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 Mighty-Headed Boy”

More of the same please

 On the wall is a picture of the twins at 1-day old with my hands around their tiny heads. My pearly princess looks angry. Eyes screwed up, she is bemoaning the need for oxygen and probably hoping The Mighty Headed Boy will shut up; he hasn’t. You may not see much of old friends but you do get to pet a lot of goats.

His huge round head – like an animated bowling ball reflects a sense of anxious confusion which lasted a few weeks before settling into a bullish, balletic enthusiasm that never drops below flat out. And Alpacas

This, a picture of a hairless, toothless and smiling Didsbury Son aged 4 months and a tear stained screenshot of the winning goal in an improbable cup final are my gallery of inspiration. Mighty

This week the twins are 5. I know this without checking any calendars. I know this because I look 10 years older, have not seen any of my friends voluntarily since 2013 and my hips, elbows and knees creak like a Caribbean gazebo in a hurricane. Pearly
I’ve been through this before, but the prospect of them being 5 is terrifying and baffling. 5, that’s half a decade, add a decade to them and they’re surly strangers who no longer think I’m wonderful.
The 5 years seem like seconds and an eternity. My life pre-twins seems as distant as a Sunday afternoon black and white war film. I remember it, but it could just be a film.
It also seems like seconds ago I was showing off walking downstairs with one in each arm and they were inert smiley blobs that were 90% head. 
5. I can’t call them boddlers or toddlers at 5. I can’t pretend that they’re babies anymore – although I still think I’m slightly in shock. I can empathise with the 50 items in a big transformer type bag that new parents have, but our commonality is drifting. All I need are the occasional pair of extra pants and the ability to produce Kinder Eggs on demand. 
In every way they are a joy to me and the very busy centre of my world. Their little successes are ones I am openly a big softy about and their trials fill my thoughts. It is the most wonderful curse and one that removes you from many of the arenas and people you used to crave.
I’m a dull doting dad and I love it. In Emma Jane Unsworth’s brilliant book (soon to be film) “Animals” the response to a pregnancy announcement is “Another one lost for a decade.”

I’m halfway there and happily lost. 

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Doctor Who and a Perfect Day

Five Go Mad in Murcia

Last week I gained new insight into an old conundrum. My timelines on Social Media and news / phone-ins were full of Jodie Whittaker’s forthcoming re-incarnation as Doctor Who. I understand more fully how those with no kids feel on the first day of school when Facebook becomes home to albums of uncomfy children in starchy blazers. These pictures are of great significance to those involved but utterly dull wallpaper to those not. I have no view on Doctor Who. I’ve only watched it a couple of times (1975 and 2005) and have never been interested. This has provoked outraged shock amongst (usually single and OCD) peers but in my world if you don’t know your Trevor Steven from your Gary Stevens you lack moral fibre, so it’s each to their own. I made sure Didsbury Son was busy when Doctor Who was on and the Didsbury Twins are too young. The outrage regarding a female Doctor was fascinating, some of the arguments to and against genuinely moving. My interest was only engaged as the announcement fell into that black hole that is weekend life between the end of the football season and the start of pre-season friendlies. Gary Stevens or Trevor Steven?
So thankfully, we are now in Spain and a bit like Didsbury, we are in an expensive house near a couple of good tapas bars. I am burning nicely, clasping naps wherever possible. I have a cycle of swim, get too hot, have cold drink, snooze. That is apart from the 17 hours a day this is interrupted by  the Mighty Headed Boy’s one volume fits all and the nice bits of daddom. This holiday is all about learning to swim for the little ones.  Sadly once more overlooked to be the Doctor.

My sunburned English shoulders are replete with the claw marks of an occasional 4 year old water panic. My ears are attuned to the “Daddy can I wee in the pool again?” Shouts and I am having moments of genuine relaxation. This is despite the fact that being in a pool with your children involves you mainly being kicked, jumped on and mildly assaulted for most of the time. Waving, not drowning. 

In three days I haven’t touched the Oemeprozole and since deleting Facebook from my phone and turning on the “Out of Office” I am semi-zen.

Didsbury Son is 16 next week. This is inconceivable. My little Blondini is packed full of ironic comments and “banter”. He has also made friends easily and with such aplomb I am reassessing my wincing response. With as near to calm throughout as you can have with teens, toddlers and parents in one space I have had more time to navel gaze, obsess and promise to never eat crisps on British soil again until my shadow looks more human, less cartoon.

