The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - January 23, 2014

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
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Many columnists this week are writing about Syria or the drop in unemployment.

But I’m going to go straight to the big issues – dishwashers and cookery books.

First the dishwasher. My mum has been banging on about wanting one for years. I’m not quite sure why, after all there’s only her at home and the washing up after an average tea consists of a pan, a plate and a knife and fork.

I think it’s because all her friends have got one and she wants to see what the fuss is about. The same happened in the 1980s when microwaves came on the market.

I recall my mum excitedly rushing into town to buy the new Sharp X561d, which was roughly the size of a baby elephant, so large we couldn’t get it through the front door. For the next three years we had to trek into the porch, where the microwave sat on a large, sagging table, to reheat our vegetables.

I remember having an obsession with cooking bacon in the microwave. After years of grilling the stuff, there was suddenly this exotic new way to cook it. However, and as anyone who has tried it will know, after two minutes 30 seconds in a microwave, the bacon that emerges resembles the skin of an albino child and has the texture of a beach ball. But such was the novelty value of microwave-cooked food, I ate my bacon like this for several years before it dawned on me, about aged 19, that it was actually bloody awful and tasted ten times better grilled.

But I digress.

We – my sisters and I – teamed up to buy my mum a dishwasher for Christmas but we have absolutely no idea why we bothered. She has used it once so far, last Sunday when we went round for tea. She ran a bowl of water, washed all the pots, then carefully placed them in the dishwasher.

‘Mum, what are you doing?’ we asked.

“Well, I don’t want to get it dirty,” came the reply. I fear we may have wasted our money.

As for recipe books, my better half has a strange obsession with them. We now have – and this is not a lie – 47 in our kitchen.

To name a few, we own Delia Smith’s Cookery Course, Rachel Khoo’s My Little French Kitchen, The Hairy Dieters, Nigella Express (call me picky but I’m suddenly suspicious of any her recipes that contains white baking powder), The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days, and Food Glorious Food with a foreword by that world-renowned chef Simon Cowell.

Needless to say about 46 of these 47 books we own have never actually been opened.

Mrs Canavan might occasionally leaf through one, look at pictures, remark ‘those salmon fish cakes look nice’, then put it back on the shelf and cook us beans and egg.

I don’t blame her though because we had a bit of a disaster last week.

She finally got round to trying a recipe from a book called Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meals. The idea is what it says on the tin – main meals that take a quarter of an hour to cook.

Mrs Canavan decided to try one and attempted to rustle up Lucky Squid ‘n’ Prawns in a Spicy Vegetable Noodle Broth.

“You’ll definitely start knocking these meals out in 15 minutes,” writes Jamie in the book’s foreword.

“It’s even quicker than going to pick up dinner from a drive-through.”

Mrs Canavan read that out to me before she started.

An hour and a half later, with the kitchen looking like a scene from that Keystone Cops movie where 400 inmates in a jail have a mass food fight, she angrily threw Jamie’s cookbook across the kitchen and stormed out yelling something about going to get a takeaway.

Sighs of relief for me, the boot for him....

It has been rather nice to watch our football reporter, my colleague Will Watt, rushing around like a deranged wasp this week, covering the latest managerial change at Blackpool FC.

It brings back memories for me, for I used to do Will’s job and have been in similar situations on several occasions.

I remember in 2005 getting a tip-off from someone that Colin Hendry was going to be sacked the next day.

I told the then Editor and on my say-so we splashed the story on the front page the following day – ‘Hendry 
Given The Boot’ the big headline.

By 5pm that evening, the club still hadn’t sacked the manager and I had my boss and about 10,000 Blackpool fans asking what the hell was going on.

Just as I was contemplating what different career choices there were at the Jobcentre, the news came through that Hendry had gone.

I’ve never felt so relieved in my life.

A year or so before that I’d sat in a press conference called to announce the resignation of Steve McMahon.

Halfway through it, McMahon knocked on the door – interrupting life radio and TV broadcasts – to announce he’d changed his mind.

Unfortunately for me, I’d written a back page story that day with the headline ‘LIAR’, revealing he’d been for an interview for the job as Oldham manager, despite his denials.

McMahon was a man who could give a Rottweiler a run for its money – so you can imagine what the next few months were like for me, before he finally, mercifully, did get sacked in the April.

It can be a stressful job being a football writer, which is why it’s so nice not to have been involved this last week.