Spanish villa dream now further away than ever for Steve Canavan

I’ve always harboured hopes that one of my children may excel in something, earn a load of money, and then buy me – in my dotage – a large but not too ostentatious villa (eight bedrooms, hot tub, giant statues of two lions at the end of a 60-foot driveway, that kind of thing), possibly on the Spanish coast.

By Suzanne Steedman
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th February 2022, 2:30 pm

I mean it’s not too much to ask is it?

After all I’ve pretty much sacrificed my chance to be happy in life since having kids and instead of spending my days doing what I want – hiking on the fells, reading books, playing my guitar, walking round the house naked while whistling the theme tune to the popular 1980s TV quiz show Bullseye – every waking hour is now taken up with doing what they want.

I was dwelling on this with some depression the other night when an unattached friend of mine sent me a message at 6.30pm, saying he was sat in a bar and had decided to go and see a gig afterwards and would I like to join him.

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As I read this, I was lay on the kitchen floor playing a board game with my four-year-old daughter Mary called Llamas in Pyjamas in which, by laying cardboard shapes out on the floor, the aim is to correctly dress four of the afore-mentioned animals in the correct night-time attire. My son, Wilf, aged two, was running up and down the room, taking great care to, whenever he passed the area in which we were playing, kick as many of the cardboard pieces away as he could. Each time he did this, Mary would begin screaming and crying and shout ‘he’s ruining our game’, and I had to calm her down, painstakingly put all the pieces back in the correct place, and then two seconds later Wilf would charge back across the room and kick them all away – and the whole cycle of hell began again.

I replied to my friend with the words – ‘Can’t make it tonight. Enjoy the gig. I hate you.’

And that’s basically how every day of my life goes, so the very least I want out of this absolutely rubbish deal is for one of my children to become rich and give me some cash.

Which leads me to Wednesday, when I took Mary to her first football session.

It hadn’t been arranged by me I must add. Mrs Canavan is very much in charge of what our children do and I sometimes feel sorry for them because their days are more regimented and structured than the average British soldier.

‘Make sure you take Mary to multisports at 8.30am tomorrow,’ Mrs Canavan will say on a Friday evening. ‘Oh and then she’s got dance at 10 and swimming at 11.30 with Irene. Give me a ring if you need me but I might not answer because I’ll be with Wilf at karate and abseiling.’ I often think our children will spend their entire adulthood slumped on a settee eating chocolate and watching Netflix as a kind of rebellion against what they were forced to do in their youth.

Anyway, I must admit I wasn’t against Mary having a go at footie because I was a pretty good player back in the day (I once scored four goals in a match, and let me tell you scoring four own goals takes some doing) and I’d hoped she might have my genes and be decent at it.

In fact as we drove towards the sports hall where the session was taking place, I dreamily pictured my daughter turning out to be some kind of cross between George Best, Diego Maradona and Bobby Charlton (minus the drink, cocaine and terrible combover), and slaloming past 20 other children on her way to planting a right footed shot into the top corner, leaving the watching coaches and parents open-mouthed, shaking their heads, and saying things like, ‘that Canavan girl – wow, what a find!’

This image was destroyed within about 20 seconds of Mary taking the pitch as she went to kick a ball, missed it, and fell on her face.

She ran back to me crying and I had to sit her on my knee and give her two bites of the Jaffa Cake saved for such emergencies to calm her down.

‘Daddy, I don’t like football,’ she said, eyes red and swollen with upset.

“Nonsense,” I replied. “It’s a great sport full of well-rounded, decent people like Mason Greenwood and Kurt Zouma.”

‘I don’t know who they are daddy,’ she said, ‘but I don’t want to play.’

The next half-hour of the £5-a-head 45-minute session were spent trying to coax her back on to the pitch.

Every other child was having a great time and their parents, watching from the sidelines, were laughing and joking with each other and shouting things like ‘good save Tom’, ‘terrific tackle Megan’, and ‘this lasagne tastes fantastic’ (the last guy had bought his tea with him – very odd).

Meanwhile I had a sobbing sulking child on my knee.

But not to worry, I thought at least it means she won’t want to come back and neither of us would have to go through this again.

Then the very last thing the coaches did was split the group into two teams for a game.

Persuaded by another girl to join in, Mary did and spent the next 15 minutes running around having a great time.

At no point did she realise it was a football match and the point was to score a goal and win.

She instead thought it was some form of tig, and spent the entire time running away from the others. She did touch the ball once, but only by accident when she wasn’t fully focused on where she was going.

‘Daddy, that was brilliant, can we go again next week?’ she asked when we got back to the car.

Good god almighty, give me strength.

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