The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - December 8, 2016

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I’ve never been very good at dancing and so as a result rarely attempt it.

I’m the chap at a family wedding who, when everyone else is on the dancefloor having a wonderful time waving their arms to YMCA, sits in the corner looking thoroughly miserable.

On the rare occasions I do dance - these occasions, incidentally, coincide with nights when I have consumed several pints of strong ale - it is, I’ve been told, an odd sight.

I don’t move my legs and instead kind of flail my arms about in a wild fashion, like a man who has fallen into a rough sea and is desperately trying to attract the attention of a passerby.

I mention dancing because it is what I found myself doing on Saturday night.

Five university friends from Leeds invited me on their annual get-together and Mrs Canavan graciously gave me permission to attend if in return I agreed to buy her the leather purse she wants for Christmas (an item I’d previously refused to get her because it cost £14.99. For a purse. Scandalous).

This night in Leeds was a rare treat for me.

When I was in my 20s my social life was terrific. I’d be out four or five nights a week. In my 30s it was down to two but still not bad. Now, at the age of 40, my social life consists of the annual Badminton Club Christmas dinner (last year we played a game called Pass The Shuttlecock - enough said).

It was lovely to meet up with my uni friends (it always cheers me that four of the five are bald and the other totally grey) but they are very different to me. Whereas my ideal night is to have two pints of fairly weak bitter and talk about intellectual things, like politics, poetry, and whether Scarlett deserved to win I’m A Celebrity, their idea of a good evening out is to get blind drunk as quickly as possible.

This isn’t good for me. I am small and weedy, the kind of person who needs a damp cloth to unscrew the top off a new bottle of tomato ketchup, and I can’t hold my drink as well as others.

It was, therefore, rather alarming when, the chap buying the very first round at 8pm arrived back from the bar with not just a pint for each of us but a shot of tequila too.

Tequila and I have history. I’d drunk it once before, on my 21st birthday, and after draining the contents of my glass, set off to use the toilet, tottered wildly for a few yards, then collapsed on the floor.

I turned around to see who had pushed me but saw no one nearby. More puzzling still, when I attempted to stand back up, I discovered my legs no longer worked. I spent several moments pawing at the floor like a boxer knocked senseless by an uppercut, the only differences being that I wasn’t wearing a gumshield and didn’t have a trainer screaming at me to get up.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience; I had to be carried home by several people and ended up celebrating my 21st by sporadically vomiting into a pot placed beside my bed for the remainder of the night. Ah, those were the days...

In Saturday in Leeds - and despite the fact I am 40-and-a-half years old and therefore old and wise enough not to bow to peer pressure and to instead say ‘chaps, I’d rather have a small glass of dandelion and burdock if it’s Ok with you?’ - I drank the tequila.

I also drank throughout the course of the evening several other concoctions, all highly alcoholic and all things that haven’t passed my lips in about 20 years.

Because of this, I may, I fear, have become slightly tipsy, a fact I realised when, later in the evening, it took me 12 full minutes to tie my shoelace.

We ended up in a Spanish-themed pub that looked exactly like an English pub, other than it had a sign on the gents saying Hombres.

I danced, ate a McDonald’s (where they were serving breakfast - a surefire sign we had stayed out too late), and got to bed sometime after 6am feeling like a cross between George Best and Oliver Reed.

When I woke a few hours later (thanks to a hotel cleaner pounding at my door), I can say with complete honesty that I have never before felt so unwell. My head, for instance, was throbbing so hard that I thought an elephant had crept into the room and sat on it.

I was so ill that Mrs Canavan - the heavily pregnant Mrs Canavan - had to catch two trains from Blackpool to Leeds to drive me home. If I described the atmosphere in the car on the way back as frosty, I’d be being generous.

It will be a while before I venture out again.

Well done, the lights look very snazzy!

A belated congratulations to all those involved with the St Annes lights switch on.

The lights are great this year and it’s lovely to see the place where I reside looking so nice, though they’ve certainly come on a bundle since I first moved to the area many years ago.

I remember attending the lights switch on a good decade or so ago. Well, I say attending, I happened to be walking past at the time and saw an over-excited DJ bouncing around on the back of a trailer.

“Right, St Annesssss,” he screamed to a crowd of about 12 people, over the top of some thumping dance music. “Let’s get ready to do this.”

Then he started a countdown. “Ten, nine, eight” (I won’t do the full thing because I’m sure you know how it goes) - before getting to one and bellowing “ST ANNES WE HAVE SWITCH ON!”

At that moment I remember looking around and seeing, somewhere about 300 yards up the street, two small lightbulbs flicker on.

One bloke said ‘is that it?’, while a nearby child began to cry.

This year’s lights are very snazzy indeed – well done to those involved.