The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

pine nuts
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Some people like to see in the New Year by drinking themselves senseless, partying hard, or spending it with family. Me? I like to spend it alone on a hotel toilet in Sheffield.

Let me explain.

My wife’s sister married on New Year’s Eve and naturally – as a result of being her sister and all that – my wife was invited. By extension that meant me too.

It was a vegan wedding. My sister-in-law and new husband are against meat, fish, dairy or indeed any kind of food that tastes nice.

I have nothing against this and respect anyone who fights for something that means a lot to them.

However, weddings are long days and the food kind of keeps you going, so I was nervous.

I contemplated bringing a doggy-bag containing some pork sausages, a boiled egg and a selection of cheeses, just so I wouldn’t go hungry, but Mrs Canavan made it clear that if I did she would never talk to me again. Tempting as that was, I decided it probably wasn’t the best way to start a new year.

We sat down for the meal a few hours in. The starter was pine nuts and olives. Now I’m not being picky here – other than pickled gherkins, which look like evil little green monsters, I’ll have a bash at eating anything. But if I was in a restaurant and the waiter said ‘you can have anything you like on the menu sir, anything’, I doubt very much I’d reply, ‘hey you know what, bring me the pine-nuts’.

In fairness, it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable wedding, and I must report the main course of butternut squash pie was lovely.

The problem was that we had our 22-month-old daughter Mary with us and as any parent will attest, a night out with your offspring in tow is rarely a good night.

This proved especially so during the meal, when, perched on my knee, I felt a strange sensation and glanced down to see a large damp patch on my trousers, shirt and jacket. It slowly and horrifically dawned on me that Mary had urinated with such force it had come out of her nappy and all over her father.

I took Mary outside, stripped off her sodden clothes (she wasn’t best pleased about this; it was December 31 in Sheffield, temperature minus 3) and put on her pyjamas. Alas I didn’t have a change of outfit myself, so while Mary spent the remainder of the night dry and happy, I spent it in damp urine-soaked clothing smelling like a public lavatory.

Back inside the loud music continued and by 10pm our daughter – normally in bed at 7 – was over-tired and screaming in unhappiness.

I told my wife I’d take her back to the hotel. I expected Mrs Canavan to say, ‘well if you’re going I’ll come too’. Instead she responded ‘okay, I’ll see you later’.

Our hotel was, according to fellow wedding goer, 20 minutes away. I strolled into the night but heard a noise behind me and turned to see Mrs Canavan sprinting towards me. I thought she’d give me a sympathetic hug and say she was coming with me. Instead, she said, ‘I’ve run out of money – can I borrow a tenner?’

An hour later – after asking three taxi-drivers for directions – I mercifully located the hotel. Mary was still awake. As anyone who has stayed in a hotel room with a young child will attest, it is difficult to get a youngster off to sleep if you’re in the vicinity.

So at 11.45pm, with her still crying, I sang Ba Ba Black Sheep for the 127th time, kissed her, and retreated to the bathroom so she could have the room to herself.

It was there, 15 minutes later, that I saw in the new year, holding a small bottle of lager in one hand and sitting on the toilet because that is the only place available to sit when one is in a hotel bathroom (you could sit in the sink but the taps might dig in your back).

That is the tale of my New Year’s Eve, possibly the worst I’ve had - and I include in that the time I broke my finger after accidentally trapping it in the door of a Fiat Punto. Hope yours was better.