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 “The Archers”

A New Dawn. Not always a good morning

What a week. It has been huge whatever your politics, the changes have been seismic. As an avowed liberal, with lefty intentions and a distaste for dogma – my “Live and let live” philosophy has been tested. My pacifist facade was dented by breaking out into cheering when a masked protestor punched a smug far-rightist live on TV. I found the Women’s March uplifting and Grayson Perry’s comment that “you won’t find a babysitter left in North London” the kind of self-aware reasoning I love. Let’s hear it for the Metropolitan, Metrosexuals, the liberals. We may park badly and have too many kitchen implements but whatever your religion, ethos or kink; it’s your business. (*obviously if any of the children came home and seriously wanted to follow Man United or give up Houmous I may need a rethink). We scatter these Basil Leaves over organic Mozarella as a symbol of freedom. 



The great thing about family life is that it levels any great stance you take and it’s constant rhythm cannot be ignored. Your priorities are not always your children’s. 
Didsbury Wife and I were about to try and digest Didsbury Son’s confession that he hadn’t watched the inauguration but had seen some memes on Snapchat (is it just Snap now? Or Chat? Or hell for parents of teenagers?) when the toddler’s clarion call for bottom wiping came from the bathroom. Prioriities are clear. Noddy and Big Ears symbolise the kind of accepting partnership we need going forward. 

Our outraged viewing of Trumpy and Melon and cooing over Barrack and Michelle was interrupted as it was boring and we’d promised they could watch Numberjacks. As it turned out this was a good move. Zero the Hero resonated. 

I have tried to think of reasons to celebrate beyond feeling smugly educated and not that fat as I watched this dangerous man take power and his supporters being interviewed. They may be in power now, the blight of Nationalism is rearing its putrid head. But. This is what I came up with. 
1. It has given me a chance to get out my Redskins collection and play “Neither Washington Nor Moscow” a lot. 
2. Late on Friday night after everyone had gone to bed I sat up and had a contemplative cup of tea. As the tea brewed I remembered a Twirl at the bottom of my work bag. There are few solo pleasures that beat hot tea and a Twirl with The Archers on in the background on iPlayer. Rob Tichener sacked, next step Washington. 
3. Every time I doubt my own sanity I just think of the mammoth I saw on TV from “Ohio Against Satanists” and feel better.
4. We are probably having the same conversations we had when George W Bush came in. It just seems more gung-ho, more nasty and less to do with anything noble. 
5. Didsbury Son has it covered and if he needs a balaclava to go out protesting I have one ready for him. 
The Redskins – Bring It Down https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RgaAKP3Pd8o

Life on the Farm Day 2

Life on the Farm – Day 2:

We will get to the 3 year olds party later – it’s breach of liberal South Manchester gender politics being stunning but…  Everyone in the country has posh China 
Once I had got over my disappointment that none of The Archers were dropping in for scrumpy and Marry Your Cousin night I relaxed and began to enjoy country life. The 7 year old son of the farmer took me and The Mighty Headed Boy on a tour of tractors, Combine Harvesters (bigger than an average Didsbury New Build) and grain stores. His rugged nimbleness – part goat, part boy made me guess that he had never sipped a Babyccino, but he could deliver a calf and strip an engine. My urbane toddler hoofed his way into the cockpit of a tractor and gurned appreciatively. 

The party was interesting – nearly 3 somethings are the same everywhere. The mums all know each other, communicate hourly on Social Media and had spent weeks of planning and days of craftwork creating a brilliant party. The men turned up and were then re-routed to the pub where we spent three hours. I even drank a pint of Stella quickly to prove my manliness before queasily sipping soda and lime and slipping an Oemeprozole into my peanuts. For the mothers this was another 3 hours solo toddler entertaining, for Didsbury Wife, outnumbered. No talking , just a frenzy of E numbers, accidents and rinsing trousers. We returned triumphantly having bonded and avoided politics (there were southerners) and I did my parental duty feeling lovely middle-class guilt. I also saw a new life – one called the 1970s where men could avoid engaging with their children or making a contribution – it looked a bit beige. To paraphrase Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of Pampers first thing in the morning.”
The guest house in the country was stunning. Run by the non-Jewish, 40 something version of My Didsbury Mum, we were fed home made biscuits and fresh coffee, pampered and generally treated like aristocracy for a wonderful 18 hours.  

   
 But in every life there are battles. There are challenges that must be faced, parapets that must be stood upon. In my life I have eaten a full English or two. I have had porridge, with and without jam to start my day and I have gone to work on an egg. Toast – brown or white? Fruit? Bring it on. Coffee is a great breakfast and on occasion, a hot croissant sets you up for the day. Never have I been faced with them all on one table, in one go. Didsbury Wife and I worked and worked. I cried for trousers with an active comfort waist and eventually, as the last mushroom was chewed – silence. A Pyrrhic victory. We are definitely coming back in a couple of months once we can breathe normally again. The scene is one of carnage –  the local population are in shock.  

The Farmers Boys – In The Country

Homer Simpson, Didier Drogba, The Archers and Me

This is a gruelling time of year. School age children are all out of attention span and too far into the year to really care. The clear Manchester air often leaves baby chests clogged and the 4am dawn is a siren call to the under 5s.

In addition there are now up to 6 hours of live international football on TV each day that can run between 5pm and 4am. Oh and there’s work and family life.

This can stretch the strategic skills and slothful indiscipline of the most indifferent dad, let alone someone like me. Someone who hears Ivory Coast v Japan and sees it as a cultural duty to stay up and honour the culinary heritage of these great nations, whilst falling asleep on the couch, head lolling in a tribute to Homer Simpson.

