The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - October 9, 2014

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The other day a friend of mine asked me to walk his dog because he had to work late, and being a kind of modern-day Mother Teresa with a spot of Princess Di thrown in, I agreed to do it for him.

He lives in an upmarket part of Lytham (is there any other kind?) so that’s where I headed, remembering to wipe my feet as I crossed the border from St Annes.

Going there always reminds me of the Les Dawson line, ‘Lytham is so posh, even the tide has to knock before it comes in’.

I do love the place – it looks great and has cracking pubs and shops – but it is sometimes hard for a working-class lad from Manchester like me to deal with.

For instance, the other day I had an afternoon drink in one of those very pleasant café-bar type places they have by the lorry-load, and, as you do while nursing a beer, spent an hour idly watching people come and go.

It was amazing how similar everyone looked – handsome, slicked-back hair, designer clothes, sunglasses wrapped around their faces even though it was overcast.

At one point, a big 4x4 vehicle pulled up outside the bar, and a young child, aged about seven and dressed in school uniform, jumped out. She said goodbye to the driver – who I presume was the nanny – and ran towards a couple sat at a nearby table who looked like they’d stepped out of the pages of Vogue. ‘Mummy, daddy’, she shouted.

They gave her a cuddle, then called the waiter over and the woman said: ‘One mojito, a margarita, and ... what do you want Claudia-Grace? Fresh apple juice? And can we have two bowls of olives, and some artisan bread with a selection of oils?’

Now when I was seven and I finished school it wasn’t like that. The family car wasn’t a new 4x4 but a vomit-coloured Morris Ital which broke down every third journey; tea wasn’t artisan bread but the previous night’s corned beef hash leftovers warmed up on the hob; and my mum and dad never hung out in wine bars. In fact, on the one occasion my father went in something other than what you’d call a traditional pub he walked straight back out in disgust upon discovering they didn’t do bitter on tap.

But back to the dog I mentioned at the start of this missive, for which, you may recall, I had ventured to Lytham to walk.

As directed by my friend, I took his pet pooch on a path that loops around the estate where he lives. Then an odd thing happened.

The dog had fallen some way behind, so I whistled and shouted its name in an attempt to get it to catch up.

At that moment, from behind a fence next to me, two dogs went berserk, growling and barking and howling. One of them seemed to be trying to headbutt its way through the fence in an attempt to reach my legs and remove them with its teeth.

I began to walk away when I heard a voice screaming ‘you, oi, you!’ and turned to see the head of a woman popping above the fence like a life-size Punch and Judy show.

“Thanks very much for that, I’d just got them settled,” she yelled, red-faced.

‘I’m sorry,’ I replied, ‘are you talking to me?’

“Of course I am,” she bawled. “Why are you whistling? It sets every dog off. Think next time” ... and with that she disappeared.

I stood there shocked, then got a little angry, and for a moment contemplated knocking on her door to point out that whistling in public is not – unless David Cameron and Nick Clegg have announced some new far-out policy I’m not aware of – illegal. But she’d gone, so instead I had to satisfy myself with waiting a couple of minutes until the dogs had calmed down and then whistling as loudly as I could and running away, leaving the outraged mutts going crazy again.

Childish, I admit, but hugely satisfying.

KP’s nuts if he thinks we care for his antics

In my experience, if you’re in a room with 10 people, at least seven of them will have no interest in cricket.

I understand that, because it must seem a daft sport to some.

When I went to Canada as a child and my dad and I played cricket on the street, all the locals stared at us in utter astonishment.

We tried to explain the rules, but they just couldn’t get their heads around the fact that the batsmen ran backwards and forwards, and not in a circle, like baseball.

Eventually they lost interest and wandered off muttering things along the lines of ‘the English are loonies’.

I mention cricket because of the Kevin Pietersen row that is being very publicly played out at the moment.

Pietersen played cricket for England, and was the best batsmen by quite some distance, but then got sacked because, essentially, no one liked him.

He’s now having his say, releasing a book and doing a series of interviews, claiming, among many things, that he was bullied in the dressing room.

It’s a serious claim which needs investigating. But I’m sure the pain he has endured in recent years will be eased by, given all this furore, gigantic sales of his book and a rather large cheque being deposited into his bank account.