The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - November 5, 2015

Anyone for badminton? Steve Canavan's screen idols - the Countryfile team
Anyone for badminton? Steve Canavan's screen idols - the Countryfile team
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If ever I’m distressed about the state of society today, I make sure I tune into BBC1 on a Sunday and watch Countryfile.

As soon as I see Matt Baker – usually wearing a cardigan, always wearing a smile (I do believe that if Matt were being slowly and painfully squashed under the wheels of a tractor, he’d still be smiling into the camera and saying, ‘now off to Chelmsford for a look at how one local jam-making shop is thriving’) – I am taken to a parallel universe and all is well with the world.

Indeed if the only programme we ever watched was Countryfile, we’d be under the impression that there were no wars, no murders, no horrors at all, just a decrease in jackdaw numbers in Cumbria.

Being such a devotee of the programme, I thought it was about time I paid tribute in print.

I’ll write about the last episode I saw, which was as riveting as always.

I must confess that I missed the start of the programme. Mrs Canavan and I had bought the cat, Percival, a different brand of food, but it backfired when, just after finishing the last morsel, he lifted his head to reveal a strange crazed look in his eyes and then quite spectacularly vomited across the kitchen. I had to clean it up, and hence I was late.

Thus I’m not sure why, but there were several features on this particular edition of Countryfile about broccoli.

First, a man with ginger hair ate nothing but broccoli for six weeks and discovered that his cholesterol levels had lowered. On the downside, he looked distinctly unwell and had an odd green tinge to his face.

There were other mentions of broccoli throughout – I’ll do you a favour and spare you the details – along with some other fascinating features.

First a female reporter drove to what she described as ‘a very remote part’ of North Wales but, as luck would have it, as she strode into a field, blow me, there was a man standing around who she was able to interview. It’s amazing how often this happens in Countryfile. They go to distant, secluded, inhabitable rural locations and yet, lo and behold, there is always someone on hand for them to natter to.

The feature on Wales told us how a whole village – which, if I recall, was named Phlafafelaneeeemmmum (pronounced Phlafafelaneeeemmmum) – was flooded to make way for a reservoir. At one point the camera cut to a man in his late 70s playing a guitar and singing a song about the reservoir.

There was the obligatory John Craven feature. This is always welcome for I love listening to John. He seems lovely – the kind of chap you’d want as your badminton doubles partner – and his voice is wonderfully unique. It’s as if he’s speaking with not just a tennis ball in his mouth, but the racquet too.

Then it was off to Llandudno to an award-winning school, where a forward-thinking teacher has set up a beehive in the playground. The idea is to sell honey and raise money for school funds. If they’d tried this at the comprehensive I went to in Greater Manchester, it would have ended with around 75 teenagers in A&E nursing third degree bee stings.

By the time the show ended – Matt Baker waving goodbye with a smile, while stood on a beach in a cardigan – I felt relaxed and in love once again with our beautiful country.

Sunday can’t come soon enough.

Strike a pose. No, not that one...

I was forced to go shopping in the Trafford Centre this week.

It was to purchase more wedding stuff, but as I’m losing the will to live where my forthcoming marriage is concerned – and I daresay regular readers of this dirge are too – I’ll spare you the exact details.

I do, however, wish to moan about two things.

The first is a shop we went into called Hollister. My complaint is simple – it was almost pitch black inside. They have this moody, low-lighting thing going on – presumably because it looks cool – but the downside is that you can’t see what any of the items inside the store actually look like.

I had to take them off the hanger and wander outside into some light to get a proper look, something which didn’t go down well with security.

My second complaint is the advert above. It was on the wall of a posh shop, and made me wince.

I mean, what a ridiculous pose. I can imagine the conversation between photographer and model. “Now just act natural Jason”. ‘OK, how about I stick my thumb almost in my eye and then put my other finger on my head. Is that natural?’

I get the fact the Hugo Boss folk are trying to show off the watch, but why not have the fella casually glancing at it while on the train, or in the office, like, you know, a normal person.

Anyhow, must dash, it’s time for my tablets.