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 “South Manchester Reporter”

Charles Darwin, Giddy Goats and The Bisou Conspiracy

The fashion for hipster beards and the move towards e-cigarettes has given the Metrolink station a specific retro look. The gauche style of inhaling the e-cig as though it were a pipe has given the ramp to the ticket machine the look of a WG Grace / Charles Darwin look-a-like competition.   
Victorian favourites the peacocks plan to ride in on the wave of the summer retro look. 

I don’t understand e-cigs. I used to smoke many years ago, pre-Didsbury Dad days when a) I could afford it and b) you didn’t have to stand outside like a plane spotter at the airport. There seems no pleasure to e-cigs. With nicotine patches you could forget you were wearing them and “accidentally” have a smoke to get a genuinely scary hit. Nicotine gum gives you something to do with your teeth other than bite your nails and going cold turkey makes you look dangerous, which can be useful in a crowd.

I never take being an “ex” for granted; but know that there is more chance of Cibo and Nido returning to Didsbury and becoming successful chains than there is of me buying flavoured vapours to inhale.

Anyway, whilst I’ve been off there have been many changes in Didsbury’s retail look that need attention.

1. Zizzi, gone? This faux Pizza Express and its signage have disappeared from the building that sits in a prime location on the corner of Wilmslow and Barlow Moor Road, but has floundered since it was the Old Grey Horse in the 80s/90s and shows no sign of gaining popularity. Would make a great 3-floor Bisou Bisou Bisou. Sneaking around Didsbury with a turquoise box full of French patisserie has become our naughty little habit. 

2. Didsbury’s first day spa has ground to a halt. On the site of the legendary (to the 40 and overs) Sweaty Betty’s Chippy, the insulation sits in the window like lost bales of hay and the window display has changed from advertising for staff to offering time shares. 

Didsbury’s next charity shop?

3. The Dog Grooming shop, In The Dog House on Barlow Moor Road is still open, defying the “How Long will it last” sweepstake kit in the South Manchester Reporter. Not sure if it’s the drop-off proximity to Albert’s Shed or the sudden influx of Pugs and Daschunds to Didsbury’s parks but well done – it’s cool as fox merchandise and breezy demeanour are superb and I’ll be in for a wet shave on Blade’s day off. 

4. The laser clinics are here, Cafe Rouge still stands like a ghost ship and we still haven’t got a Waitrose. There’s a great new clothes shop on School Lane and the Fish Masala at Sangam 2 is worth the view into the Karma Sutra. 
I had the perfect Didsbury conversation in Giddy Goat Toys a couple of weeks ago. I was having a natter with Mrs Goat when Jed the Windowcleaner, complete with Manchester City sweatshirt breezed in. Our three-way conversation moved seamlessly from childcare, the weather and Bisou Bisou, to children and the angst and stress caused by them being led astray in their choice of football team. Mid myopic drone all three of us turned to the patient and brave mother at the till buying her 4 children presents with a hearty “Eid Mubarak” before settling back to judgemental football chat. Anyone who takes more than one non-sleeping child into a toy shop deserves respect. 

  Rumour has it that Zizzi shut after failing to win planning permission for this extension.

Next week – the perils of poverty discussed through the prism of the Bloke selling Sticky Toffee Pudding in too pushy a manner outside The Cheese Hamlet last Saturday. 


Top 10 Didsbury Tips for 2013

A busy week in our house. The British love affair with non-specific winter viruses always interests me. Whether its Noro Virus, Winter Colds, Avian vs Swine (surely the follow up to Alien v Predator) it’s all headlines. It seems each year that the fact we live in a damp region of an Island in the North Sea is forgotten by the time a disappointing summer has given way to a beautiful October and then overcast until a week in May.

Living in Manchester we don’t have the glamour of highland whiteouts or Coastal flash floods to brag about BUT if it’s a chest infection, bad stomach or general cold we are without peer. I believe in the power of multi-vitamins, flu jabs and positive thinking, so a weekend of spectacular emissions from both ends of all the Didsbury Dad trio has been an unwelcome intrusion into reality. Didsbury Wife and I also succumbed to … The virus and I was left to count new blessings this morning. Thank you grandparents for a few free hours to sleep, sleep and consider what I have encountered in prampushing around the haircut capital of the North…

1. The Didsbury Lounge: opening soon and a welcome addition to BarlowMoor Road. I checked records and it will be the first non hairdressers to open on the road since records began and the fit out looks promising. I look forward to leaving the twins at home and sneaking out for a crafty word or two with friends.

2. Elm Interiors Closing Down Sale: this is a Didsbury tradition, as established as an over-enthusiastic smoker flagging you down to talk City if you stop at the lights by The Nelson between 7pm and Midnight. One day it will shut and we will lose the slight whiff of bath bombes in the village but chances are it will be back with some name combination. Of Elm, House and Interiors.

