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 “twins”

Didsbury Village – an Autumn update

Sometimes I wander through the not so mean streets of M20 and think how lucky I am to live in an area with parks and metros, Neros and Airy Fairy Cupcakes. An area so awash with old and new community that there is an acceptance of the vagaries of life.

@Craftwords pointed out to me that the evolution of Estate Agency. Look and learn world, Estate Agents took the sea to land leap here in 2013. Darwin, Attenborough ( David not Richard), Dawkins ( Richard) your guys took a hell of a beating; looks uncannily as though it was designed after a Genius Bar appointment in any Apple Shop. I think there is a touch of Vision Express meets JP & Brimelow in the design and colour scheme, a touch of Tron in the marketing and a gorgeous spicy smell from being underneath The Sangam. I would buy it, but Didsbury Wife thinks it’s not child-friendly.

In Village news- Nido continues to defy the laws of economics and stays open. If you have fallen out with anyone and need a good row over dinner, there’s plenty of room to eat and say the unsayable without being overheard.
Jaanum, once Elite Deli where the bagels were crispy, the salmon smoky and the service rude enough to evoke New York, has gone. I liked the guy who worked there. He was friendly and cooed at the babies and Inwish him well, but let’s be honest, you wouldn’t eat there.

There are more changes in Warburton Street, Didsbury’s very own Northern Quarter. The wonderful Wendy J Levy gallery is closing before the end of the year. Wendy is carrying on, but we are losing our cultural centre. I thought that the glint from all the Pandora jewellery in Harriet & Dee was too much BUT No, Wendy is off to work shopless by choice; a rare gift.

In moves similar to the final hours of the transfer window, Ashley Brown ‘s magnificently maned team are taking over the ground floor (allegedly),. ShopCatLaura v Ashley Brown’s Dog, bring it on. A new Deli is opening in their space and upstairs at Wendy’s will be a support group for people who invested in Nido or the Japanese restaurant that filled the space, if not the tables in the building, now Zizzi, that will always be The Old Grey Horse.

Now over to Didsbury Son for the weather…


So good I snapped it twice.

My mighty-headed warrior took the news about Wendy J Levy gallery shutting with sanguine style and went back to CBeebies.

I write this hoping that nothing bad has happened to the lovely old Jack Russell at Ashley Brown.

Next installment. The twins take over The Holt Pavillion.

Don’t Quote Me – But this is wonderful

Sleep, the final frontier. That undiscovered country from whose Bourne no traveller has returned that makes us rather seek out new planets, soft you now. Hold on. I’m getting Shatner and Shakespeare mixed up again. It’s sleep depravation.
The constant whine of the parent. Hello, I ‘m Didsbury Dad and I was face down in the focaccia after a night with so much bed-hopping it was like Freshers Week at the Borgias. Even the cats moved from one side of the couch to the other chasing the final hurrah of the summer sun before they hibernate and get jabbed by the babies.
The twins are 1 this week. They stumble around the house with robotic lurches and fear-free charges. The cats’ bowl, flap and tails are magnets and watching the two nappy-wrapped bottoms take the stairs like a climbing wall is one of life’s indulgent little pleasures. Didsbury Son and I commentate as they wriggle past the “Welcome Home” banner that is now a permanent artwork and family heirloom. Even my own Didsbury Dad won the bet on a visit as Pearl-Haired girl nimbly left my little tank trailing in her wake. Their delight when they reach the top – with no plan as to what they do next is a fabulous antidote to the time-coded minutiae of everyday life.
Each movement is now accompanied by a babbling soundtrack of ascending intensity. My little blondini girl sways and dances to everything from the dishwasher to the 30th daily rendition of. “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. My tank boy sat transfixed through a whole Champions League match, knowing in 10 years we will be in the same position, doing the same thing, with our hands on the same packet of snacks.
Aah – Had we but world and time, a small step for a grown up – a giant leap for a baby. If only Everyday was like Sunday; we could mooch all day.

(Play Morrissey – Everyday is Like Sunday here and hum gracefully)

Father’s Day, a report card on your prowess

Father’s Day. Two words that can strike dread into the heart of many dads. It is a report card on how you’ve done since Christmas. The level of effort put in is a direct grading of your role as supporting artist in the great film of family life.
This is not about money spent or responding to the abysmal Americanisation and spreading over the weekend of what was always traditionally a card and a cuppa before normal service resumed.

I had a trawl through the mmm, detritus that is being passed off as a present for dad. I saw an advert for Canadian Maple flavoured ribs and beer. Fine, if you’ve never had Gavuscon or Oemeprozole but not for the other 99% of us literally a recipe for disaster. This and a thousand Top Gear / presents aimed at 10 year olds with more hair passed off as what the retailers decided we should stress over for Father’s Day; rubbish.

