The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - December 3, 2015

Great Britain's Andy Murray is mobbed by his team-mates after beating David Goffin to win the Davis Cup Final at the Flanders Expo Centre, Ghent. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 29, 2015. See PA story TENNIS Davis Cup. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial Use only, No commercial use without prior permission, Please contact PA Images for further info: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Great Britain's Andy Murray is mobbed by his team-mates after beating David Goffin to win the Davis Cup Final at the Flanders Expo Centre, Ghent. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 29, 2015. See PA story TENNIS Davis Cup. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial Use only, No commercial use without prior permission, Please contact PA Images for further info: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
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Well done to Andy Murray and the rest of Great Britain’s Davis Cup winning team.

Murray is growing on me. He’s clearly good at hitting a small ball across a net, and it’s difficult not to admire the way he stays so stubbornly miserable and cheesed-off about being a millionaire who spends his life travelling the world, staying in the best hotels and playing sport for a living.

In his 11 years as a professional, I’ve seen Murray smile only twice, and one of those was by accident.

What I liked most about the Davis Cup victory was the way that within 24 hours of victory, Murray laid into the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), an organisation that specialises in making vast sums of money each year from Wimbledon, while ensuring it unearths absolutely no new talented British tennis players.

Murray’s complaint was that the LTA – and I’m paraphrasing here – is absolutely useless.

Whether you agree with that or not is up to you, but what is great is to see a prominent British sportsman having an opinion and being prepared to voice it.

Too often, today’s sportsmen are boring, media-trained puppets, who never say anything worthwhile lest they upset someone.

At least Murray has a bit of backbone.

If he could just smile occasionally as well, he’ll have cracked it.

Did I like the masseuse? Well, we rubbed along...

I went for a massage the other day. It’s not the kind of thing I do on a regular basis. I imagine it’s not the kind of thing anyone does on a regular basis, well, not unless they’ve a huge amount of money, a lot of time on their hands, and a fetish for being vigorously rubbed by a total stranger.

A relative bought me it as a present, and so I drove to a fancy wooden hut in the depths of the Lancashire countryside and was met by a tall, exotic looking man with a name-badge that said Francois.

‘Bonjour,” he said in a thick Blackburn accent. “Is ze ‘ere for une massage cocker?”

After completing a form full of slightly odd questions – Do you suffer from any skin conditions? Do you bruise easily? Have you ever suffered an epileptic fit while driving a HGV? Do you pass wind after eating carrots? – I was ushered into a separate room where I was greeted by a woman wearing so much make-up I couldn’t see her face.

“I’m Chantelle,” she said, “and I’ll be looking after you. Now if you could strip down to your briefs and lie on the bed we’ll make a start.”

My god, what sort of place had I come to? And what, exactly, are briefs?

‘Do you mean my underpants?’ I hesitantly enquired.

She nodded. It was at that point I regretted wearing the grey Y-fronts purchased in Asda in late 2006.

What followed was very awkward. As a rule I don’t tend to undress in front of strangers. I don’t even undress in front of Mrs Canavan – I turn the light off and, to be sure, ask her to turn round and count to 50.

But, eventually, I got down to my smalls while Chantelle stared at my torso with a combination of admiration and lust (I may have imagined that bit) and then, gathering herself, asked me to lay face down on a table.

The next hour was very odd.

First Chantelle asked what music I would like for the session. “We’ve whale, dolphin or equine mammal”.

I wasn’t concentrating on what she was saying. I was too busy fiddling with my underpants to ensure I was covering all parts that necessitated being covered.

‘Erm, dolphin,’ I replied, because I’m not sure what noise a whale makes and I’ve no idea what an equine mammal is.

Dolphin, it turned out, is some bloke making odd sounds on a Casio keyboard.

“I’m going to start with the back, move down to the legs, then turn my attention to the chest, before finishing with the head,” said Chantelle, like a serial killer about to dissect a victim.

‘Let me know if I’m being too rough with you,’ she added, in a way that suggested she was going to hurl me around the room.

And so it went. She rubbed me all over with some slightly sickly smelling oil, and at one point spent a full 10 minutes digging her elbow into my shoulder, fascinated by the way my bones cracked and sent shooting pains throughout my entire body.

‘Bit tense there aren’t we?’ she said. I would have replied, but I was too busy biting the pillow to stop myself screaming in pain.

The whole thing lasted an hour and was, I concede, moderately relaxing, though I couldn’t help feeling slightly uncomfortable throughout; after all, it’s a bit odd to have a woman you’ve never met before fondling your nethers. The last time that happened was when I went on a Club 18-30 holiday to Ibiza in the late 1990s.

Whether I’ll go for another massage I don’t know, though one thing is certain – I’m going to buy a new pair of underpants, just in case.