3. The rise of Community Index. It’s a great read. A combination of local people, local adverts and useful info. It was nearly squashed by the gloss of Didsbury Magazine, a pointlessly Hale and Altrincham focused advert that takes less time to read than a takeaway menu. I read it and wonder if there is another Didsbury I’ve never heard of that still thinks its 1998 and chrome is the new black. Also disappointingly unabsorbant when Didsbury Son uses it to dry his Lacrosse boots.

4. Fletcher Moss: so much beauty on our doorstep. I had a brief recce to check the possibility of getting around with a double buggy. I can’t wait to introduce the mighty head and his smiley sister to the joy of the boardwalk, the river, the gardens and the Alpine Tea Rooms. It already has me wistful at the thought.

5. Festival season: As the Baftas herald the Oscars so Didsbury Arts Festival beckons Didsbury Festival, Cavfest, WestFest and Didsbury Barberfest when every one of Didsbury’s 6000 hairdressers marches hand in hand through the village singing “Who Will Buy This Wonderful Morning”.

6. The rise of The Reporter. I love The Reporter. Many years ago in baggier times I wrote a pop column for it which only promoted friends. The Reporter is still a heady mix of the good and bad, the campaigning and the minutiae. Personally, I like the minutiae and its classifieds are still a colourful crawl through the city’s underbelly.

7. U-turns and HS2 hassle. The antidote to the arrival of The Metrolink would seem to be the potential loss of Palatine Road to a train tunnel. Not got my head around it yet.

8. I’ve never actually seen anyone going up the stairs to either Karma Sutra Massage or Didsbury Conservative Club but somebody must do; I will keep my eyes peeled and let you know.

9. The Metrolink: the station in Didsbury was chosen especially to be next to AiryFairy CupCake Boutique. On Lapwing Lane they chose Fusion Deli and at Parrs Wood they just needed somewhere Tarantino could make the follow-up to Django Unchained.

10. Siemens building will turn out to be a conduit for alien contact similar to Men in Black 2. A long shot, but you never know.


The proposed imaginary badger cull in The Archers has forced many of them north. We found this one inside our TV.


Didsbury Wife spots a snowdrop

2012 – Barack Obama,, Sebastian Coe, Didier Drogba and Didsbury Son

It might seem a bit obvious to say this has been a big year for us but, it has been a very big year. Didsbury Son got a major role in the Year 6 school play. His bravura performance warranted at least a picture in the South Manchester Reporter. It was a natural antidote to taxijackings, muggings, charity bike rides and pictures of our MP John Leech but no, it was left to me to write an unbiased review for the family email list,

” Brilliant, a stunning performance and a rare departure from sitting on the couch watching Futurama or David Attenborough” – His father.

Something's going down on stage, not sure quite what

Something’s going down on stage, not sure quite what


once these were filled it all changed

This was just the start; a year of sporting prowess saw me walking up and down stairs numerous times. Initially satisfying the cravings of pregnant Didsbury Wife for having me walk up and down stairs with cups of tea and latterly, with The Didsbury Twins. Having won a gold in the combined powerlifting and the triathlon ( carry them both up together, change them without a “waah” and return to mother without disturbing the dummy), I am creaky but hopeful. Didsbury son, in the most fantastical.Didsbury way, was worried that dummies may make them look Chavvy. Having experienced the noise of two crying babies at one time he soon became a convert – needs must.

For us this has been a year of change – new arrivals at home, Didsbury Son moving from the handholding minutiae of junior school to the fend for yourself bewilderment of senior school and the happy and sad family moments. We have had birth, mirth and departure. All part of life but it still takes you by surprise when life happens. If you are lucky enough to sail past 39 years and 364 days but you haven’t experienced the agony and ecstasy then you are poorer for it. Living next to somewhere as magnificent as Christie’s Cancer Hospital is a reminder of how fantastic and harsh life can be amid the Olive Tofu, 4x4s and hairdressers on tap in South Manchester.

Before I get too philosophical and begin counting my blessings a la Little House on the Prairie style, let me also point out that being in the sun for Christmas was brilliant and my first thought on getting home (well second after “How quickly can I get on 5Live?”) was ” who turned the lights off?”

British winter daylight is effectively 9-12 each day (clouds permitting) and this leaves Didsbury Son 10 hours a day to move between iPod, TV, computer and tablet.

So happy new year for 2013 from Didsbury Dad, Son, wife and twins. This year has seen most aspects of our lives change. It is not the sleepless nights, tennis elbow, cold tea, being thrown upon daily – that is the tip of the good stuff. It is the knowledge that this is a rare time to grasp and absorb.