There is the same nuance and care needed in a Father’s Day as there is when responding to a question from partners beginning “I want you to be honest with me…” (NB you only fall for this once every six months)

We know a great sage once decreed that the perfect childhood for boys was to have a father until they were seven years old before taking over as pack leader and sending father back into the forest to forage.
Handwritten cards, something you secretly wanted, a hint taken or anything fried and you have an A*; with gradings all the way down to a Co-Op card and a picture of your children to remind you who they are.

I think I did okay. Definitely on the upside and had an easy weekend with a family that becomes more lively and interesting by the week.

Sunday began at 2am with teething terrors traumatising the Mighty-Headed boy and ended alone in a double bed with all baby duties suspended until 6am as I had a big day at work; the greatest act of selfless love in a bedroom that the mother of your children can give you.

Didsbury Son had a break from being short-changed of quality dad attention, spending a sleepover with friends and Didsbury Wife and I spent a chummy afternoon on the couch with the twins before I didn’t have to go to John Lewis.

I felt special. As we wheeled the twin Meerkats out for an early evening drink in a sun-dappled West Didsbury I felt relaxed and sure in the knowledge that the world was right and I was one inappropriate joke away from a Top Gear compilation.


Hands full, all three of them

Competitive Parenting – The Eternal Struggle

If you ever need to feel better about yourself there are some easy solutions.
You could put together a Kinder Egg toy for a four year old, taking their oohs and aahs at your dexterity as a pat on the back.
You could ask an 11 year old a question and tell them that the word “like” can only be used in the answer if it is the opening of a similie.Or you could go to the web pages of The International Federation of Competitive Eating (ifoce.com) and realise that those pounds gained during pregnancy (even if you were not actually the pregnant one) are nothing to worry about. I am not a fan of competitive parenting. “Ooh Didsbury Son invented a cure for Cartoon Network on the bus home today” but our competitive nature comes out when we are not expecting it to get shirty.

Our own version of Competitive Parenting is a bizarre battle for moral supremacy stoked by childcare through the pain barrier. One of us says “Oh I’m tired” and the other jumps on the bus and rides a long, citing ever decreasing hours of sleep. This is just an extension of Didsbury Son bragging with friends about staying up late and watching inappropriate films (never happens – much to his chagrin)
Stakes then get raised in a version of muscular pain roulette that ends with us virtually paralysed, but (sobs), doing it for the children. Muscular pain roulette is where David Dickinson’s auction meets NHS Direct. Go too early with a severe pain and you lose. Fail to join in and you could have a full night of lifting, shifting, feeding and pleading with Mighty- headed twin in his nightly, 2-hourly WAAH fest.
Regardez est encoute how to crescendo:
– My back’s a bit stiff from lifting the babies out of the cot so much
– Me too and I think I have tennis elbow.
(Jump in, ignoring comment)
Uh huh and my housemaid’s knee is sore sore sore from all the time I spend playing on the floor with them.
– I felt something snap when I was double dream feeding last night. You slept through, I didn’t want to disturb you. I ache all over, but at least the babies are happy.
Then sit back and prepare to choose the comfy side of the bed and sleep happily through the 2am call.

The Y Chromosome, a success story

I used to dream of a BAFTA, now I dream of accepting my BAFTA and having a shed with a radio and a lock.
I used to stay up all night, now I am up most of the night. I realise that for most city-raised men – we are are always up all night. It’s a seamless procession from teen angst to all-night parties, to crying babies to the looming prostate. It has its bonuses; but the head full of ideas that used to keep me up scribbling, pacing and talking endlessly now competes with a bottle full of formula and a stare that draws you in to the cot for aimless hours of doting and cooing.

I am a dad.
Dad: (noun) one who is invisible to women whose husbands didn’t help much with their children (verb) to be not quite as important as Didsbury Wife or Didsbury Son. To make mistakes with the temperature of milk and what constitutes clean and sterilised.

If men were as rude about in public mixed company as women are,
“Is he needy [pointing at baby boy twin with enormous beautiful head]? … They all are, all boys are, all their lives.” People would think it was still the 1970s.

There’s no escaping your gender and the benefit of genes. On Thursday the twins both slept through the night for the first time. Didsbury Wife and I were giddy with continuous sleep. This morning I woke up and glanced at the clock, 6.09am – Bingo. I smiled, smug with rest, stretched and leaned over to stare beatifically at a rested Didsbury Wife. In turning I bumped into 2 wide-eyed babies and a 1000 yard staring Didsbury Wife. They hadn’t slept through the night but I had.