I like the easy rhythm of a holiday in a villa. Breakfast can be anything from 3 minutes to 3 hours and encompass a range from toast to tapas with red wine.

Didsbury Wife is serene. Effortlessly parenting and arguments between The Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly Princess seem less troublesome when you’re overlooking an azure sea, they prove that Dora the Explorer really does teach Spanish and my hardest decision is which factor Sun cream to apply.

Ojalá todos los días podrían ser así.

As I always say.

Evans, Delia and There’s No Place Like Home

 Look – not one pointless apostrophe or errant comma.

I am to blame. Me and others like me. “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Show a man Eddie at Evans and he will joss half his wages on a Royal Dorade and Samphire.” Until… the cost of twins at Boots, the inability to walk more than 50 yards without a Costa and the come hither ease of M&S fish porn mean that a wallet-emptying, life-enhancing trip to Evans becomes less regular. 

My grandmother first took me to Evans. After my pram was pushed to Inman’s, I held my Didsbury Grandmother’s hand as we went to the “new fish shop” to buy Hake which then became the greatest Gefilte Fish (chopped and boiled or fried) each week.   Exotic seafood

I have wooed on the back of their langoustines but recently, laziness and children have reduced me to roll mops and kippers. As Hamlet said, “oh that this too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a Fish Stew (ish). 

If the staff takeover works I’ll be back next week with a Halibut hop and the jauntiness of a cheeky bream. 

And so to Delia’s. It’s not all Hispi Chic and Botanist beauty in M20 (although I have offered to trade a child for their Salt’n’Pepper Onion). Delia’s Gone. I remember original Delia. I was an impressionsble teen, she was a bit vibrant and scary and I think I had a crush on her between Banaramama and Clare Grogan. The flowers were a treat I learned went down well. Delia sadly died but her name has gone on for several decades with brilliant Darren most recently running the shop and the delivery from Holland. The wall full of bath bombs looked like an admission of failure and smelled awful but we need a Delia’s in the village and should hang our heads at the ease with which we slipped into the garage or Tescos. I told him to get a Costa Machine in to bring in the punters.     When Delia’s closure was announce people movingly rushed to put flowers outside as a tribute.

What next? Will Karma Sutra move downstairs? Is there room for a new Waitrose? How can these shut when Bourbon & Black stays open? 

With Felicini’s / Mud Crab / Y Fabrica changing its name every week and Manor Service Station becoming an Off Licence these are strange days. The village centre is starting to feel a bit empty and the rents are proving prohibitive. This is not strong and stable. However it does mean that traditional Didsbury is now probably epitomised by one of our oldest residents, Kansas Fried Chicken.

I’m still working away a lot at the moment but I know now. Whenever I’m homesick I click my red Nike Air Force Ones and say “There’s No Place Like Home, can I have Chicken gravy?”  

 The new official colours of Didsbury – Melchester Rovers. 

Lego, Trump and Guantanamo.

The Mighty Headed boy and I have spent the last hour or two making lego. We’ve built a thingy, a few seats and something that would look good in Guantanamo Bay High Security wing. Small hands, big plans

My job has been to lie on the floor and do what I’m told. (How many first dates have ended that way?) I am the lego separator and the audience for his commentary that has continued with the persistent pragmatism usually reserved for a land invasion with air support. 

Your average sports commentator would have had to refer to pundit, co-commentator and catering by now. Not here. All that has been needed is an occasional Starburst. 90 minutes of commentary, songs about the continents, occasionally Jesus and infrequent random shouting have accompanied the building of a tower as improbably conceived as the new president’s golden erection in New York. (Incidentally the boy also reflects the president in blaming others when questioned. The Hula Hoop investigation continues. The Mighty-Headed Boy. The lego is actually four feet high. 

This has been soothing in ways expensive therapies can only get near. It takes me back to being Didsbury Son’s sounding board as he 

Created worlds I could not imagine and found entertainment where I saw a cul de sac. 
I think I am lucky. I was happy with 0, 1 and 3 heirs to the Didsbury Eczema. To have a second run at the golden years when you are essentially an heroic Climbing Frame that produces Kinder Eggs on demand is usually worth the sleep depravation, joint damage, worry, money consuming, intimacy disabling Years that are behind and ahead of me. Tourists

The Life Domestique and Things I Will Never Do.

