Canavan’s Column - July 18, 2013

Get it off your chest:  My chest is far more 'natural' than this specimen
Get it off your chest: My chest is far more 'natural' than this specimen
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Put your chest hair away fellas, no one wants to see it

As lovely as the warm weather is, it comes at a price. We see way too much flesh.

I’m not talking young ladies here – they’ve been wearing nowt for years – but blokes.

In my day it was daring to stride down the street in a polo neck T-shirt with a couple of buttons undone. But nowadays young lads, and those old enough to know better, seem to think nothing of strolling in a public place wearing little more than a pair of shorts.

Now I’m no prude. I know this is the 21st century. However, call me picky but I don’t really want to see a fella walking towards me sans top with his chest hair flapping in the wind.

It happened to me the other day. I had just been to the corner shop to buy a loaf and some fish-fingers (on special offer at 99p – they don’t contain any fish but for a price like that who cares?) when I emerged to find four lads chatting outside, all of them topless. Why? Is it that difficult to keep your shirt on?

Sure, whip everything off in your own garden but not outside Tesco Express if you don’t mind.

Now I must confess at this point that the catalyst for my complaint is envy.

I have not been lucky in the body department. I’m in my 30s and yet have the torso of a 12-year-old boy with asthma.

Indeed the other night, seven years into my relationship with Mrs Canavan, as I wandered through the bedroom she remarked ‘have you ever thought of going to the gym?’

After brushing off her remark (after I’d stopped sobbing) I explained to her that my look was the natural look.

There have been no weights, no rowing machines, no anabolic steroids involved in attaining this chest of mine. What you see is what you get. Unfortunately.

So to all these lads who like to go topless in the hot weather, spare a thought for weeds like me and stick a sweater on.

That’s a wrap, I wish...

I was in a hurry the other day and so nipped into a well-known supermarket for lunch.

They have one of these sandwich bars where you order a butty and a woman in a uniform and a natty hat makes it for you there and then. It’s like a posh McDonald’s, without a miserable-looking student asking if you want large fries.

There were three of us in the queue, the first person was being served. This took about five minutes. Then she left, leaving the gentleman in front of me with the simple task of asking for the sandwich of his choice.

‘What would you like sir?’ smiled the lady behind the counter.

He held his finger in the air. Both the supermarket lady and I looked puzzled, then we realised he had a mobile phone clamped between ear and shoulder. He was nodding. ‘Geoff, Geoff. Look, I’ve told you before, if it won’t fit roll it up and ram as hard as you can. What’s that? Well Sheila can harp on all she likes but this wouldn’t have happened if she’d flushed the toilet properly’.

This sort of thing went on for around 30 seconds before the call came to an end.

Then, as if realising for the first time he was in a shop queueing for a sandwich, he looked up in puzzled manner at the board advertising which butties the store sold.

‘Hmmm, lots of choice isn’t there?’ he said, removing some wax from his ear with his little finger. Ten seconds passed. ‘Can I have the gammon wrap?’

The lady serving explained the gammon only came on ciabatta bread.

‘I’d like it on a wrap,’ the man replied.

The lady apologised but said she wasn’t allowed to serve it on a wrap because it would change the weight and therefore the price. “It’s just the rules,” she shrugged in sympathetic manner.

‘But I wanted it on a wrap. A ciabatta is just so heavy on the stomach isn’t it?’

Now I’m a patient man – I once waited 13 minutes for a bus to Thornton – but it was at this point I began to twitch slightly, not unlike a crocodile shortly before they leap from the water to rip off the arm of an unsuspecting tourist.

Again the lady, who had considerably more patience than me, explained a gammon wrap wasn’t possible.

Eventually the man in front of me took the daring decision to have the gammon on ciabatta – the option clearly stated on the menu – and this obstacle finally hurdled, the woman asked if he’d like salad.

The man was stood approximately two inches from a salad bar containing lettuce, cucumber and tomato. ‘What have you got?’ he enquired.

“We’ve lettuce, cucumber and tomato,” the woman said.

The man scanned it as if examining something deeply unpleasant, and said ‘just cucumber. But have you any other cucumber, I’m not sure I like the look of that?’

I may have made a slight high-pitched, snorting sound at this point because the man, for the first time, turned in my direction and gave me a look.

I was willing him to ask if there was anything the matter, just to allow me the opportunity to reply ‘well actually there is sir, you see I nipped in here to grab a sandwich because I’m in a rush but unfortunately I’ve had to wait ages because I’ve got this complete cretin in front of me in the queue’.

Unfortunately he didn’t address me.

He simply turned back to the counter, where he made a comment about the tomatoes looking too ripe.

In the time it took him to complete his order and receive his sandwich, I daresay I could have driven to another supermarket, ordered and eaten a sandwich, and returned home in time to fail to guess the conundrum on that afternoon’s Countdown.

As the man sauntered off, presumably to call Geoff back and complain about how heavy ciabatta sits on the stomach, the woman serving, who had remained completely calm and friendliness personified throughout the previous exchanges, asked what I wanted.

I asked for a gammon ciabatta.

‘Are you sure you don’t want that on a wrap?’ she said with a smile and a wink.

Despite my frustration it was satisfying to know I wasn’t in it alone, and she thought the fella was a right pain in the backside too.