The male genes had tuned out efficiently. Didsbury Wife forcefully told me – I had slept through the 2, 4 and 5am wake up – snoring happily. i had been oblivious to the twins cries, the night feeds and the odd prod in the ribs from Didsbury Wife’s toe.

A dent in the ribs v a full night’s sleep. I think that is 1-0 to the Y chromosome.


Not even a picture of a baby with red licquorice made Didsbury Wife smile

People Don’t Always Say The Funniest Things

This Week’s stranger comment count. A quick midweek blog.

Pushing baby twins attracts lots of looks and comments. This is mainly lovely. A trip around a department store when there is a higher than average percentage of grandmothers can take an extra forty five minutes. As I march the parks and pavements of Didsbury pushing a double buggy and trying to work off the baby weight I gained cooking for Didsbury Wife it is fascinating to see people glance nervously and smile to themselves, even when I haven’t dressed them ( I keep getting the blue and pink mixed up and if I can’t find a hat I know, as all dads do – that a spare pair of trousers makes an excellent headcover.). I have always done this with dogs when out and about with Didsbury Son and it is great to inadvertently spread a little happiness.

You do tend to get certain stock phrases repeated over and over. This week’s favourites.

Double Trouble” 109 times. Ha ha. This is hilarious and any twin parent will be laughing however times people you have never met say this knowingly into your pram. I always wonder if an answer other than a pointless wan smile is expected. Should I tell them they are right, the experiment has not worked and we are trying to decide whether to keep them both or concentrate on the one who sleeps better?

You’ve got your Hands Full”  – not so full I can’t make hand gestures 17

Double Joy” (we like these) 32. The demographic breakdown is primarily middle-aged people with an equal gender split.

I didn’t know you had it in you” 10 Technically, this makes no sense. I always want to ask “Why?” but Didsbury Wife winds in my neck and squeezes my hand in the most powerful of controlled gestures.

You’ve made my day” (these are really nice) 8

Are they identical?” “It’s a boy and a girl” “Yes I can see that. But are they identical?” 3

Only the mighty Ewan thee Sheep can say what he wants… he is the king of the cot

My weekly favourite was the man in John Lewis on Saturday morning. He was walking around the crockery bit (man hell) with daughter and granddaughter when he clocked me, Chairman Mao and Catherine the Great. He came over and clapped me on the back; brought the rest of his family to have a look whilst smiling at me as though I had added 10% extra to the sale discounts. He looked genuinely made up before telling other strangers how great it was to see lovely twins. He went off laughing and chatting and I felt a warmth I usually only experience when a feed reappears down my shirt.

Rites of Passage and Parent’s Evening

Rites of Passage, those life events so beloved of writers, singers, painters and so often packed with platitudes. With new twins passing landmarks on a daily basis it has at times been difficult for Didsbury Son to get his Rites to the front of the queue. Over the last week we have had a glut of them to redress the balance.

The baby laughed. mark the time, the place, the weather and the cat's latitude.

The baby laughed. mark the time, the place, the weather and the cat’s latitude.


Last week he made his team sports debut. It was a magnificent clear winter’s day, he donned a luminous kit several sizes too big for him and was part of a team he had met once before in the dark the previous Monday. His chosen sport (for the moment) is Lacrosse. My attempts to share my love of football have failed consistently over the years.


Everyday I learn. The lacrosse stick is on the right, the mesh on the left is a pre-stringed Lacrosse racket

Everyday I learn. The lacrosse stick is on the right, the mesh on the left is a pre-stringed Lacrosse racket

My two memories of Didsbury Son’s football career consist of turning my back for five minutes one Saturday morning in Fog Lane Park to find him swaddled by adult tracksuits shivering unhappily and… a magnificent tactical performance where he spent a whole hour moving gracefully away from the ball. It was not for him.


His first memory of football is seeing me – eyes staring with two fingers pressed up against the television as the cameras panned to a close-up of the opposition fans. 5 year old Didsbury Son’s only comment, “Daddy, why are you swearing at the TV?”


His indifference is my fault. What I saw as paternal love and exuberance was really the attempts of a dad to squeeze him into static laden shirts, learn pointless songs with refrains that make less sense than a Year 2 song (My favourite was “Tommy Tomato or Have You Ever Had a Penguin Round for Tea – classics) and of hours listening to 5Live drone on interspersed with my yelps. I have learned and am ready for the next two.


So Didsbury Son made his debut in “the fastest game on 2 legs” (sic) and looked magnificent. Didsbury Wife and I stood at the side of the pitch shivering quietly, a baby each for warmth and enjoyed our first ever experience of Didsbury Son in competition. I didn’t shout a single inappropriate comment. I didn’t even try and start a Mexican Wave.