  Inspiration comes in many forms

This morning I am all about altruism. Knowing that in the game of competitive tiredness it’s the space above your eyebrows that gives you away, I took one for the team.

The Pearly Princess was in my bed before I was. An hour broken by kicking (her) and snoring (me) later I ushered Didsbury Wife to the spare room. In our house this is an act of supreme sacrifice. It currently has the best bed and is the quietest room in the house. 

What followed was being shifted around the mattress by a 4 year old girl with the moving capability of a JCB. That was before The Mighty Headed Boy made a 4am entrance reminiscent of Chris Eubank in his prime. He jumped in, head-butted me and fell asleep at an angle that left me with one foot on the floor and no hope of duvet. 

We danced, argued, watched Chloe’s Closet on my phone allowing me 8 minute bursts of sleep before I gave up and got up.

There was a tip to get to, an “our washing machine’s broken this week” worth of laundretting and in my head I wanted to keep them out long enough for Didsbury Wife to catch that rarest of parental dreams, waking naturally. 

We had a lovely two hours, broken only by intermittent rushes due to toilet calls wrong time, wrong place. 

This much I know I’ll never do…

1. Driving past the tip 10 minutes before it opens there was already a road-blocking queue. Why? Do you want to be the first bin bag in the skip? Is your family so abysmal that waiting in line as though there was rationing is ok? Never.  No no no

2. Buy The Daily Mail or The Sun. No laundrette stay is long enough to justify giving money or time to these divisive, hypocritical, dangerous rags. (However good the sports section seems). 

3. Clean the car in the drive at a weekend. I may not be Mr Rock’n’Roll any more but neither am I “Terry & June”.

4. Start a conversation in a laundrette… again. I prefer Supernanny for tips on raising children, immigration and well, everything.
5. Interrupt a small child watching Blaze & The Monster Machines. You’d get a better reaction tagging a teenager on Facebook with their primary school pictures.
Everything else is negotiable. 

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

Home is not just a cinema or the church cafe

. When Felicini’s became the Mudflap cafe I nearly cried. It’s glossy black sign and euphemistic name was a part of my history and stood proudly in the same giggling pointlessness of changing The Cheese Hamlet to Helmet. Now, with the stripped back wood still settling in to Gregg’s and an eviscerated Inman’s being re-imagined as Thai favourite The Chilli Banana I am almost out of my depth.
felicinsmud-crabfutureistic-pic evolution
At least it’s only 8 months until Didsbury Festival returns in its usual format – unchanged since Bonnie Prince Charlie led the procession, which featured the 88th Scouts.
This is Didsbury. A wheel turning and creating new identities – including cash converting, laser surgery, fifteen diet clubs and an ever growing coterie of Pet Grooming services. Only 86% of trading premises in Didsbury serve coffee, 71% cut hair (human or canine). Didsbury Library is a portal to 1973. I go there when I only have tuppence ha’penny and need a cup of tea (coffee not being invented until The Premier League started in 1992).
The other big news is that Didsbury Dad Towers is no longer in Didsbury. We are now a castle, a Didsbury Diaspora outpost.
In a year that has seen us cough up more in Stamp Duty than the national debt we have moved twice. First out of the village to near the river and now, out of town.
We have moved so far away that we are the cultural diversity. It’s a city, it’s semi-rural and it’s not Didsbury.
So I am part-time Didsbury Dad. I am still working in my capacity as Meeja Luvvie doing something non-specific in MediaCity – but only weekdays.
It is strange. All Didsbury Son has known is Didsbury. My life with Didsbury Wife has been played out to the backdrop of Piccolino and Barlowmoor Road. The Mighty Headed Boy and the Pearly Princess are Harriet & Dee. But. We have begun to sever the link for a period of time.
It’s only been a few weeks and it’s still a bit like being on holiday. It does make you realise how easy it can be living somewhere that is the edge of the metropolis, has travel options to envy and it’s all in walking distance.
It’s early days yet. I have had to develop a whole new rhythm to each day. I am a little lost without my morning fix of Pete, Tom and Claire at Fusion Deli after a cheery wave from Darren at Delia’s Florist. There is no Piccolino, Bisous Bisous, St. James & Emmanuel and I don’t know everyone.
This has great advantages. When I get my Fusion fix the coffee tastes great and I have stories to share. I now know just how good New Peking House is and sometimes the anonymity is liberating.
I think I will always be a Didsbury Dad wherever we live. My Gamma Male, liberal approach to life on the Focaccia line is settled. We may be away for a short time or for good, not decided yet. But Didsbury Wife, Son and I are M20 raised and made and know the difference between a good idea and some of the money pit no chances that we’ve seen trying to cash in on the perceived wealth in Didsbury.
The boddlers are still confused. On Saturday, as we perused the rolling hills and unfamiliar accents that surround us, they clamoured for the sweet shop on Dene Road. As we walked through the Metrolinkless roads they wondered where all the Magic Buses were.
Starting from scratch after a life in the subsidised suburban bliss of M20 is exciting. But I think we’ll be coming regularly. It’s not just home, a river runs through it.

