The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - September 22, 2016

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I’m at an age now where I have to buy things like ankle supports.

They are, for the benefit of readers who possess nice plump healthy ankles and do not require them, a kind of sturdy bandage you wrap around the joint, which keeps it stable when one is playing sport.

You can also get them for your knee, elbow, or pretty much any other part of your body that’s conking out.

I purchased one because of an injury I sustained while playing badminton, a sport I participate in twice a week for two reasons: to kid myself into thinking I’m still young and athletic, and because one of the members is a blonde-haired woman called Laura who wears an incredibly short skirt.

The sad thing is that even something as innocuous as hitting a shuttlecock around is, at my advanced stage of life, becoming hazardous.

I was in the act of executing a quite exquisite cross-court drop-shot (my trademark shot; well, actually that’s not true - my trademark shot is mis-hitting the shuttle and sending it on to a different court altogether) when I felt a pop in my calf, followed by a burning sensation the like of which I’ve not experienced since I came down with a rather unpleasant water infection while on a camping trip to Anglesey in April ’07.

My ankle swelled up to roughly the size of a water-melon and I limped off court whimpering like a dog hit by a Volvo estate.

As concerned passers-by rushed to my aid (by that I mean the chap on the next court said ‘can you hurry up and get off, you’re right in my eye-line’) I pretended I wasn’t in any pain.

All men do this in front of strangers. We cannot show we’re suffering. It must be some sort of British male-pride thing, or perhaps just embarrassment at causing a scene, but I do believe that if I was shot through the heart with a bullet and as blood splurted from my chest someone asked if I was Ok, I’d reply ‘fine thanks, lovely day isn’t it’.

The exception to this, of course, is members of your own family, in front of whom it is absolutely fine to be ill or in pain.

If I have a slight sniffle at home, for instance, I’ll spend the day wrapped in a duvet on the couch watching reruns of Morse on ITV4 while weakly asking Mrs Canavan if she’ll bring me a cocoa, and perhaps some steak and chips and a pint of Boddingtons while she’s at it.

Anyway, I digress. I had hurt my ankle and after spending a couple of evenings with a bag of frozen peas strapped to my foot – the age-old treatment for any muscle-strain, though it doesn’t half mean a lot of peas go to waste - I decided to invest in an ankle support.

I thought this would be straightforward but by crikey I was mistaken, for the range of ankle supports on sale is mind-boggling.

I could and should have purchased the Boots own brand - which is about seven quid and looks perfectly fine – but I allowed myself to be seduced by all the others in their fancy packages.

One was priced £69.99, which I grant you is excessive for what is effectively a small bandage, but it sounded thrilling.

“This support comes with integrated silicone pads and specially knitted comfort zones which have a massage effect and aids rapid reduction of haematomas and oedema while improving proprioception”. Wow, you know something is good when you have to whip out a dictionary just to understand it.

There was a whole shelf-full of other ankle supports (my favourite the Hydro TX441 Extra Plus Professional, which had the almost unfathomable write-up on its packet: ‘We use Nasa technology, an anatomic design and unique Breath-o-Prene material, as well as in-built stabilisers at 60 degrees and a protruding girth-line on the outer flacket’) and I spent several happy minutes wandering back and forth, surveying what was on offer, like a man carefully pondering which fine red wine to buy.

After much deliberation I eventually paid £45 for a snazzy looking yellow and red ankle support that promised ‘total healing within 48 hours’.

Two days later I wore it to play football, pulled up after five minutes with an even worse recurrence of the injury, and had to be helped to my car by two team-mates.

Next time I’ll stick to the frozen peas.

What’s in a name? About 3,110 miles...

Story of the week has to be the woman from Devon who phoned Barnstaple Police station to report a speeding car.

The slight problem was that she called Barnstaple, Massachusetts.

If you’ve listened to the clip, you’ll know it’s rather marvellous (‘I’ve never heard of Ilfracombe madam’), especially the bit where, when it becomes obvious what has happened, the police officer sat at his desk in the USA says in deadpan tone, ‘well ma’am our response time will be about six hours’.

The reason I like this is because it is exactly the kind of thing I can envisage my mother doing, for she can be a tad absent-minded, as an incident last week illustrated.

My mum is chairwoman of her local Bridge Club. She was so proud when she got the role, though she got it less on merit, more the fact the previous incumbent died and the club was going to fold if no one else took over.

Anyway, remarkably, six months on and even under her guidance the club is still in existence.

Then she was asked to book the club’s annual trip to Whitby, which has been happening now for the last 15 years without incident.

She made the booking, the coach dropped off the 36-strong group at their hotel (The Crown), only for a young man at reception to inform them there was no such booking.

‘I think you’re mistaken,’ my mother said, all Hyacinth Bucket, and producing the booking confirmation letter from her handbag, thrust it into the receptionist’s face with a triumphant ‘see, look there’.

‘Erm, I’m sorry madam,’ said the gentleman, ‘but that’s The Crown in Scarborough.

After a desperate search for alternative accommodation failed everyone boarded the coach and came straight back home.

I sense there may be a ballot for a new chairperson fairly soon.