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 “Usain Bolt”

Call Centre Hell

I have always been an early adopter. In the 70s at junior school I dressed in hats that Elton John would bring to the stage later that decade. In the 80s I pioneered wearing full New Romantic make-up to football games without getting battered and co-promoted 808 State in a Discoteque. I helped bring poetry into the digital age and had a beard when your average Chorlton Hipster still thought McFly were… Fly.

Anyway it’s happened again. I am Victor Meldrew a decade and a half early. I hate it, but it’s true. The disappointment of my first genuinely middle-aged tantrum could see me dig out the Henry Root letters for inspiration. 

 A rant

People love to tell you how moving into a house is just the start of the hard work. They are right. It’s not the unpacking, the boxes, the door handles that have broken at the sight of a toddler or the papier mache wall consistency in the one room you forgot to check. All of these make chatting with an Estate Agent seem easy compared to my new hell. 

The most difficult aspect of moving is dealing with the underpaid, badly-informed, uneducated, uncaring, script driven donkeys whose lack of customer service skills, knowledge of their own companies and ability to have an unscripted conversation is so frustrating I found myself shouting “I don’t believe it” just to remind myself I shouldn’t be taking it so seriously. 

 not a picture of a manager at a call centre for a major broadcaster

In a week when events in Brussels have once again shown an awful disdain for life, born from too much conviction channelled down a negative path, perhaps I should welcome the indifference of Generation Y. 

 Talking to one particularly annoying operative in Virgin “Media’s” Glasgow outpost I had two thoughts. 1) I bet Usain Bolt doesn’t get put on hold for 14 minutes. 2) only by threatening to turn off the Wi-Fi could I get a response. Then I remembered – that is why I had called. 

 After days and days of fruitless, pointless calls with Virgin, BT and other less labyrinthine organisations I actually love Axa. At least they are polite and coherent as they tell you they can’t help. 
My denouement was the almost delivery of toddler beds. I’m off work with my version of a war wound. I received a text so specific it said to be available from 12.34 to 3.34pm. At Midday precisely I set off on the 7 minute trek to the village; sated by the Face-to-Face 4 minute experience of Mailboxes I returned. So Mildrew-like have I become I even checked the time as I approached Didsbury Dad Haven; 12.18 cushty.
At 2.26 I went for a mooch and saw a card by the front door from XPD with a “Called at 12.18”. Genuinely, over the next half hour of arguing with ever senior staff (I think my final palm off was almost 22) I thought I might explode with a rage I cannot ever recall having against another living being. (I’ve just remembered someone beginning with R from 1987). 
The best I managed was some slightly patronising takedowns of his argument. I felt like Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You retreating to fustiness when realising he was beaten. The leap to instant defensive aggression, followed by scripted repetition was too much to bear.  
So I await tomorrow’s timeslot armed with the information that I need to give it 30 minutes, not 16 either side of the timeslot as apparently I don’t know how logistics work. He was right, but I know it’s not spelled with a J in the middle.  

 Calm place, calm place. Any parent coordinating breakfast on a school/nursery day could have a go at the flight pattern over Heathrow let alone getting a van to a house in a 3-hour window. 

Didsbury’s Top 13 Coffee Stops for 2013

In a move as contrived as an inclusive multi-faith Nativity play.
In a year when nothing has yet happened  beyond changing nappies, patting babies and coping with Didsbury Son’s increasing technological needs, I present my guide to Didsbury 2013.
When I say a guide, I mean Part 1; places to park your buggy, rest your feet, work quietly and catch up. Coffee, cake, work, wasting time:
 1. Airyfairy Cupcake Boutique. Like the bumblebee that represents Manchester it shouldn’t work, but it does. In the space that housed the Withington Reporter when it was part of the community is a little haven. Quirky, but not Chorlton. Friendly, but not interfering and not cheap, but worth it. The free wi-fi helps and the Lemon Poppy Cake wooed Didsbury Wife into a  relaxed hour between feeds. Still not sure what a cupcake actually is but then I’ve never really understood why clowns were funny or Thomas the Tank Engine didn’t scare children.
We dressed one twin in white, one in black and lost them on the floor. (www.airyfairycupcakes.co.uk)

