The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - January 16, 2014

Blackpool Victoria Hospital hosted a day of health check drop-in clinics for men, with an assessment of lung capacity, alcohol consumption and sexual wellbeing.'Gazette feature writer Steve Canavan takes a lung capacity test.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'20-12-2013
Blackpool Victoria Hospital hosted a day of health check drop-in clinics for men, with an assessment of lung capacity, alcohol consumption and sexual wellbeing.'Gazette feature writer Steve Canavan takes a lung capacity test. PIC BY ROB LOCK'20-12-2013
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I went, in my role as a reporter on this paper, to have a health check at a men’s clinic the other day.

Basically the NHS in Blackpool is trying to encourage more blokes to visit their GP and have tests for various things, essentially because they’ve concluded – after years of painstaking research – that fellas aren’t interested in going to their docs, especially if Match of the Day is on at the time.

So the idea was I’d go along, get tested for a range of things (lung capacity, STD’s, blood pressure), write about the experience, and encourage other lads to do the same.

It went fine – the results are that I’m not about to pop my clogs anytime soon (much to the disappointment, I suspect, of many readers of this column) – though something slightly embarrassing happened.

As part of the test I had to give a urine sample and was told to use a toilet at the far end of a busy waiting room at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital.

What I forgot is that earlier that morning I’d had a Berocca tablet, which is a very powerful vitamin tablet.

This tablet gives you a bit of get up and go when you’re feeling tired and I’d taken one after having to rise from bed at four in the morning to wash the duvet cover (after the cat, in that thoughtful way of his, decided to empty the contents of his stomach all over it).

However, one of the side effects of a Berocca tablet is that it turns your urine a bright, vivid green.

Imagine my horror therefore when I started to pass water at the Vic and filled the test tube I was given with a glowing green liquid that looked like a cross between a sample from Sellafield and something left over from the set of a Ghostbusters movie.

Worse still I had to stride back along the corridor, through the crowded waiting room, holding this test-tube of lurid, luminous stuff.

I sheepishly handed it to the nurse, who did a double-take, then edged away as if the substance might explode at any moment.

‘Thank you Mr Canavan, we’ll send that away to be analysed,’ she said, putting on extra-thick protective gloves before picking the test-tube up and sliding it into an envelope marked ‘urgent’.

Next time I’m due a urine test, I must remember to drink only water beforehand.

*Speaking about health there was an amusing moment in The Gazette office last week when the lunch orders were being taken.

Someone asked for – and I didn’t even know you could get this before it was said – a teriyaki chicken, bacon, cheese and fried onion sandwich.

There was a collective gasp of shock, then the News Editor shouted ‘god almighty, I can almost hear your left ventricle slamming shut’.

Fortunately our colleague survived his butty and continues to be good health. For the time being.

Since when did we go soft for sports?

I’m getting a little annoyed about this outbreak of concern for sportsmen.

It looks like the 2022 World Cup is being moved to the winter because it’s going to be too hot to play in Qatar in the summer.

And over in Australia everyone at the tennis is fretting about the searing heat and the effect it is having on the players. What is going on? Have we all gone soft? I say this purely because I am bitter about an incident from my childhood which Sepp Blatter, nor anyone at FIFA for that matter, showed any concern about.

I played for a junior team in Bury called Marauders and one of our games was scheduled for December 23 against Boundary Juniors.

Now Boundary played on a pitch right next to Oldham Athletic’s ground, which is – and this detail is important to the story – the second highest football stadium in England and Wales at 526 feet above sea level (just behind West Brom at 552 feet; the lowest ground, incidentally, is Grimsby FC, at two foot above sea level).

The point is Oldham is flippin’ high up. It was about minus 10 and there was snow falling. There was an icicle hanging from the crossbar (I may have made up that detail but it sounds good), and yet a group of nine-year-old lads had to play 90 minutes of football.

By the hour mark, three of our team, including the goalkeeper, had gone off in tears because they were so cold. By about the 80th minute, we were losing 24-0 (they were top, we were bottom and hadn’t won a match all season) and had eight players on the pitch.

I distinctly remember my dad asking the referee if he could blow up early because half the lads were on the point of suffering Captain Scott-style frostbite (in fact my team-mate, a lad called Oates, said ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’)

The ref, in the manner of all refs, refused to end it early, muttering something about Rule 24b.42 from the FA Handbook.

It was the longest hour and a half of my life (and I’ve seen the Harry Hill movie) and it was four years before I regained full movement in my left hand.

So it’s all very well the sporting bodies showing concern for players. Just wish it had been the case when I was a kid.