The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - October 13, 2016

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Other than being forced to attend a Donald Trump seminar on how to treat women, I can’t think of a worse way to spend a weekend than decorating.

And up to this point in my life - at the grand old age of 40 - I haven’t had to.

Prior to moving in with my beloved - the cat - and another person - Mrs Canavan - a few years back, I had always lived in rented accommodation.

It was, I thought, a quite wonderful arrangement.

When a problem arose - say the boiler exploded or a window fell out or I got a tad bored of the paisley wallpaper in the lounge and wanted it changed - I’d simply ring the landlord and get him to call out the relevant workman, then I’d put my feet up on the coffee table and continue watching The One Show.

Since buying my own property, though, I’ve discovered it to be a very different experience.

Now when the boiler conks out, I - and this came as a shock – have to sort it myself.

And so it was, that with a baby on the way and Mrs Canavan suddenly deciding she wants to spruce up the house before the little so-and-so arrives, I found myself in B&Q at 10 past 9 on Saturday morning buying paint. If I have been more depressed in recent years about the hand life has dealt me, I cannot remember it.

“I’m not sure what shade of grey we should get,” Mrs Canavan was wittering as we paced up and down the paint aisle, me rubbing sleep from my eyes, her seemingly actually enthusiastic about the weekend in store. “I want to paint the skirting board a slightly deeper grey than the paint we’re using around the coat cupboard. But it can’t be too heavy because it’s a dark room anyway so it needs something to lift it.”

‘I haven’t got any interest whatsoever in what you’re saying,’ I wanted to respond, but aware this would result in a slap to the mush, I instead replied, ‘yes, I know what you mean’.

I must have used the wrong tone of voice though, for she immediately got snappy and said ‘you’re not remotely bothered are you? What did I just say about the grey?’

“Erm, something about dark?’ I responded, vaguely.

Not for the first time in our relationship she shook her head and looked at me as if out of the four billion men currently residing on planet earth, she had selected the worst possible one as a husband.

As disinterested as I was in the whole decorating procedure, I must admit that I did enjoy B&Q’s paint section.

Two blokes stood behind a big desk and once we had selected the shade of paint we (or rather Mrs Canavan) wanted, they put it in a kind of glass oven thing where it bounced around madly for couple of minutes. Mrs C spotted my confusion and told me this was to mix it. One of the chaps also saw me staring but must have confused it for genuine interest for he said to me, ‘good choice of colour that, and good paint too - lower viscosity so the application’s easier and it’s got an exceptional wet hide which is great because you see the true end result asap.’

I nodded, sagely, and despite not having the faintest idea what he was talking about, said ‘yes, that’s why we chose it’.

Back home, we began the actual decorating. We were doing the hall, stairs and landing. I say we, I did the painting while Mrs Canavan sat a few yards away on a chair, nibbling a cheese sandwich and occasionally saying ‘you’ve missed a bit there’ or ‘don’t drip it on the skirting board you idiot’.

I must admit that I actually enjoyed the first 10 minutes of my first ever painting experience, constantly stopping to admire my work and thinking how jolly enjoyable decorating is and wondering why I hadn’t taken it up sooner. Indeed in my head I was beginning to think about setting up a small but profitable business, Canavan and Co, and driving a white van around town doing jobs for the elderly and vulnerable, and perhaps being awarded an MBE for my efforts.

But then, from the 10th minute onwards, as I realised how much was left to do and how incredibly boring painting a wall is, I decided I could live without an MBE.

One thing that particularly annoyed me was the discovery that it is impossible to paint something without getting paint all over oneself. I lost count of the number of times I had to run to the sink to splash water on my face after getting a blob of Dulux in my eyes. I also - I realised later that evening - neglected to put enough plastic sheets beneath where I was working, for when I peeled them off later that day, there appeared to be only marginally less paint on the carpet than on the walls. The end result is we now need new carpets.

At various points in the day, I trapped my finger in the stepladder (such was my cry of anguish our next door neighbour knocked on the door to ask if I was being attacked by an intruder); got cramp in my left shoulder from using the roller; felt sick from the fumes; and almost physically attacked Mrs Canavan when, just as I was near to finishing, she announced, ‘actually I’m not sure about that grey, maybe we should go for green instead’.

It is the first time in living memory I’ve been glad to get a weekend over with and to get back to work. Next time I move house, it will be into rented accommodation.

I couldn’t make my move to the remote

Now I realise I’m a little late on to this, but I watched Strictly for the first time the other night.

I didn’t do this by choice. Mrs Canavan had fallen asleep on my lap (at 7pm on a Saturday, which perhaps best sums up the type of wild lifestyle we lead these days; the highlight of the week is Tuesday when we mow the lawn).

Strictly came on the tele and the remote was on the coffee table, just out of reach, so I had to sit and watch the whole damn thing.

I believe it is the most-watched programme in Great Britain – 10 million viewers and counting - and although it is kind of slick and fast-moving, I couldn’t fathom why it is quite so popular.

Watching people dance is mildly diverting I suppose. One of the best parts of being at a wedding is taking a seat near the dance floor and watching an uncle who’s already had a little too much to drink attempting to do the jive to a Beatles song and dislocating his hip.

But to spend a whole Saturday evening watching a bunch of ex-politicians, singers and soap stars having a bash at the samba doesn’t really float my boat.

Mrs Canavan woke just as Ed Balls, the former Shadow Chancellor lest we forget, emerged from some dry ice with his face painted bright green and began gyrating his hips.

Never before have I reached for the remote control so quickly.