The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

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I went some way towards being crowned 2018 Husband of the Year on Sunday when I travelled to Lancaster to watch Mrs Canavan run.

I didn’t do this out of choice, I must confess.

She told me that if I didn’t accompany her she would leave me. Which was tempting, but in truth I wouldn’t want that – like the slightly unsightly wart on my neck, I’ve grown used to having her around.

Sometimes she even feels like part of the family.

My trek to Lancaster was even more impressive given that Sunday, as you may recall, was when more bad weather hit.

Lancaster is not a low-lying place and so even though I dressed in scarf, hat, gloves and the new thermal jockstrap my mother bought me for Christmas (an unorthodox gift granted, but it made a nice change from shortbread).

Being out on the street felt like being stood on the top shelf of a fridge-freezer.

It might not have been so bad had there been something interesting to witness but watching people run is about as thrilling as watching grass grow and then writing a 10,000 word dissertation on it.

You stand at a specific point along the course, then some heavily-sweating people dressed in Lycra and breathing as if in the midst of a life-threatening asthma attack lumber towards you.

You clap and shout an inane comment like ‘well done, keep going, not much further’ (regardless of how much further to go there actually is) and then they disappear into the distance.

A spectator sport it is not.

The run was 20 miles and took Mrs Canavan three and a half hours to complete.

I must admit I spent most of that time in a series of cosy coffee shops quaffing over-priced cappuccinos and reading a book, so it wasn’t an unpleasant experience.

In fact I was enjoying myself so much that it was only as I casually glanced at my watch midway through a very tasty ham and cheese toastie that I suddenly realised my beloved was due in at any moment and so had to abruptly ditch my grub and hotfoot it to the finish line, which was at the top of a steep hill in the grounds of Lancaster Castle.

Watching a steady stream of bedraggled runners complete the 20 miles and stagger towards the tape reminded me why I will never voluntarily choose to take up running.

One man, seconds after finishing, bent double, stared wild-eyed into the distance as if recalling a childhood trauma, and then, with a loud wretch, projectile vomited all over the ancient cobblestones and his right trainer – and he was in much better shape than most of the others.

Everyone looked shell-shocked. It was like watching an army who’ve suffered a horrific and catastrophic defeat stumble back to their base.

Many, many minutes later, Mrs Canavan appeared out of the freezing mist and began to wobble towards the line, travelling at about the same pace as a tortoise with one of its legs in traction.

‘Well done, keep going, not much further’ I shouted.

She looked in my direction and, summoning her last remaining reserve of energy, weakly raised her hand to wave, like the Queen with an arthritic wrist.

As she crossed the line she checked her watch (all runners do this – it’s a condition they suffer from) and then advanced towards me with arms open wide, wanting a hug.

The armpits of her running top were stained with sweat and I could smell her from 10 yards away.

To be fair to Mrs C though, at least she finished.

On the same day, as you might have read, a long-distance run in North Yorkshire had to be called off midway through as most of the 300 participants became stranded in snow drifts.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service deployed six ambulances, a rapid response vehicle, an emergency care practitioner and a clinical supervisor.

Almost 40 runners were taken to hospital with hypothermia.

“The wind was blowing snow across and it was very cold – with the wind chill it was around -8C,” said a chap from the mountain rescue team which helped ferry runners to safety.

All of which makes me feel proud of Mrs Canavan for completing her race, though strengthens my argument that running isn’t a sensible idea for most sane people.

Don’t get me wrong, I do admire folk who put on a pair of trainers and head outdoors.

But if it’s okay with you, I’ll stick with a toastie, a paper, and a nice pair of comfortable slippers.

Wedding overkill is not to my taste

Forget Russia and the prospect of the UK being wiped out by one of Putin’s nuclear bombs, the big news this week is that Prince Harry and that Megan woman he’s about to marry have decided on a cake.

That’s right – jolly exciting news isn’t it?

N0.3 on a list of the BBC’s most-read stories of the day – ahead of, No.7, ‘US School Shooting: Attacker injures two at Maryland school’, and, No.8, ‘Spy Poisoning: Russian Diplomats asked to leave UK’ – we, the reader, were informed that the couple have opted for an organic lemon and elderflower cake, which sounds fancy but taste-wise surely isn’t a patch on a chocolate sponge.

It is being made by a Californian pastry chef and – according to a statement (yes, there was a cake statement) – will “involve spring flavours and be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers”.

When Mrs Canavan and I married we paid a member of my mother’s bridge club – Betty – £25 to rustle us up a lemon drizzle.

The BBC story included quotes from various people, including a Kensington Palace spokesperson saying: ‘The couple are very much looking forward to sharing the cake with their wedding guests’.

Well blow me, really? That’s so unusual. Normally the bride and groom scoff the whole lot themselves...

I get this marriage is a big deal but must we be informed about every detail? What next – a statement about which socks ushers will wear?

The wedding takes place, as you all must know by now, on May 19.

All I can say is roll on May 20.