So praise your deity (fate and other non-deity touchstones are available ) for Fathers Day the morning after England’s 1am finish. Whether it’s a goldfish or offspring of Amish proportions, claim that right and milk it as though you were auditioning for parlour maid’s role in The Archers.

I have mixed feelings about Fathers Day. When Didsbury Son was little his excitement was infectious and made me feel unworthy for all my little less than perfect thoughts. Now, I count my blessings that I receive and am able to give Fathers Day cards. Coming late to the party keeps me aware that for many people this is a difficult day for a variety of reasons and you can’t always have a World Cup to distract you.
Some years this awfulness is compounded by Wimbledon being newsworthy and clogging up radio and TV in the two weeks it hogs the limelight. This year it’s all football and midnight toddler milk runs have the bonus of late night TV from South America.
I’m just perfecting my Capirahna and Aptamil.

My Father’s Day ticked so many boxes it qualified for Arts Council funding. I rolled over at 7am, 7am – that’s nearly lunchtime, to find an empty space where Didsbury Wife had gallantly taken the early shift as I luxuriated in more than four hours of continuos Zzzzzs.

After an aborted Metrolink journey ( I had forgotten they don’t work weekends), Didsbury Wife gave me one of the greatest gifts a man could receive – a family visit to The National Football Museum. I won’t describe the detail, save to say that The Mighty Headed Boy took on a whole group of Stoke fans and won and Didsbury Son is slowly embracing the beautiful game. Very slowly.
Now 2 parts rum, 1 part powdered milk and a squeeze of lime…

World Cup Tips

1. The pundits are terrible. Half time needs action – in 15 minutes you can do bottles, washing up, check homework and feed pets.
Read more…

Dads – Know Your Place

Being a dad is not always a natural and easy job. Raising children for us is a series of incidents. Some of these are life-affirming wonderful moments such as that first skin-to-skin, the first time they make their own breakfast and the first time you realise they are all asleep and you can have a cup of tea and stroke the cat in peace.

Some stretch you more than you can imagine. That school concert that clashes with an advert you’ve only seen once or the quick thinking strategy required when a nappy has burst like a dam in a storm and the wipes are just out of reach. As babies grow to children women have three basic advantages over men. First, with regard to child rearing they are innately better at pretty much every aspect. Kids may love their dads but they need their mums and from everything beginning with why a gripe at 3am needs a bottle to why the vagueness of a year 7 memory should be ignored on an exam day I, and most dads know their place.

Secondly, in a greater percentage of women is that maternal gene for reproduction that men are often unable to comprehend. Once we join the club it makes sense but it seems a bit like talking about a PHD when you are doing your GCSEs.

The third axis of maternal is the ability to forget. Once Didsbury Son (lovely, easy-going, barely a tantrum) cranked through the gears of childhood I spent many hours watching, remembering and cringing as my own see-through childhood bleating and blagging was laid out before me. I finally appreciated just how patient my own Didsbury mum and dad really were. Didsbury Son is hampered by my memory of being his own age and knowing there would always be more mileage in going to my mum. The cycle plays on.

If the women ever learn to teach and enjoy pull my finger / burp on demand or see the unending comedy in wearing pants on your head we may as well head for our own Jurassic Park.

Having twin babies is a little like being in a soap storyline. You miss a week of Corrie or Eastenders and when you switch back on the story has moved along so quickly you spend the episode thinking how? When? What? Really? I am back from 5 days away in a port city with no decent coffee shops but an accent that made me feel I was an extra in The Archers, my lovely. The change is ferocious. My mighty headed baby boy has two teeth coming through and enough hair to have bed head syndrome when he wakes up. On Skype they sat upright on the bed eagerly chewing toys, but this morning their independence in sitting, rise in appetite and the pearl-headed girl’s insistence that the morning baby porridge be low-carb were a frightening vision forward.

From Midday… Live blogging from The Didsbury Festival and tweeting from @didsburydadblog
Please join in the carnival as I try and find a quiet corner on my own

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The Jumparoo, preparing for the 2028 Olympics.

The Peterborough Effect

Didsbury Son and I are going to Peterborough, no football is involved. This is so far east of Cineworld and Virgin Active that even Rightmove does not consider it to be M20 with great access to the airport, MediaCityUK and the thriving metropolis. We have to be there very early so it’s a school time start that has Didsbury Son in two minds. When he asked me what Peterborough was like the only three things I could think of were flat, many roundabouts, second division (or whatever it’s called now it’s the 2nd tier of … Oh don’t get me started)

A foot ready to trek east

He weighed up the options carefully. On the one hand, three hour drive with the promise of high salt, low nutritional value food, uninterrupted iPod/3DS and the chance of an adventure. On the other hand a dawn start, a grumpy Didsbury Dad trying to locate glasses, keys and wallet whilst Didsbury Fat cat mewls for an early breakfast followed by the potential for 3 hours about big school, trying hard and generally doing what I say, not what I do, did or have ever done – all in an enclosed space.
I searched for bonding and entertaining things we could do whilst we were there. The nearest attractions I found were Holland.
So it is our boys’ day out. It may not be white water rafting or a Futuramathon but I have promised there will be no talk about babies, he can have at least one hand down his trousers whenever we are not eating (which to be honest does not leave that much time) and he can have Capital FM on. This swung the deal. He has not realised that the signal will go within half an hour and I can get back to phone-ins, endless Assange and being angry about The Archers becoming so dull even I am hoping for some Eastenders-esque carnage.
I am really looking forward to our day out. Not the pick-up, not the early start, but more the hours of endless mooching, small talk, shared gags and pointless conversations with neither structure nor end. Since the Metrolink took out our favourite route we have been a little stuck for the kind of aimless timewasting that can be as developmentally important as a David Attenborough and shouting at live sport on television.

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