I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not a very good husband.
The more I speak to other people, the more I discover how considerate they are and that they actually do nice things for their other halves.
For example, Mrs Canavan is set to return to work next week after having a year’s holiday – technically it’s known as maternity leave, but given she has spent every day of the last 12 months eating smoked salmon and drinking cappuccinos in cafes with her new mum friends, holiday seems more appropriate.
One of my pals told me that to mark her return to work, I must buy Mrs C a gift.
I adopted an expression of genuine puzzlement and enquired why.
He told me that after a year of spending every waking hour raising her beloved offspring, it is upsetting for a woman to have to return to work and leave her precious child at nursery.
“You’ve got to buy her some chocolates at the very least, maybe some flowers,” he told me. “I bought my wife a watch.”
I stared at him as if he were mad.
If I bought Mrs Canavan a watch she would immediately assume I was having a torrid affair with someone at the badminton club (which, coincidentally, I’m really hoping to do: a girl called Marjorie with a fantastic backhand and superb bosoms has recently joined. I’m trying to woo her - I even wore a new pair of tight-fitting shorts last week - though for the moment she is resisting my charms).
Needless to say, I didn’t buy Mrs Canavan a going-back-to-work present - call me old-fashioned but I think it’s a present enough that I have been paying for everything for the last 12 months while she’s had no income whatsoever (does that make me sound bitter? If so, it’s because I am).
Something else happened the other day that made me question my husband credentials.
I was talking to a female friend who told me that every single night of the week her husband collects her from the train station after she’s finished work.
He drives specially out of his way to do this.
This made me think of the occasion I drove past Mrs Canavan during a terrible storm when the rain was tipping down and it was blowing a gale. As I approached, I slowed, peeped my horn and waved, then accelerated and carried on home, leaving her to walk the final half mile. She was furious when she got in, even after I’d tried to explain that if I’d stopped and opened the car door, a lot of rain might have swept in and my leather upholstery would have got all damp, thus it was best for me to carry on.
It was shortly afterwards that she left home for four weeks and briefly joined a dating website...
Social media makes blokes like me look worse too.
I have acquaintances, otherwise normal and well-rounded people, who go on Facebook and leave their partners gushing messages. One close friend of mine posted this the other day: “Just want to say how fantastic my wife is. You are an amazing, life changing, exhilarating, wonderful woman and I’m in total awe of you. Love you babe #yourockmyworld”.
After I had finished violently vomiting into a plastic bag, I continued reading and saw that his wife had commented back: ‘I love you too darling so so much #youretheone’.
Now you could argue that all this is very lovely and touching, but these people live together. Here’s an idea: why not tell each other how you feel in the privacy of your own lounge and save the rest of us from having to read such drippy nonsense? It’s the equivalent of marching into the street with a megaphone and shouting about how much you adore your wife. You just wouldn’t do it, well, not unless you were mentally unstable.
I do believe that, despite the above, I am a kind person. I have all sorts of caring and considerate thoughts. The problem is I forget to do them.
For example, around three years ago I invited two elderly neighbours for Sunday tea.
Their faces absolutely lit up. “Oh that’s wonderful,” Mavis, at number seven, told me. “I never get any visitors at the weekend and time passes so slowly, so it will be lovely to have some company.”
I promised to get it arranged, then bade her farewell, and wandered off with the warm glow of satisfaction and righteousness that comes with knowing you’ve done a good deed.
That conversation happened in 2015. Ever since I have, every so often, said to Mrs Canavan, ‘remind me to get that Sunday meal organised some time.’
It has yet to happen and indeed is unlikely to any time soon, as one of them passed away late last year.
I do occasionally actually do nice things - why, only this week I set up the ironing board for Mrs Canavan before she did the ironing - but I do concede that I need to improve.
Who knows, if Mrs C’s luck is in this year, I might even get her a birthday card.
What football should be about
You’ve probably never heard of Rennie Parker, which is a shame because he was a terrific man.
When I joined the Blackpool Gazette as a young reporter back in 2002, I began covering the football club and went to every game at Bloomfield Road.
There was an elderly chap selling the Golden Gamble lottery tickets before each match and we soon got talking - mainly because it was hard not to talk to him, he loved a natter. He was belting, always a smile on his face, and always a joy to chat to.
His name was Rennie, and he died last week at the grand old age of 97.
I’d not seen Rennie for a few years, not since I stopped working as a football reporter in 2012. But I’d always remembered him because of his friendliness and kindness.
At a time when Blackpool FC is riddled with problems and supporter unrest, it’s important to remember that people like Rennie is what football should be all about.
One man who loved his football and loved his club and gave up so much of his own time to help it.
A lovely person who will be sadly missed by all who knew him.