The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - September 15, 2016

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“The best thing about this one,” said the salesman, while itching the tip of his nose with remarkably long fingernails, “is that it’s double doweled Sign of a good sofa – no nails, no glue, just damn good dowels.”

He stopped talking, clearly expecting a response.

The best I could manage was a kind of vague, ‘ah, I see’, when what I wanted to say was: “I’m sorry but I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about – and your nails need cutting.”

The reason I was engaged in this conversation is because Mrs Canavan woke me on Saturday with the words, “would you like to go sofa shopping darling?”, to which I replied “I’d rather be repeatedly stabbed in the eye with a pair of knitting needles”.

She complained that this was an unnecessarily curt response, and she probably had a point.

I wasn’t in the best of moods, having only managed about an hour’s sleep due to the fact that two teenagers had spent the entire night using the road outside our house as a testing ground for their motorbike. As they revved the engine for the umpteenth time shortly after 3am, I lost the plot and screamed out of the window “stop riding that bike or...” – they halted and stared at me, at which point I realised they were actually quite big chaps, and in good physical shape too – “...or I’ll, erm, I’ll, erm, look just stop will you,” which vicious threat prompted them to give me a friendly two-fingered wave and continue to rev their bike with even more vigour than before.

I was left with two options – to stay in the safety of my bedroom and attempt to sleep by burying my head under the pillow, or march outside and confront the young ruffians. Like any self-respecting man, I chose the former.

The point is I did not sleep well, and so the idea of shopping for a sofa was particularly unattractive.

But Mrs Canavan had made up her mind and so off we went, to some huge bland characterless store on an industrial estate.

It occurred to me en route that I had never shopped for a settee before. All our previous furniture has been hand-me-downs. Our wardrobe, for example, belonged to my Aunt Beryl, before her death in tragic circumstances in 2004. She had been decorating the back bedroom after a couple of bottles of wine when said wardrobe fell and squashed her. But after wiping the blood stains it was as good as new, and we were happy to have it.

Alas, no one we knew had recently died and had a sofa to offload so on this occasion inheriting one wasn’t an option.

The visit to the store started badly. We had barely stopped inside when a middle-aged woman with permed hair and bright red lipstick, pounced on us and asked if we needed help.

I’ve always had a problem with this.

I was looking at jumpers in River Island the other week, for instance, when a lad of about 21, with a ring through his nose and a tattoo of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier on his forearm, asked if I wanted any help. I thanked him for his concern, but pointed out I had been buying jumpers for the last 25 years and was pretty confident I could successfully manage it again this time without his assistance. He looked slightly panicked and backed away.

Anyway, after brushing off the over-eager settee saleswoman with the age-old but effective response, “no, we’re just looking thanks”, we proceeded to wander around the store.

We mostly just looked, occasionally sitting on a sofa to test it, but some customers went much further.

For example, as we passed what I can only describe as a horrific leather settee in black and white print – if purchased, it would be like having a giant static zebra in your lounge – a young man and his wife were trying it out. The man had both shoes off and was lying horizontally across the whole settee. “Yeah, comfy this one,” he said, then said to his partner, “Shaznay, come and have a go” – at which point she also kicked her shoes off and jumped on there with him. The two of them stretched out on top of each other in the middle of a shop on a settee that wasn’t theirs. If I was the manager, I’d have kicked them out.

We continued to bounce around the store for the best part of an hour, sat on around 75 settees which were either too bright, too hard, too comfy, too droopy, too high, too deep, too leathery, too rough, too slippy or too zebra-ry, then – with me loudly complaining that my feet were sore and the football was about to start – left empty-handed.

The downside is that Mrs Canavan wants to go to a different, even bigger store next weekend. I feel a sudden illness coming on.

The long kiss goodnight

I was waiting for a tram the other night, and was at the station along with a young man and woman.

I’m pretty sure they were in a relationship because their mouths seems to be surgically attached. In fact, they were locked together for so long I wondered whether they had been victims of a practical joke in which someone had applied industrial superglue to their lips.

Now I’m no prude, but I found this quite an uncomfortable situation.

I was sat on a bench, the couple were stood directly in front of me, about four feet away. I tried my best to look anywhere but at them, but it is quite difficult to do when two people are effectively making love with their clothes on right before your eyes.

Mercifully the tram finally arrived and, as it came to a stop and the doors opened, the couple had one last, gigantic, passionate kiss, before the girl stepped on to the tram.

Blimey Charlie, one can only wonder how they’ll say farewell should they ever part for an extended length of time.