These were rites stacking up by the hour. Lacrosse is not an easy sport for parents to watch initially. He wears huge padding and a helmet. I had no idea which child I was shouting for and the ball is too small and moves too fast for eyes that have long since seen their 39th birthday. Twin Girl loved it. She bobbed around happily using her new found smile to anyone in the vicinity. Whilst Didsbury Son thought this was sibling adoration for him – in time it will be. We are back for training this week and this could be a goer.

We also had another rite – the first senior school parent’s evening. In Junior School they are a real disappointment. For anyone who went to school pre New Labour a parents’ evening was a fearful time when the best one could expect was parental indifference after a night of having all your sins laid out before them. The latent aggression of the teachers was part of the experience. The notion of schools being inclusive environments and of children mattering was as ridiculous as the notion of keeping your record collection in your phone. A bit like going to football these days – they now lack the edge of danger and fear to make them interesting.

This had the makings of an interesting evening. We had the twins with us in an unmanoeuvrable double pram amidst harassed parents and tired teachers. There had been an incident earlier that day. By the time we started I was almost looking forward to a night defending his honour before going home to be disappointed, brilliant.

What did we get?

Caring teachers who actually knew who he was and had considered him constructively. We then had enthusiastic and non-patronising comments about the twins (who barely cried and caused no fuss) and even the catering was worth a second or third circle around the room. Amid the general positivity I felt slightly cheated. They were reasonable, Didsbury Son has been doing his best and Didsbury Wife and I agreed on things and nodded at each other like a team working well together; another rite of passage.


Even the PE department demonstration looked good

Even the PE department demonstration looked good



Ho Ho Hola

Being away for Christmas is a big deal for the family. Christmas at home has its own rhythms and even though its not something I was brought up with as mine, I think it becomes part of your life whether you embrace it religiously, commercially, in the spirit of human bonhomie or whether you just relish an extra excuse to over indulge and kiss strangers under the flimsiest of contexts.

My lot (same God, different caterers) spread the indulgence through the year with a series of celebrations and a fast to combat the eating. All Jewish festivals boil down to three things; they tried to kill us, we didn’t get killed, let’s eat. As a partial outsider the British take on Christian festivals seems to split three ways. There are those who are religious, embrace the story behind the festival and its intent and balance indulgence and introspection. There are those who do not take up their personal relationship with religion but just in case use the festivals as an insurance policy. Then there are the huge rump of nominal Christians who like an excuse to drink egg nog hnand unwrap a present, all have their place.

I think the idea of a festival in the middle of winter, at the end of the year that brings people together is a good thing -whichever way you face to pray. The specifics of when he was born, whose festival it was originally and the level of commerciality is a petty distraction – it’s your choice and Didsbury Son told me the best Christmas gag I have heard for ages. What do you buy Jesus for Christmas? A t-shirt with “What Would I Do?” On the front. That’s the spirit.

So this year we have Christmas in swimming trunks on a hot, primarily Catholic island with a fairly even British / Scandinavian split. This could satisfy everyone in the family equally, Didsbury Wife can get her religious fix, Didsbury Son can go swimming and I have a chance of herring. This could work out well. My only other experience of Christmas abroad was in a different lifetime in The Dominican Republic; a place with so little to recommend it that getting searched at the airport was a highlight. Our Christmas ideas have evolved through Northern Europe and the faux firs with fake snow that dot the resort seem at odds with the regional rhythms of Christmas.

Didsbury Son has said he does not feel Christmassy. Although this triggered a guilt reaction It comes really from the personal expectation. Our Christmas progress involves the neighbours, the cards, checking the weather forecast, dashing around with cards, presents and kisses and queuing. Part of the fun of a Didsbury Christmas is the 7am queue outside The Cheese Hamlet, Evans and Axons the Butchers. The line of bleary eyed men dispatched to bring home Turkeys, exorbitant meats and the finest smelly cheeses is fraught at best. There is a murmured concern at mixing up sage with dill. Is sage real or is it the equivalent of the glass hammer list for a new recruit? Christmas in Didsbury involves the joy of watching the lunchtime Christmas Eve post-pub panic shop; a joy to sit back and sip a cappuccino whilst other men prepare to let down their partners ingloriously.

We fly home Christmas night to join the Boxing Day throng and see if we can transport our little Didsbury Bubble back from The Atlantic. So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and enjoy what you have. More Didsbury, Dadding and twins nonsense as soon as I have found the last Turkey in Tesco.


