The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

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Splashing out on a bathroom was a push and talk of well-hung toilets almost proves too much to bear

Mrs Canavan recently returned from a visit to a friend’s house and announced she wanted a new bathroom.

I asked why.

‘Because Sandra’s is beautiful,’ she said. ‘It’s got a free-standing bath, a walk-in shower, and a double sink.’

“Well, perhaps that’s because Sandra’s husband is a banker and gets paid vast amounts of money,” I retorted, perhaps a little too sharply. “And anyway, why do they need a double sink – do they brush their teeth at exactly the same time every night and need the extra space?”

She looked at me with disdain, then reminded me that after moving in July 2011 into the house in which we currently reside, we had agreed the bathroom needed upgrading as a matter of urgency.

Almost eight years on - and perhaps reflecting my lack of aptitude for any form of DIY (I recently had to watch an instructional video on YouTube to discover how to bleed the radiator) – the bathroom has not been touched, other than the addition of a small green and red patterned bath mat I picked up from Dunelm Mill in late 2014.

‘We’re going to a bathroom shop,’ she announced.

And so we did, the very next morning.

It was clearly a quiet day at the store for we had barely set foot in the place when we were pounced upon by an elderly chap who looked as though he had worked there since around the time Chamberlain pledged peace in our time.

‘Can I help?’, he boomed in my direction, ear trumpet at the ready in case of a reply.

As it happened he could help, as I didn’t have the faintest clue what I was looking for. Actually that’s not quite true. Mrs Canavan had made it clear she wanted a new bathroom suite, namely a bath, a sink and a toilet. However, what I hadn’t bargained for was the bewildering array of different baths, sinks and toilets there were to choose from.

Not since going to the Glastonbury music festival as a youth had I seen so many toilets in one area, though the ones in the store were far less soiled and there weren’t people queueing around the block to use them.

‘Which toilet are you after?’ asked our elderly helper, who was wearing a name-badge with ‘Stanley’ printed on it in large letters. He also, I noted, had a large red stain on his white work shirt that looked as if was the result of either a tomato ketchup spillage or a stab wound to the chest. If it was the latter and he’d insisted on finishing his shift, he is a shoo-in for employee of the month.

“Which toilet do I want? Erm, a white one please,” I replied, adding as an afterthought, “with a flush.”

He nodded sagely, then shook his head and looked forlorn, as if he were about to inform me my dog had been run over and fatally wounded by a passing Renault Clio.

‘Well, it’s not that simple,’ he sighed, dentures gleaming in the shop’s artificial lights. ‘We’ve close-coupled toilets, wall-hung toilets or back-to-wall toilets.’

He stopped at this point, clearly waiting for a response. As I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about – I’d previously thought all toilets the same, I’d never dreamed there were actually different models - I made a sort of slightly awkward grunting sound, as if I’d stubbed my toe.

‘Now I can see you’re struggling a little,’ said Stanley, ‘so what I’d recommend is our demi close coupled WC and express cloakroom basin. It’s our top seller, £98, but we can get that to below 80.

‘It’s got deep curves,’ he added, looking Mrs Canavan up and down in slightly disconcerting manner, ‘so it introduces a sense of femininity to your bathroom design.

‘The cistern is WRAS approved and it has a top class waste spigot.’

I nodded enthusiastically, feeling sure I looked exactly like a guy who knew a good waste spigot when he saw one.

‘It’s perfect in tight places and has a soft close Thermoplast seat. Basically, you won’t get better for the price.’

That was just the toilet. There was the rest of the bathroom to consider.

I hadn’t thought taps, for example, would be such a major issue. I was wrong. Turns out there are waterfall taps, freestanding bath taps, taps on a budget, bathroom mixer taps, traditional basin taps, wall mounted taps, taps that glow in the dark, taps that vacuum the lounge, taps that do an impression of Rod Stewart, taps that look after your new-born child while you’re out shopping.

Mrs Canavan, spotting this was all becoming too much for me, suggested I go for a short walk.

When I returned she had ordered a complete new bathroom suite, paying with my credit card. “Do you need the pin number?” I asked. ‘I already know it,’ she replied.

The bathroom is being delivered next month. I intend to be out when it comes – one more conversation about wall-hung toilets may prove too much.

Taking it all a bit too seriously

In an attempt to stay reasonably healthy as old age approaches, I play five-a-side football on a Friday evening.

After this hour of exercise - I say exercise, I normally spend around half the game in goal and the other half wandering forlornly on the right wing waiting for a pass - I reward myself with a bacon sandwich and a pint or two of bitter, thus destroying any good I have done by exercising in the first place.

But I digress. A new chap recently started playing with our crowd, a chap who I can only surmise has mistaken the astroturf at Stanley Park for Old Trafford.

He takes things remarkably seriously and spends more time during the match shouting than actually playing.

He comes out with some belting stuff.

“Control the centre lads,” he screamed last week, which, I noted, resulted in one of the regulars - Big Bob, a plumber from South Shore - giving the new lad a withering look.

He has several favourite shouts. “Into the channels”, he often yells, along with “don’t get square”. The other nine lads on the pitch, whose only interest is to survive the hour without collapsing and get home in time for the start of Have I Got News For You, haven’t the faintest clue what he’s talking about and ignore him and yet it doesn’t seem to stop him.

“Bob, Bob, simple lay off round the back”, “Not there Duggie, nice and easy, use the keeps”, “Dig it out Jimbo, go sideways round the corner”.

In fairness, it has made the session much more interesting and we await to see what gems he comes up with tomorrow.