The thing is with Steve Canavan, December 19, 2013

HITLER ... is the Government taking a leaf out of his book.

HITLER ... is the Government taking a leaf out of his book.

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Now I know I’m not as young as I used to be. I’m reminded of this every time I look in the mirror and see a hair sprouting from my nostril, or when vinyl flooring is on special offer in B&Q and I get a odd surge of excitement.

But I still feel that as a man in my 30s, I am relatively youthful and in tune with the way youngsters think and act.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wear jeans that hang halfway down my bottom and show the world what under garments I am wearing. I don’t use the word ‘sick’ to describe something good. And I don’t spend eight hours a day on Facebook accepting friend requests from strangers so I can look popular.

But I still feel fairly youthful.

However, there is one thing I just cannot comprehend and it is this: throwing pints at a music concert.

I write this after attending a gig by a band called The Courteeners at the Manchester Arena last weekend.

I booked tickets in the seated area (long gone are the days when I stood up at gigs; indeed standing anywhere for more than half-an-hour these days is tricky) and was right at the back of the first tier, which, as anyone familiar with the Arena knows, is quite some distance from the stage.

In short I felt safe, away from all the young teens going berserk on the dance floor and lovingly smacking each other in the face (and that was before the band even came on).

Yet it turned out I wasn’t safe. Four songs into the gig, I had been hit by a stream on half-full pint pots, launched by some imbeciles in the seats behind me.

Lager (or at least I sincerely hope it was lager) dripped from my hair and T-shirt.

Now this was mildly annoying. I mean when I shower at home I always tend to use water. Never have I chosen to wash my hair in alcohol, it just does my roots no good at all.

But my main point is this: have you seen the prices of drinks at an arena gig? It costs about a fiver for a pint so why, in these difficult days of recession, when times are so hard my own children have to go without food just so I can have a proper evening meal, would people want to throw away money?

If I pay £5 for a pint I make sure I get every drop of that pint. I even request a straw so I can suck up every last little bit. A Dyson vacuum cleaner couldn’t do a better job.

Yet these cretins at gigs are chucking the stuff away, indeed judging by the sopping state of my clothes I’d say I had at least £17.50 worth on my bonce.

I had to take my clothes to the dry cleaners the next day but despite a thorough wash there is still a slight but distinctive smell of Kronenburg 1664 on my corduroy chinos.

Call me a killjoy, but next time I go to a gig I’m taking an umbrella.

By the way, since we’re on the subject – of booze, not brollies – and being the type of sad person who gets excited by these things, I have a few facts for you about alcohol.

The word ‘toast’ means wishing good health and originated in ancient Rome when a piece of toasted bread was dropped into wine.

What’s that? You want another? Ok then. The soil of vineyards in France is considered so precious that it is mandatory for workers to scrape it off their shoes before they leave.

Another – “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is considered to be the shortest sentence that includes all the letters of the alphabet. Yet alcohol lovers (presumably before they’d had one too many) came up with one of their own: “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.”

And one final alcohol fact that I feel says it all... Adolf Hitler was one of the world’s best known abstainers from alcohol, while Sir Winston Churchill was a heavy drinker.

The moral of which is, if you don’t drink you run the risk of turning into a power-mad, murdering maniac with a fondness for a terrible moustache.

Then again, if no one drank we wouldn’t get soaked at rock gigs so maybe Adolf was onto something.

Right, Facebook, Hitler and vinyl flooring all in one column. What more do you want? Have a good Christmas.

Fun starts before the tree’s even gone up....

It’s almost Christmas, which means the usual annual argument has been raging at chez Canavan.

It concerns the tree.

I come from a household where the tree never, ever went up until the final weekend before Christmas, not because my parents were miserable, more to do with the fact they were teachers and had no spare time until finishing for the Christmas holidays.

My sisters and I spent every day of December whining for a tree (or ‘pining for a tree’ if I was the type who liked puns. But I’m not), only to be rebuffed by our frazzled looking mum and dad, who had spent their day looking after 30-odd brats and had to spend their evenings looking after three more of their own.

My parents weren’t helped by the fact they had the misfortune to live on a road where everyone seemed to go insane come the festive period. Every householder would erect the equivalent of Blackpool Illuminations in their front garden. There were neon reindeer and flashing elves galore. In the midst of it all stood one dark, lonely house – ours.

It used to be annoying but looking back now, I’m glad. It made us appreciate the tree so much more when we finally did put it up, usually about 5pm on Christmas Eve.

It was an arrangement that suited my dad too for the closer you got to Christmas, the cheaper trees became (mainly because by that point they had six branches and no pine needles).

But it’s clearly affected me for as an adult, I too like to put the tree up late – though not so Mrs Canavan who comes from one of those flashing neon reindeer families, where the decorations are up on December 1 without fail.

It’s led to several rows and tantrums, appropriate as that is, after all, essentially what Christmas is all about.