Scans, scams and taxis

I had a terrible flash forward at the weekend. I have seen the future and it’s expensive, slow and not good for the knees.
Now newly ensconced in big school, Didsbury Son had a Saturday morning something or other to get to for 9am. Didsbury Wife, now 35 weeks pregnant and moving like an England central defender needed John Lewis nursery department and a school outfitters with which to argue. Didsbury Son had then concocted an arrangement including walking around with a friend, computers and a park. Didsbury Wife spends most nights trawling the Internet with other nocturnal and insomniac mothers-to-be and Didsbury Fat Cat had his eye on the M&S chicken I had been marinading.

Like a seemingly innocuous introduction to Casualty when you know the cutest of kittens will set off a chain of events that leaves several people limbless in a shopping centre in Holby, I walked blindly into this domestic version of daddom diabolic.

Preparing Didsbury Wife to leave the house now has more similarities with turning a tanker than popping out for a coffee. Didsbury Son’s ability to lose objects he owns is consistent, impressive and one great trait he inherited from me. If I actually leave our road without at least 2 trips back for phone, keys, glasses, wallet, pass It means I have to spend a day without them.

My planned Saturday, 5Live, David Pluck, SkySports and The Guardian were soon to disintegrate.

After 6 hours of school, John Lewis, Monkhouses, school, Didsbury Son friend, Didsbury wife hair appointment, picking up a lost Didsbury Son and getting everyone home I realised two things
1: with twins on the way my role as driver and roving cashpoint were now established until at least the 22/23 season.
2: My own Didsbury Dad’s ability to disappear into a quiet room at every opportunity is a skill to master.

I also found out that betting on your phone in a school car park on the 2.20 at Chester is the self-esteem equivalent of changing for games next to the biggest kid in the class.

Ante-natal scans and the football season

At some point in the next few weeks Didsbury Son will become a big brother twice over. I cannot guide him. I am the youngest in my family. He has taken the endless procession and pram talk with an openness that has been a joy to share. After an initial lip-trembling and leg-clasping reaction he is now a full member of team twins and makes plans, asks questions, gulps and cheers with the rest of us. We have practiced changing nappies on the toys and can now pick out the minutest detail on a scan picture.

It’s the pram I’m staring at, not you

Waiting for an ante-natal scan is a great leveler. All, well almost all strata of society comes through here. The really rich may have clinics with carpets and a choice of water but within the NHS it’s a sociological dream.

We had been waiting for a scan for about an hour and a half. Excited planning had descended into small talk , then sniping and eventually looking for an excuse for a row whilst redesigning the NHS.
The conversation around us ranged from the benefits of a Bugaboo over a Mountain Duet, to who’ll do the feed if it’s time for a spliff. This is where organic grocer meets Netto; where the great melting pot that is a modern city shares space, scanning gel and key stages – but looks down magnificently on the differences around them.
I notice I look at everyone in a new way. When out and about I have progressed from eying up women, through looking broodingly at their dogs, to my new hobby – checking out the pram. I know very little about cars but can talk about the wheelbase, handling and flexibility of “travel systems”. Do you know your donkey from your city jogger? I do, doh.
Travel System is the 2012 name for the Rubik’s Cube on wheels that now stands in for a pram. When Didsbury Son was a baby he had a pram and a car seat. He was safe, mobile and easy to wheel about. Nowadays, If your buggy does not have James Bond ejector seats, can swivel the baby like The Exorcist or make Fair Trade espresso whilst you perambulate your little (insert recycled Victorian name) then you will be the pariah of the support group; cast out before you have a chance to re-blow it in the school playground.The non eBay-won travel system costs an obscene amount; similar to a week with Mark Warner, a large popcorn and hot dog at Cineworld or a family trip to a Premier League – without the instant gratification or the tan / sugar-rush hangover
Last night we attended a twin induction tour which was lovely – except the midwife threw terms like catheter, snipped perineum and dilation around as though, as though, as though the men in the room were not squeamish cowards desperate to stay at the head end and receive a cordless and clean baby in a blanket.
The last time I considered the term dilation in detail was in a club toilet on a stag night, trying to work out if we could leave a friend there or should call an ambulance.

It will be downstairs at Costa once the twins arrive

I can now discuss nose-to-breast without cheap gags and I understand that gas and air is not for sharing. I have handheld, wept and beamed as the scans move from shrimp to alien to recognisable baby and, most importantly for any man – I have worked out the birthing playlist for the iPod and even decided to throw in a few tracks that Didsbury Wife likes.
This weekend the hypno-birthing partners class clashes with the first game of the season. When I took Didsbury Son to a cup final in May I joked that it would probably be the last time I would be able to do such a thing. Silly me.
In through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose…..

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