The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

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I realised the other day that I’m not very good at having fun.

I realised the other day that I’m not very good at having fun.

I’m not sure why this is. I’d like to have fun, but I haven’t got the time because I’m too busy worrying about other stuff.

This hit home the other day when Mrs Canavan purchased a large pumpkin from the local shop.

My immediate response was to pull my face and ask why. She looked at me as though I was insane and shrieked, ’because it’s Halloween’.

(When it comes to annual events, like Easter, Christmas or birthdays, Mrs C is as excitable as a 12-year-old who has consumed five litres of fizzy pop and an oversized bag of Haribo).

Now this pumpkin business is tricky for me to understand because Halloween was never a thing for me when I was a child.

My dad complained that it was too American. In fact, thinking about it, he said anything that involved having fun or spending money was too American. (I remember asking one year if we could go on holiday to Disneyland; he replied ‘no, but we’re going to Whitehaven in a static caravan’.)

Now, as an adult, I kind of agree with my dad about all this commercial nonsense, but Mrs C had a very different upbringing. She went to Disneyland in Paris for goodness sake so she’s the kind of girl who’s going to want a pumpkin at Halloween.

So I bit my tongue and while I busied myself doing all the stuff that actually needed doing - put a wash on, clean the baby’s high chair, change a lightbulb, watch a rerun of Saturday’s Match of the Day - Mrs Canavan spent the next hour in the kitchen using two large knifes to attack the pumpkin.

On the other side of the room, I quietly went about making tea - a completely bland and tasteless chicken casserole; bland and tasteless because we now have to use salt-free baby stock cubes in our food, which, on the upside, is healthy, but, on the downside, gives your food all the taste and flavour of a A4 sheet of paper.

I had finished cooking and washed up by the time Mrs Canavan finally finished her work and held the pumpkin aloft, saying ‘look at this, isn’t it fantastic?’

What she had spent 55 minutes doing, it appeared, was carve out the inside and cut two big holes in the side. It looked like the work of a particularly intellectually-challenged child.

However, what bothered me more was that the whole of the kitchen surface, and most of the floor too, was covered in pumpkin seeds, and juice, and gunk.

I didn’t have time to say ‘are you going to clean that up darling?’ because Mrs Canavan had already raced into the back room where she placed our poor daughter, Mary, in said pumpkin and began taking an array of photographs to add to the 12,000 other pictures we have of our daughter.

And this is when I realised I have a problem with fun.

A large part of me actually wanted to see Mary dressed as a pumpkin, but it was over-ruled by another larger part that thought, ‘no, must get this kitchen tidied up’.

So while my daughter and wife were having a great time in the other room, I was on my hands and knees with a cloth, some Dettol disinfectant spray, and a dustpan and brush.

I can guarantee that had I been alive when man landed on the moon, I’d have missed Neil Armstrong saying ‘one small step for mankind’ because I’d have been in the kitchen scrubbing a soup pan with a brillo pad.

‘Come in Steve, they’re planting the flag’. “I’ll just be two secs – I don’t want this leek and potato to stick”.

I admire Mrs Canavan because she doesn’t seem to let these things bother her.

For instance, she’ll quite happily drink a cup of coffee in the lounge, leave the dirty cup on the side, then head up to bed without a care in the world. If I did this I’d suffer a panic attack around 3am and would be unable to go back to sleep until I went downstairs and rinsed it out.

Mrs Canavan will quite happily leave dirty bowls in various parts of the house for days on end, as if they’re on holiday. Indeed the cup on her bedside table has been there since late 2011. It sends its mates downstairs postcards. (‘Hi there, still in the bedroom. Views great, weather terrific, tell the toaster I miss her - hopefully see you soon’).

I guess I just need to lighten up a bit and realise life’s too short to worry about an unrinsed dish. Or pumpkin juice all over the floor.

Nah, I prefer to complain - this fun business is massively over-rated.

Pyjama time at ours is no party

Generally speaking - and here is a rather raunchy glimpse into my home-life - Mrs Canavan gets changed into her pyjamas about 7pm (as you can tell, we lead a very rock n’roll lifestyle in our house).

It’s annoying for two reasons.

One, it emphasises, with a kind of depressing crushingness, how boring our existence is. (If you want proof of this, we spent our Saturday evening playing Scrabble, got into a heated debate about the legality of the word ‘unusualness’, and went to bed before 10pm not speaking to each other). The second reason it is annoying is because usually, at about 7.30pm, one of us will realise we need a small item buying - say milk, or cat litter, or odour eaters for Mrs Canavan’s trainers - and Mrs C will look at me and say, ‘well I can’t go out - I’m in my pyjamas’.

She says this in a tone of voice that suggests asking her to bob out for milk at 7.30pm (the shop is pretty much directly across the road from our house by the way) is as preposterous as asking her to climb Everest in high heels while hula-hooping.

’You could always,’ I venture, tentatively, ‘go upstairs, put trousers and a top on, and then go out’.

At this suggestion, she spits coffee from her mouth in shock and gasping as if in the throes of a particularly nasty asthma attack, stammer, ‘are you mad - I’m in my pyjamas’.

I imagine that if Mrs Canavan had fought in the Great War and there had been a night-time offensive, she’d have refused to go over the top of the trench on account of the time. (‘I’m sorry Field Marshal Haig but this is ridiculous - I’m in my pyjamas, and I’ve brushed my teeth and put moisturiser on’).

The result of this is that if we require any goods after a certain time of the evening, it is always me that has to go and get them.

Just wanted to get that off my chest. Rant over.