We dressed one twin in white, one in black and lost them on the floor. (www.airyfairycupcakes.co.uk)

2. Didsbury Deli. A little piece of The Balkans on our doorsteppes. Fearsome looking but genuinely pleasant owner reminds me of years spent running Nightime events and the staff are lovely enough to mask the eye-watering prices. The door allows for a double pram, always a good thing.
3. The Art of Tea. No room for a pram (not in a “No Room for a Crib kind of way) so is a baby-free, free wi-fi haven of uncomfy seating, indifferent service but none the less for this. The granary toast with peanut butter makes the springless sofas acceptable. The rest of the menu and the bookshop that Health & Safety forgot make them positively luxurious.
4. Didsbury Perk. A newbie, with big banquettes and some interesting art (not sure about the painting with a view from Costa Coffee including Usain Bolt and David ” The Werewolf” Weir passing each other outside Zizzi but it’s a personal thing). It is on School Lane only 8 barbers (1 furlong = a bushell = a barber on School Lane) away from AiryFairy and The Metro Stop and it has a musical link to RNCM. It’s also v v friendly and half the price of the corporates (£2.25 for a Panini, winner).
A view from Costa without Usain Bolt and David Weir

A view from Costa without Usain Bolt and David Weir

4. Cafe Rouge. Rouge may be a Whitbread chain but, like La Tasca, if you have lived here for a few years you will have a happy memory or two based here. When I was dating Didsbury Wife we would sneak here pre-work for coffee and a kiss on the red velvet seats. They are great with children and the food is worth a snoop. I walk past it and it stirs lovely pre Didsbury Dad memories. When it opened Rouge seemed an unfeasibly gauche addition to the village.
5. Albert’s Shed. I’m old enough to have had my first drink in The Barleycorn in the 80s and my own Didsbury Dad and Mum lived over the shop when this was a casino in the 60s. The building’s re-incarnation, mid credit crunch as a  Castlefield favourite was a little slice of genius. Good fun on a night out and for Sunday brunch on a bright day.
6. The Alpine Tearoom in Fletcher Moss. On a summer’s day, this is the centre of the Didsbury world. A gateway to Fletcher Moss, a great spot to people-watch and hark back to early times when an ice cream and a walk satisfied a child for the afternoon.
7. Fusion Deli. The coffee is genuinely good but the bonhomie shared by Pete and Tom amid the Olive Tofu, the proximity to Inmans and the chance to watch Blockbusters’ demise first hand make this a great stop.
8. Samsi Junior opposite The Red Lion. I think it’s Withington and its green tea not coffee but another fave yapping point.
9. Folk. A one-off. A bit like big curly hair. Whatever is done to decorate the place and smarten it up it still looks the epitome of 80s Didsbury scruffy boho chic and so it should. You get really good food, really poor service with a smile and a fine bar should your coffee need stiffening.
10. Piccolino’s. Replacing The Nose, even after its post Liz and Lawrence bastardisation was always going to be a tall order. This was a venue prime for the cynics and snobs to slate but against all odds it is a top hangout at any time of day.
11. Mr Marvel’s Cafe. It closed circa 1990 something but was Didsbury Wife’s fave hangout and a little scary in smokiest times.
12. Didsbury Mum’s House. There are some great coffee shops in the village but few, in fact none offer this level of service. I can let myself in and there’s always tea and cake. I am always told that I look fine and I’m a success, highly recommended.
13. The Bench at the end of the tree-lined path opposite the river. There’s no Wi-fi, no coffee, no one can bother you and if the sun is shining and contents of the double buggy are sleeping, it is perfect.
Only inverse snobbery prevents the sublime Caffe Nero and the sofas at Costa getting in. Both have their benefits, charms and free newspapers.
Next week we begin part 1 of a 644 part series on Didsbury’s Barber Shops.

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