Words I love and hate.
Firsts, lasts, births, deaths , wedding days, first ever Mojito in Miami. One of the joys and sometimes sadnesses of being old enough to wave back at your 30s is that more of those 365 days have a significance.
This has been in my head since Nelson Mandela died on Thursday night. I will recall the date and where I was effortlessly, as I can the death of Princess Diana and the previous generation the moon landings and the assassination of Kennedy. These globally momentous occasions are always joined by personal minutiae. My friend whose birthday is September 11th has had to put up with playing 2nd fiddle for years. Mention the date of Diana’s death and it evokes a thousand personal memories and I remember a particularly good away win the day before; bonfire night, my godmother died.
Everyone has their own version of these dates. When I see dates that match the birthdays of Didsbury Son or the tanklings I get a pointless, but lovely little boost.
In our family today’s date is a bitter-sweet one. It’s a lovely niece’s birthday, the anniversary of another life starting many years ago that now seems as though it is somebody else’s and on this day in 2010 the Japanese sail-powered space craft IKAROS passed within 80000 miles of Venus. What’s not to celebrate?
Today is also a landmark birthday for a close cousin who died four years ago of the disease he had spent his adult life treating people; each family has their loved one – no less painful for the circumstance.
All the usual cliches apply and although for us, today always has the edge of regret, it will be the greatest day ever for someone else and neither I, nor them will forget the humanity behind the calendar.
I think this is what you cherish as your life evolves, not the objects but the permanent markers they represent.
When Didsbury Wife and I met we decided to rewrite the poignant memories with new ones. Not to forget, but to move on and make bitter into bittersweet and indulgent into fun.
Today marks exactly 30 years and 14 days since The Smiths played The Hacienda after performing This Charming Man on Top of the Pops. I will never forget that feeling of excitement and Mancunian pride I felt when they came on stage
It is 5.25am and there is rare quiet and calm in the house. It may seem unfeasible to be up by choice now, but time is precious and in a busy house with children, on an almost sunny spring day, this is magic.
The sun is coming up over the Metrolink station and the waft of Lynx seeps under Didsbury Son’s door and throughout the house. In 5000 years the Lynx particles (which have an ability to hang around pungently in a manner that makes kippers envious) will carbon date Didsbury Son to the month. This is the post-Primary pre-Hollyoaks phase. A confusing time when joyous childhood easiness makes a last stand before the inevitable rise of the surlies.
This is the last night of the fair. By the big wheel generator, a boy is stabbed and his money is grabbed and the air hangs heavy like a. Wait, sorry that’s The Smiths, I had a flashback through the glinting sun back to the 80s.
The Mighty-Headed twin boy, whose spherical bounce is a source of both pride and wonder to me is flat out. His hands look poised to conduct and his lips purse, ready for the 6.30 kisses, changing, tickles and bottle. The pearly topped presence in the next cot down is purring and there is a hint of a smile as she sighs happily towards the edge of sleep. All 3 blessings counted I make myself a mug of tea just how I like it, safe in the knowledge this is the only drink in the next 24 hours I will be able to finish whilst its still hot.
The sound of the suburbs waking up fills my senses. The fretful mothers who feigned religious observance to get the “right” primary school for free dream of getting into illegal without being asked to move their 4x4s. The Karma Sutran staff sleep and hope their dreams will have a happy ending and in Cibo they wonder if the Venetian influence in their restaurant will be enough to see off the Didsbury Loungerians or No. 4’s small but perfectly formed army.
The village wakes up slowly. Deliveries, cleaning, early workers then schoolchildren. Bottles are banked near The Fletcher Moss and Didsbury’s 3000 hair snippers ponder where everyone will be going on holidays.
As the time slips by I have only one dilemma. Do I go and wake the twins to keep them in their routine? Or do I make myself toast and marmalade, proper coffee and sit in the garden to bask in the rays, safe in the absolute certainty that the moment I have laid out a slice of heaven on a plate the first waah will tumble down the stairs and my next view of breakfast will be of coffee with a skin so thick it could wrap around a Rhino.
When I was a young Didsbury Son my Didsbury Dad told me about the 1948 Olympics in London, rationing, how teachers would beat children and the terror and fun of the war for a child. His big night out as a 5 year old was hanging out with his friend’s dad who was an ARP warden, before heading home for a finger of peanut butter. They could then listen to the radio to see who wanted to kill them next.
It seemed to me ancient and archaic; a black and white baggy shorted world with no sweets, no Starsky and Hutch and no toilet; the dark ages.
I wonder what current soul-searching dilemmas Didsbury Son will be beaming onto the next generation to be born. I think that when he tells them there was outrage in 2013 amongst a certain (now extinct) strata of society about gay marriage they will laugh at how we lived in such bizarre and unenlightened times; it must have been the petrol engines and the high fat snacks we all used to consume. It will seem bizarre to them that we discriminated against people on the grounds of sexuality when there are so many more interesting obvious ways to segregate – starting with people who rustle sweet wrappers and text in cinemas. There is no exclusion too harsh for “those” types. Although one of my best friends went out with someone who talked and chewed loudly during films. (Not really)
Then Didsbury Son’s Didsbury Progeny will ask if Red Dwarf was a documentary and if People were really that stupid. I, Didsbury Grandad will summon up the virtual Cheese Hamlet and sneak a quick Emmental fix before the evening cryogenics kick in and they put The Smiths chip in my head to give me something to hum along to before their next ancient history class.
They will take a comic look at the credit crunch and how in 2018 payday loan gurus Wonga got the deal to sponsor the red case used by the chancellor on budget day.
The world moves on and hopefully prejudices and judgemental legislation targeting people getting on with their lives will slowly fade. Sadly as likely overall as Didsbury Son remembering which week is the black bin and which week is the green.
New legislation aimed at ending years of prejudice between shrubs and trees is being considered