Didsbury Wife will not breastfeed the twins in public. When I asked her why, thinking it was shyness, a touch of the prude or fear of being stared at, her answer surprised me. She told me that you never know if there is someone in the room who has had a miscarriage, been unable to conceive or has had anything in their life that could be made worse by a little triumphalism at the next table. Whilst I think feeding in public is fine and it is a free choice, it was this thought more than any other that made me realise my good fortune and how crass it would sound to moan about being tired. That and living within crawling distance of an M&S Simply Food and 36 hairdressers.

Have a lovely holiday season – back with more nonsense next year.

Whilst abroad we checked out different methods of childcare

Whilst abroad we checked out different methods of childcare

Didsbury Dad’s Real resolution guide

Suddenly it’s June. This is always a shock. The year is only 5/12 done but the halfway stage is looming. That means the date when you have officially failed your new year resolutions and can consign the year to another finger-crossing, 6 ball watching, gym ignoring non-nominated mulch is 4 weeks away.

How you react depends on whether or not your glass is

A) half-full

B) unwashed and growing the kind of cultures that helped discover Penicillin

C) somewhere under the February “South Manchester Reporter”

D) you’re preparing for the future by moving onto beakers that don’t break with lipped lips to sip through.

This means you are…

A) inspired by the challenge of getting the resolutions done in 6 months and already looking at the list positively. Lose ten pounds – Grand National. Cut down drinking – a good idea after 9pm to avoid getting up in the night. Decorate the house – Does re-piling the defunct paperwork count?

B) You are not bothered. The spurt of conscience or promise of pleasure that spurred your resolution left with the tree. There’s The European Championships, The Didsbury Festival and Wimbledon* to slouch through.
* tennis is not actually a proper sport as the action is too quick to heckle properly and they sit down for lemon and barley water every five minutes.

C) In for a shock. One bored midweek night you are going to tackle a stack for recycling, stumble upon your inadequacies and spend a maudlin night regretting everything from the school disco snog you didn’t clinch to the eureka moment that someone else developed to multi-award winning loveydom. Be warned, no amount of counting your blessings sleeping blissfully upstairs will counter this effectively.

D) Ready to repeat 2011’s indifference and shuffle one year nearer the inevitability of having a teenager in the house and getting to an age you can give up.

The problem with the cloud is you can’t just discretely lose pieces of paper. That vodka inspired, over-emotional annual bucket list you tapped gracelessly into your tablet at stupid AM on January 2nd is there in the corner of your screen summoning you like a permanent nagging conscience with a PDF tail.

So, in the spirit of Didsbury Dad-Dom I read mine on June 1st and was shocked. I had actually done some of them, in fact more than half. Others are work in progress and only a couple of the usual suspects lurk un-attended in the recesses of my psyche.

This felt like finding a 2 1/2 month old lottery ticket with 4 numbers. So my resolutions in January 2013 may include aiming for 5. Good luck when you find yours. I’m off to count blessings and do sit-ups before a Didsbury Village Farmshop treat.


Palatine Road, Take Me Home

I have just spent a week away on an allegedly glamorous job in a guilded city. Now I normally take a South Manchester Reporter and a pic of Didsbury Library with me if I’m on an overnight, so 5 days with no Fusion Deli, no Greenhalgh v Greggs Strategy and 5 days without wondering what some of the shops on School Lane sell would be tricky.

5 days with no Didsbury Son. The novelty of no questions, access to a television and use of my own computer wore off by the end of Day 1.

By the end of Day 2 I could almost wish to trail behind him as he moonwalked out of clothes, toys and gadgets to pick them up disapprovingly.

By 3, the joy of homework and tooth brushing seemed like a gift and by the end of Day 4 I was willing to watch Star Wars.

What I also noticed was a little heartwarming reciprocity. Our first afternoon call was 8 bored seconds drowned out by CBBC. By day 4 it was as though we had met in a bar in Alaska having found out we went to our first teenage party together at Didsbury Scout Hut.

I made a triumphant return. Didsbury Wife and Son were out, thin moody lady cat harrumphed a bit and sloped in as I unloaded the car and began remarking my territory.

I thought back to the space I had just enjoyed in one of Britain’s top fast foodesque hotel chains. The UHT treated portion millac(R) that always makes the tea taste of plastic more than milk. The power shower with the average flow of an octogenarian and the walls so paper thin I was able to clap along with the amorous couple next door.

The freedom of eating a takeaway in bed squinting at a TV that only spiderman could have placed was only trumped by the 3am fire alarm, accompanied by tatooed cheers from the bar floors below. Wilmslow Road, you never looked so good.

The homecoming didn’t really start until Didsbury Fat Cat, sensing a treat or two began to swish around me like a Stoke centre-half at a corner.

This was just a warm-up. Didsbury Son leapt at me like he was four again. I swirled him around and remembered all the good things about being Didsbury Dad.

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