The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - May 21, 2014

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I wandered into the bathroom the other night to get washed – I’m quite hygienic like that; once a fortnight I even shower too – and noticed Mrs Canavan using my toothbrush.

‘What are you doing?’ I shrieked, in a voice loud enough to make the cat stop scratching the paint from the bedroom door and sit bolt upright.

Mrs C turned from the sink and looked at me blankly, toothpaste gently dribbling down her chin.

“You’re using my toothbrush,” I screamed, even louder. The cat scarpered with an alarmed look on its face.

“So?” she said, shrugging her shoulders and turning back to the sink to continue brushing.

I was so horrified that I struggled to get my words out in coherent fashion but, in a nutshell, launched into a lengthy and, in places, I’m ashamed to admit, rather foul-mouthed tirade about how wrong and disgusting this was. “Oh, sorry,” she said, in a manner which made it clear she wasn’t sorry in the slightest. “But I don’t see what the big deal is – I hardly ever check what toothbrush I use.”

At this point I started physically gagging, but worse still, after further questioning, it transpired that, for the last six years, Mrs Canavan has been using whichever toothbrush she happens to pick up, regardless of whether or not it is hers.

By the time she finished telling me this I was so apoplectic that the cat, terrified, locked itself in the coat cupboard and refused to come out.

I accused Mrs Canavan – who, by the way, continued using my toothbrush throughout this exchange, as if taunting me – of being incredibly, indefensibly lazy. I mean we have two toothbrushes. They are in a glass by the sink. One is blue, the other pink. It is clear which one is hers (the blue one). All she has to do is pick the damn thing up and use it, leaving me to use mine.

Furthermore, I babbled at her, using another person’s toothbrush is such an unhygienic thing to do.

A toothbrush – like, say, a cricket box or a jockstrap – is sacred. It’s yours alone, you don’t use someone else’s.

It’s not like the shower gel, an item you can share, or shampoo. A toothbrush is something you insert into your mouth and, quite frankly, as much as I love my partner, I do not want her saliva and slobber all over my brush.

For a few moments I considered informing her the relationship was over, packing a suitcase, and flouncing out but, on reflection, decided this might be a slight over-reaction (plus I was in my pyjamas, it was cold out, and Mrs Canavan had just made a nice mug of cocoa).

So instead I went on the internet to see if there were any guidelines about using someone else’s toothbrush – and, to my delight, there was.

“No matter how close you are with your husband, boyfriend, or friend, never share your toothbrush,” said a report on a website called Oxyfresh. “You can easily transfer germs and illnesses such as common cold, flu, or hepatitis through sharing.”

I triumphantly showed this to Mrs Canavan, though by now she was watching One Born Every Minute, so whether she took it in or not is open to debate.

However, since then, two things have happened.

One, I have taken my toothbrush from the bathroom and placed it in a glass on my bedside table. It is slightly inconvenient having to take it from bedroom to bathroom and back again every time I clean my teeth, but at least I can rest safe and secure in the knowledge that my brush will never again be sullied.

And two, every time I go anywhere near the bathroom the cat starts shaking and bolts into the coat cupboard.

Spare a few hours to help at hospital?

I am about to begin work at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital.

I’m not a doctor, I hasten to add. I believe it takes a bit of training and I don’t have the necessary seven years spare.

I have become a volunteer, and I’m not the only one. Hundreds of people throughout the Fylde give their time free of charge to help out at the hospital, whether it be serving tea and coffee to patients, acting as navigators to direct visitors to the correct wards, or pushing a library trolley around.

What has surprised me is the reaction I’ve received when I’ve told friends I’m doing it.

“Really?” they say. “Why?” Which I find odd, because it’s no big deal.

The hospital asks its volunteers to commit a minimum of five hours a week. I work full-time, but my weekends are free and given the amount of time I sit around watching TV or reading books, I’m sure I can find the time to pop to the Vic and do a good deed instead.

The role volunteers play at the hospital is crucial, and helps keep the place running.

There is a recruitment drive on at the moment. If you can spare a few hours a week and you fancy it, contact nicci.hayes@bfwh.nhs.uk or call (01253) 957904.