John Lewis, Lemmy, Shiny Shoes and Me

I have looked into the darkest recesses of suburban hell. I have walked through the eye of a perfect storm and heard the clash of cymbals that heralds carnage. I have mixed metaphors and mixed them badly. It takes more than one issue and on Sunday the axis of evil was swinging and I fell into its arms.
The ingredients were ominous. First Sunday of the year and the day before we realise how little prepared we are for work and how much two weeks’ gluttony adds to the individual. The John Lewis Sale. Twin three-year olds being taken by Didsbury Mum and Didsbury Grandma shoe shopping; with me as wingman. Only one twin fully and consciously toilet-trained. Our 10am planned start delayed until the 11.30am, carnage hour.    Not John Lewis Sale, but not far off (c) Getty

The sign over the doors at John Lewis normally reads ” Never Knowingly Undersold”. In these circumstances, where parking and getting to the door with toddlers whose navigation skills resemble those of a current Manchester United striker trying to find the goal, it may as well say “Welcome to Hell, Men.”

 Wayne and pals reveal new training methods.

I was thinking that instead of pre-nuptial, living together or any other tests you may decide necessary prior to confirming lifetime commitment, this is more realistic and a better guide to comparability. If you can negotiate the John Lewis Sale with small children, older grandparents, on a Sunday, after a fortnight’s indulgence without wanting to cry or never talk to anyone you walked in with ever again it’s done. Not only could there be lifelong love, but house-buying, childbirth, teenage kids – doddle.

We made it. It wasn’t easy. But we made it.

After my in-store parental masterclass of missed toddler toilet time and trying to peel shiny stilettos from The Mighty Headed Boy left me nearly beaten.

After a chase through the cafe with a Pearly Princess far more nimble and quicker in a tight turn I don’t think I gained new friends. It must have been like watching a Labrador chase a Chihuahua.

 (C) http://www.chihuaha-people.com

John Lewis cafe is a fantastic place to show off your new progeny. From 12 days old (their first visit) to 12 months old (their last welcome visit), you and they are doted upon. Staff carry your trays, strangers coo and you are top of the food chain. At 39 months in, no. Your baby (ies)’ gurgle has evolved to “Daddy, Poo” delivered at a volume which would make Lemmy proud. The glassy eyes lolling in a car seat is now a full-throttled charge with commentary at aforementioned volume and you realise you forgot your pre-shop Valium.

 Calm and happy thoughts

This is why The Wacky Warehouse (aka the 6th wheel of Hell) is your release in these years. You already have immunity to the wall of sound. Searching through a ball pool whilst being dive bombed by little ones is a pleasant distraction to the thought that there will be more John Lewis shoe shopping at sale time before they slope off and want to go without you. Then you miss this and them more than you imagined.

A Christmas Navel Gaze

As the elves begin their final checks, the reindeer carb up for the journey and Jose Mourinho ponders the failure of his own messianic second coming I have been thinking about Didsbury Dad Towers as we prep for the latest sugar rush and present heist.

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Dinner for four or magnificent carriage – you decide

The Mighty Headed Boy is already beside himself with excitement; he’s only beside himself as the weight of expectation he carries needs two little boys. The birthday was great. Halloween’s premise of wearing a costume for sweets from strangers magnificent but this? Christmas, off the back of Chanucah and its chocolate coins is almost too good to be true.
Every night the Advent chocolate fairy leaves him a pre-breakfast treat. One night he tried a chocolate under his pillow to see if the tooth fairy would leave him a tooth. Then, some fat bloke and his deer pop in with presents. He is a convert and a zealot and already has his eyes on the Christingle orange that the St. James & Emmanuel elves are currently making.

