The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - February 11, 2016

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It wasn’t a thrilling weekend. Two months after our wedding and with still no thank you cards written, Mrs Canavan and I put aside Saturday and Sunday to complete the task.

My god it was boring.

We agreed to do half each. Her tactic was to write the same thing on every card – some banal rubbish along the lines of ‘thanks for coming to our wedding and for your lovely gift, it was wonderful that you were able to share what was the most special day of our lives’ (which is certainly not true in my case, it lags way behind Bury’s 5-4 victory over Huddersfield during the 1995-96 season).

I couldn’t be so generic. It didn’t seem right not to make the effort to write a personalised message on each one. However, I didn’t bank on how arduous the task would be.

I started very brightly. ‘Dear Geoff, thanks for coming to our wedding. Pass on my love to Jean and the family. Have you had that mole removed yet? Hope the holiday to Crete goes well, and sorry to hear about the dog – 17 is a good age though! All the best”.

I was also very proud of my diplomacy. For instance, my thank you card to Uncle Brian in Brighton – who, as a present, had bought us a casserole dish so hideous we donated it to the local church raffle – went: ‘Dear Brian. Lovely to have you at our wedding and I want to particularly thank you for the beautiful casserole dish. Mrs Canavan has been using it all the time. In fact, as I write, she is in the kitchen preparing a cottage pie! Thanks once again.’

Blimey, I was good at this.

However, this was at nine in the morning. I’d had coffee, a bacon sandwich and was feeling fresh.

By midday, with excruciating cramp in my arm and the distinct feeling there must be better ways to spend a Saturday, I was getting a little cheesed off – and people were paying for it.

‘Dear Susan and Pete,’ read my one card. ‘Thanks for coming, see you soon.’ Which was possibly a little abrupt given they’d bought us a £75 John Lewis voucher, but, hey, by this point I only had 20 per cent feeling left in my right hand.

As those who have married will no doubt concur, people are wonderfully, humblingly generous with their gifts. But this in itself presents a problem, namely where to put everything you receive.

We live not in a mansion, but a small terraced house in St Annes.

Just sorting the cards was bad enough. We got 244. I wanted to bin them but Mrs Canavan insisted otherwise.

“We can’t throw away our wedding cards!” she stuttered, face aghast, as if I’d suggested decapitating the cat.

This need to hold onto items is definitely a woman thing. My mother, for instance, keeps a small lock of hair that she cut from my head in 1976 – when I was aged one month – in a small envelope in her bedside table.

Occasionally when she’s having a clean out, she’ll get the envelope out and call me to look. “This is your hair from when you were a baby,” she’ll say. “Do you want to hold it?”

To which the answer is no, absolutely not. It hasn’t been washed in four decades. If I don’t give my hair now a thorough dousing with Head and Shoulders every two or three days it stinks, so imagine how manky that bit of baby hair is?

At least cards are small. The gifts we received were of all shapes and sizes and included, in no particular order, seven paintings, 48 champagne flutes, 12 soup bowls, four sets of dinner-plates, and – from my Aunty Vera, who’s always been the thrifty type – oven gloves.

These gifts have ended up costing us money because I’ve had to purchase a dresser from Ikea just to put all the bleedin’ stuff in.

But at least the thank you cards are written, and, with a bit of luck, I might have proper use of my right 
arm again by this time next week.

Edison’s achievements provoke a sharp intake of breath

Thomas Edison was born on this day 169 years ago (in, I’ll save you the maths, 1847) and is the fella most well-known for inventing the lightbulb.

What I like about Edison is that he gives us all hope, for he was chucked out of school by his teachers, who labelled him “addled” and complained that his mind wandered too much. Instead he was taught at home by his mother, who must have been a hell of a teacher for her son went on to become a prolific inventor, holding, at his peak, 1,093 patents. He was responsible for greatly advancing the fields of electricity, x-rays, sound, telephones, and motion pictures and was a true genius.

There are two little-known facts about him worth recounting.

First he had a lifelong hearing problem caused by a conductor lifting him onto a train in his home state of Ohio by his ears.

Second, his final breath (he died in October 1931) is supposedly contained in a test tube at the Henry Ford Museum. Edison was friends with Ford, who apparently convinced Edison’s son Charles to seal a test tube of air in the inventor’s room as he died as a memento. What use that bit of breath is no one knows, but apparently it is one of the museum’s most popular exhibits. Bonkers.