The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - December 11, 2014

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There was a nationwide initiative at the weekend called Football Remembers.

The idea was for professional and amateur clubs throughout the country to commemorate one of the most iconic moments in the Great War – when English and German soldiers laid down their guns and played football together at Christmas in 1914 (or, for the benefit of youngsters, the Sainsbury’s advert).

One hundred years on, all football teams, from the Premier League to lads playing Sunday morning footie at their local park, stood together for a team photo prior to kick-off - a nod to that wonderful moment a century before.

However, just like the First World War, this particular moment of footballing togetherness and friendship didn’t last long.

A mate of mine was watching a non-league game down south and was genuinely moved by the sight of the players lining up pre kick-off, smiling and with their arms draped around one another.

Alas, 30 seconds into the game, two players who had stood next to each on the photo, went in for a crunching tackle.

“They jumped to their feet and started squaring up to each other,” my friend reports.

The pair were given a stern ticking off by the rather bemused referee with less than a minute of the match gone ... a truce even shorter than the one in 1914.

I’m not meant to live alone, turn this house into a home

A story in the national press this week caught my eye. It involved a couple called Claire and David Burke, from Yorkshire, who have been together for 14 years, are married, and have a six-year-old son ... but live in separate houses. They say it is the secret to the perfect relationship.

“Have you seen this?” I said, grasping the paper and running into the lounge, where Mrs Canavan was watching Strictly Come Dancing while on the phone to a friend (“Pixie has to go – she made a total mess of the samba and have you seen her eye-liner?”)

Her reaction to the article was ‘how ridiculous’, at which point I made the wise decision not to share with her the fact that mine had been ‘what a splendid idea’.

So many relationships fail. In fact, the latest stats tell us that between 40 and 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce.

And it has to be down to the fact that, no matter how much you love someone, it can be blinking hard work living with another person.

I mean, take beds.

Who in their right mind would choose, in an ideal world, to sleep in a bed which has someone else in it?

Mrs Canavan, for instance, is a hugger, and likes to fall asleep while grasping on to me, like someone in rough seas clinging to a rock.

When her mouth lolls open and she begins to snore while dribbling slightly (I think it was this pose that first attracted me to her), I begin the delicate act of prising her off me, like removing chewing gum from a desk lid.

Once this is complete, I ease her on to the far side of the bed – I do this by gently shoving her with my feet; she often wonders of a morning how she gets so many bruises on her back – and, after this 45-minute process is complete, I can finally think about getting to sleep myself.

But the nightmare is not over, for every time she moves, or turns over, or makes a noise in her sleep, it wakes me up.

Then just as I’ve nodded back off, she’ll go to the toilet (about ten past four, you could set your watch by it).

I imagine I’m not the only one for whom night times are a misery, for unless it’s about the birds and the bees, sharing a bed with another human is no fun whatsoever.

And, of course, there are a million and one other annoying things about living with another human.

Mrs Canavan, for example, never puts the top back on anything (toothpaste, jam jars ... I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to shake a carton of juice in the morning and ended up being soaked in orange). She doesn’t put used pans in to the washing-up bowl to soak, or pick the crumbs out of a tub of butter when she’s made herself toast.

By the same token, I drive her mad by wearing shoes in the house, hanging my clothes over the banister instead of putting them in the wardrobe, and thumping my foot on the floor while playing my guitar – so it cuts both ways.

The point is that living apart would, as Mr and Mrs Burke from Yorkshire argue, may well lead to a much more harmonious relationship.

I mentioned this to Mrs Canavan, who gave me a withering look and replied “well, move out then”.

I know when I’m on dangerous territory, so I tiptoed out of the lounge and went to hang some more clothes on the banister.