The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - April 3, 2014

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I’ve booked to go to Vancouver in Canada later in the year.

I’ve heard it’s like the Lake District, except a tad bigger. And unlike the Lakes, where the biggest danger is heavy traffic, it has something that can kill you – bears. Big ones.

After booking, you see, I did a little research.

I know most people do the research prior to booking, but I’ve always thought that’s for wimps.

I prefer closing my eyes, pointing at a map, and booking the country my finger lands on.

Vancouver, it seems, and the north west of Canada, has rather a lot of bears, around 900,000.

They kill an average of two people a year, which, if one of those two turns out to be me, would definitely put a dampener on my holiday.

While reading about these attacks I came across a chap called Joe Azougar.

A pleasant middle-aged fella, he was sitting outside his wood cabin a year ago, sipping on a coffee and thinking ‘my, what a lovely peaceful day’, when he heard a vibration, “like thunder”.

“I turned to my right and there was a black bear running at me, drooling,” said Joe, who presumably at this point had put down his cappuccino and uttered several words the Pope wouldn’t approve of.

Fortunately, Joe had a German Shepherd, which launched itself at the bear in a bid to protect its owner.

(Which backs up my long-held belief that dogs are better than cats; I mean can you imagine a cat attempting to fight off a bear?

The cat would be inside, stretched on the sofa, slightly cheesed-off that his morning nap was being disturbed 
by the sound of his owner’s legs being ripped off).

Joe ran inside his cabin, as you would, and shut the door just in time to see the bear dragging the lifeless body of his dog into the bushes.

“A minute later,” said Joe, “the bear ran straight to the window of the cabin and smashed it with one swing.”

Joe, who by this point must have been thinking ‘gee, this day isn’t turning out how I planned’, made a break for the road 50 yards away.

The bear followed, and swung its paw, which hit Joe on the shoulder and sent him flying into a ditch.

“It jumped on my back and started scalping me with his front teeth. I can’t describe the pain.”

The bear – and I recommend stopping reading now if you’re halfway through dinner – ripped Joe’s skin to the back of his skull.

In the nick of time, a car arrived, the driver frantically honked the horn and the bear scarpered, presumably hugely annoyed all his efforts for breakfast had been in vain.

Joe needed 300 stitches, but survived.

When asked about the attack, Dave Garshelis, a Black Bear biologist, remarked: “Joe certainly would have been killed and consumed had the bear not been scared off by the vehicle”.

I think that’s called stating the blindingly obvious.

I read about the attack on Joe the day after I booked the holiday, and now I’m fretting about impending death on a Canadian hillside, and have spent the last week looking up tips about how to survive a bear attack, one of which is the gloriously unhelpful: “Avoid making any eye contact; by the same token never take your eyes off the bear in general”.

If I’m not on the flight home, you know what happened.

Why my mum got the bum’s rush

A small tip. If you use face wipes to remove make-up and clean yourself, make sure you use the right ones.

I speak on behalf of my mother, who the other day washed her face with Andrex Wet Wipes.

These are what you use after going to the toilet, a kind of bidet in a packet if you will. She keeps them next to her face cleansing wipes and mixed the two up.

Next thing I heard was a howling sound from the bathroom, a noise I’d not heard her make since my dad told her he’d accidentally taped over their wedding video with an episode of Grandstand.

I bounded up the stairs to find my mother stood in the bathroom shouting ‘my face’. Thankfully, despite a small rash which lasted the next 48 hours, it appears she’ll pull through.

l Comment of the night during BBC 5Live’s coverage of Manchester United’s clash with Bayern Munich came from Robbie Savage: “Marouane Fellaini ... it was like watching a fan who had won a competition to get on the pitch with the team.”

Harsh, but kind of fair.