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No particular reason – just love this photo

Whilst he promenades his joy and sings carols with gusto, the Pearly Princess is more measured – not quite sure why this is happening but savvy enough to know that lights in the house, late nights out with kisses and presents is a good gig not to be messed with.

We are the inbetweeners. The twins are not sure what’s going on but have essentially worked out that Eid and Chanucah are the warm up act in their lives for Santa Claus telling Father Christmas that his baby reindeer needs a stable to watch Cinderella on UK Gold; simple.

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Sadly for The Archers, The Grundy’s turkeys had not thought through their escape plan properly.

Didsbury Son is inbetween childhood excitement and grown up enjoyment. Anxious about the presents being right, practising indifference but keen to be key to the party. Fourteen is the awkward age. My little blondini squeaking his excitement at the wonderland of Christmas Day is still in there, suppressed by Lynx and Hormones. The teenage fight for independence is also keen for a bigger part and the magic of the season is going to have to put in a good shift.

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The poultry and fowl against Christmas scout keeps an eye out for trouble

Next year will see raised consciousness all around so this is probably the last year for a decade we can get away with kiddie fob offs and a lie in until 5.45 when The Mighty Headed Boy, like Chris Eubank in his prime, announces his presence to the world; every day is like Christmas.

The Lion King, Parkin and Steven Spielberg

How you celebrate festivals as a child is crucial as to how you deliver them to your own friends and family. My Didsbury mum, auntie and extended entourage celebrated everything. Bonfire night was all tomato soup outside with treacle toffee, Parkin and anxiety amid the awe that a Catherine Wheel would take my eye out. 70s safety adverts lacked nuance but were packed with graphics to scar the psyche permanently. Once I found out the reasons behind Bonfire Night I loved it more, immediately taking the side of the conspirators; a normal Northern reaction. Jewish New year meant apples and honey; Eid brought pistachio sweets from Syrian friends of the original Didsbury Dad. 

  This is apparently cutting edge Anime. I thought it was from Pink Floyd. 

This was too exotic for words. Remember this was the when the Queen was in her 40s. If you had pineapple people thought you had won the pools* (Note 1). 

We also loved Christmas. Our house was decoration free and no pigs had blankets. Non-participation at home gave me the best out to see everyone else’s. To me, a decorated Christmas tree was the epitome of cool and I am still a sucker for a string of lights and a chocolate bauble. I also get giddy on FA Cup 3rd Round Day (Bovril), Winter Solstice (Cake and Wine) and anything celebrated with fried chicken.  

 High-tech Halloween.

The next generation are already starting to shape their own future. My pearly princess is a happy soul and easy going spirit who skips lightly through whatever is infront of her. Didsbury Son likes the detail and the art of a festival and The Mighty Headed Boy found Nirvana on Saturday in Didsbury.

He has been through the excitement of Christmas and greeted it with an enthusiasm that could be lifelong. He has sampled the best Friday night Dinner chicken soup and given it a toddlers’ thumbs up but… Nothing will ever match the logic and sheer joy of Halloween.  

 The

 

Dressed up as a monster with hands free and mouth available he knocked on strangers’ doors, shouted Trick before mumbling incoherently and they gave him sweets and chocolates. 
The generosity of Didsbury was quite stunning. Across M20 the pumpkins were out and the kids from 0-teenage were welcomed with open bowls and quirky sweets. It was uplifting in all the best ways. 

In terms of training children to anticipate danger this would seem as appropriate as the 1970s BBC giving Jimmy Saville a show making children’s dreams come true; but he loved it. 

Mind blown, plastic bucket filled and several blocks shaken down for Haribo, he sat on the couch like Mufasa showing off Simba to the animal kingdom. 

Had he not been surfing the wave of a sugar rush I am sure he would have turned to me and told me, Jawsesque, “Daddy, We’re going to need a bigger bucket”
* Pre Lottery, pre scratch cards, pre Big Brother and Sky this was your best way to upgrade to a Vauxhall Firenza. 

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