The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - November 24, 2016

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Despite the fact I am – fingers crossed – to become a father in a few months’ time, I must confess that I know absolutely nothing about the whole giving birth malarkey.

To be honest, I’m not that interested. I mean I’ve done my bit. I did it around five-and-a-half months ago, at a B&B in Sedbergh when Mrs Canavan had two glasses of wine and let her guard down. I remember it because it remains the last time it happened.

I’m aware Mrs Canavan is growing increasingly larger by the week, and becoming increasingly less willing to do anything remotely useful around the house – like vacumn the stairs or force-feed the cat his anti-tapeworm tablets – but other than that I’ve been content to remain in a state of blissful ignorance and let the whole pregnancy thing pass by me.

Then, at the weekend, at Mrs Canavan’s insistence, I went on a course.

I think she wanted me to go on a course because over tea one night last week she asked what I knew about labour, and I replied that it’s led by a man with a penchant for brown corduroy jackets.

She replied: “No, be serious.”

And I went: “Yes, I am, every Prime Minister’s Question Time he wears the same one – you must have noticed?”

At which point she stormed from the room and didn’t talk to me for the remainder of the night, while I, puzzled, put it down to hormones and finished eating what remained of her spaghetti bolognaise.

Next thing I know she’d booked us to go on a course, titled ‘What happens when mum goes into labour’.

We went on Sunday and within minutes the man in charge began to talk about something called the mucus plug, at which point I sprinted to the toilet and recycled the aforementioned spaghetti bolognaise (For those unaware of the mucus plug, do not on any account Google it).

What the course primarily taught me is that giving birth is disgusting and I’m not sure why anyone in their right mind would do it.

I learned about the placenta (women give birth twice? Why has no one mentioned this before?), the uterus (which previously I had thought was an outdoor plant), the show (very different from something you’d see at a theatre), as well as the pelvic floor, colostrum, dilation, epidurals, oxytocin, breech presentation, and various other things that, if truth be told, I’d have been much happier not knowing.

To be honest, I’m not sure we should’ve gone on this course, because while it was meant to educate and reassure, it seemed to highlight how many things can actually go wrong. There are so many bits down there to worry about.

At one point we watched a video of a lady giving birth. It was a very quick, very smooth birth and I think it was meant to calm us.

But the woman having the baby looked in absolute agony and as I surveyed the room, many of the females on the premises – and every single bloke – looked white faced and ashen.

One chap, Doug, a builder from Poulton with a nose-ring and a bandana, asked if he could leave for a moment and never returned.

We were told that we, as men, must do everything we can to help our loved one during labour. We must count the contractions and the time between them, rub our partner’s back, run a bath, make food, say the right things... in other words I must do something I’ve never done before with Mrs Canavan – show affection and tenderness.

It could be tricky.

What the course did teach me was what an incredible, marvellous thing it is to give birth, to bring a new human into the world.

Mind you, we’re not exactly on our own.

A quite incredible 360,000 babies are born every single day across the world (that’s a mind-boggling 15,000 a minute).

Given that, in contrast, 151,600 people die each day, it makes you wonder how the planet remains big enough to house us all.

Hopefully, Mrs Canavan and I will add one more to the statistic sometime in March, though I reserve the right to look away if she attempts to show me her mucus plug.

Make sure you don’t miss out on one of the films of the year

I’ve always loved going to the cinema in St Annes. It’s not like these big multiplexes with 75 screens and tubs of popcorn the size of houses.

It’s an independent cinema, it’s four quid for a ticket and what it lacks in razzmatazz it makes up for in character.

All this week it has been showing the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake. It’s been getting brilliant write-ups and is a gritty account of the benefits system.

It’s not exactly a cheery uplifting film – take a tissue – and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (don’t expect a Hollywood style ending) but I absolutely recommend it and it leaves you thinking afterwards. There but for the grace of God and all that.

It was just a shame the Saturday night screening we attended was only watched by about eight other people, which, given it is in St Annes for one week only and isn’t on in many places in the north-west, is a bit of a shame.

Be warned – last screening is, I think, tonight and if you don’t see it then in my opinion you’ve missed out.