who does shoe repairs if you are not keen on glasses. She also has a lovely window display. Effective and very obvious what it is there to sell.
So we come to Cibo. I really hope it works, that it is a great restaurant that is a huge success and brings people flocking to Didsbury. Well done to the Cioboans for taking the plunge. This space was previously a La Tasca which held a special place in the hearts of many of us. Before that it was Burns, a suburban fish restaurant way before there was a market for one outside of coastal resorts.
Cibo, in language that smacks of Mud Crab Cafe’s New York Australian food bakery coffee shop and hairdressers is going to be Venetian-influenced. This does not actually mean anything. As I pushed the double buggy past this morning my heart sank like an old Gondola.

Griffins, an Italian staple, are hard to farm.

Griffins, an Italian staple, are hard to farm.

Venetian -influenced? I am lucky enough to have spent time in Venice. The Mozarella Rice balls and espressos you get at the street stalls are delicious (they sell them at Piccolino’s on Lapwing Lane), but are they influential? Does Venetian influenced mean that the Ciboans are going to recreate St. Mark’s Square in the School Lame Car Park, pay homage to Paolo Lucio Anafesto, first Doge of the Venetian Republic or charge 10 euros for a coffee to the English? I once went to see Venezia play my team at football and our fans had coins and bricks thrown at us most of the game. If they are going to take their influence from Venezia’s Ultras then I think I won’t be the only one darting past anxiously straight to No. 4 on Warburton Street.
Venice, like Manchester has a canal, an airport and a strong sense of identity.
Cibo is an Italian noun meaning grub. Let us hope it is as vibrant as St. Marks, as beautiful as Florence, as tasty as the street food in Sicily and the staff don’t throw sharp objects at you if you are not local.

Paolo Luci Anafesto, tipped to be the maitre d' of Didsbury's new Venetian-infuenced restaurant.

Paolo Luci Anafesto, tipped to be the maitre d’ of Didsbury’s new Venetian-infuenced restaurant.

Didsbury; the birds, the barbers, the ship canal

Melton Mowbray has its Pork Pies and Eccles its cakes. Swindon, roundabouts and Hull white telephone boxes. Think of London and Dick Whittington springs to mind. Edinburgh – and it’s Greyfriars’ Bobby yapping at you from the gates of the cemetery, a saucer of Irn Bru having been lapped.

But what about Didsbury?

This birthplace of the RSPB, final home of Manchester Ship Canal’s Daniel Adamson and residence of the current Poet Laureate. This leafy suburb was the birthplace of 70s footballer/cricketer Jim Cumbes; hosts the resting place of two of bonnie Prince Charlie’s men and incorporates Fletcher Moss; man, pub and meadow.

A river runs through it.

What are we synonymous with?

Didsbury Son’s self-created Scooby Sandwich? It features 5 essential hydrogenated e-numbers and several incompatible layers. It is good, but…

Didsbury still loves its birds. Rare birds by the river, well-hung ones in Evans and mesmerising rotisseried chickens at The Didsbury Village Farm Shop.

The ship canal spirit lives on in the Mersey Basin and there are professional, amateur and Tai Chi inspired poets giving our village rhyme and lyrical beauty; but they do not define us.

So beyond supermarkets, young professionals and an M20 postcode what is our USP?

I think we have two.
Not the abysmal cell-like flats that have replaced two of our iconic buildings (Capitol Theatre where The Avengers was shot, Withington Hospital where I had my first endoscopy).
Not the ignoring of private car spaces and general manners by the not so yummy mummies at our primary schools.
Not even Wilkinsons on Barlow Moor Road, the shop that defies progress in the most delicious fashion.

In Didsbury – beyond doctors, lawyers, teachers, media luvvies and music biz veterans we do Barbers and Coffee Shops like no other village, enclave, borough or suburb.

Muswell Hill LOOK and LEARN. Alderley Edge, tell the nanny to take notes.

The spirit of Sid the Barber lives on. From Chalkie White and Blade in the East of Didsbury, down past the barbers on School Lane that now outnumber residential houses 2-1. From John at Gentry Grooming and the achingly naff Edward Scissorhands to West Didsbury’s boho barbers of Burton Road. Say it loud Didsbury… We are hirsute and happy Didsbury Dads, Granddads, sons and nephews. Boys and men who need a regular trim and not necessarily anything for the weekend…
And…

We can distinguish between an arabica bean and a full-roast from any number of differently coloured coffee shops. This is no village for Mellow Birds, wherever the RSPB was founded.

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