The Thing Is With Steve Canavan - September 24, 2015

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My forthcoming wedding will – much to my mother’s horror – take place in a country pub rather than a church.

That’s if it goes ahead. Mrs Canavan and I haven’t spoken since Sunday evening when she took umbrage at my failure to purchase milk on my way home from five-a-side football, which meant she couldn’t have porridge the next morning. (“If I start flagging in my 10am meeting with Brian from accounts I’m holding you responsible,” she shouted, jabbing her finger angrily in my direction as she flew out of the house in a rage on Monday morning).

But if our nuptials do proceed, the reason it will be in a pub rather than a place of worship is because I’m a Catholic a few stages further on from lapsed and the last time Mrs Canavan went to church was when her car broke down outside one and she nipped in to ask if anyone had jump leads.

Fortunately, the priest did, though his congregation weren’t best pleased at having to wait for Communion while he tinkered with the starter motor on a Nissan Micra. Worse still, he got a shocking oil stain all over his best cassock.

Wherever you marry, though, I’ve discovered the trickiest part is selecting the readings.

Apparently, you need a minimum of two and then you choose a family member or friend to read them out.

Now Mrs Canavan and I have very different ideas about this. I want to do something daft, like tell a joke or get someone, in deadpan fashion, to recite the lyrics to, say, a Spice Girls song (‘Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want’).

But Mrs Canavan seems to be taking it rather more seriously and with the deadline for submitting our chosen readings fast approaching, has appeared in the lounge every evening this week with ‘a few more’ for me to consider.

“What do you think of this one,” she’ll say, suddenly appearing beside the settee as I’m trying to watch a fascinating feature on The One Show about the decline in bumblebee numbers in the Peak District (Matt Baker, solemnly – ‘It is a sad fact that 79 per cent of all adult bees in Derbyshire have been wiped out since 1998’ – before brightening and adding with a smile: ‘but local bee expert Danny Wingbottom is helping take the sting out of the problem’).

So Mrs Canavan stands there with reading in hand and ignoring the fact that I’ve rolled my eyes and turned the volume on the tele up, she’ll adopt a strange, solemn voice and begin: “Marriage is not a house or even a tent; It is before that, and colder; The edge of the forest, the edge, Of the desert; The unpainted stairs. At the back where we squat; Outside, eating popcorn; The edge of the receding glacier, Where painfully and with wonder; At having survived even; This far; We are learning to make fire.”

She pauses for a moment and says “well?’

‘Erm, I’m not sure,’ I’ll respond, ‘I think it depends on whether the bumblebee can adapt to the Peak District’s harsh moorland.’

It turns out this isn’t the answer she is looking for, a fact confirmed by the smack I receive across the forehead.

Undaunted, she’ll say ‘what about this one then’ and launch into an epic poem that I’m guessing is called Maybe and contains lines like “Maybe… we are supposed to meet the wrong people before meeting the right one so that, when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.”

My ears prick up when she gets to one stanza that starts “Maybe… you shouldn’t go for looks; they can deceive. Go for someone who makes you smile, because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright.”

So basically she’s saying I’m not easy on the eye but I can tell a decent gag. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

There have been many other suggestions, something from the novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (“Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion” … come again?) and even something from Winnie The Pooh (“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me ever, even when I’m 100”).

Losing the will to live I have told her she can choose whatever she likes.

The downside is that the readings at my wedding will be awful; the upside that, with Mrs Canavan satisfied with my answer and exiting the lounge, I got to find out, via a relieved Matt Baker, that the bumblebee population in Derbyshire is now on the increase.

I’ll be asking everyone questions on this later

I came across this wonderfully impenetrable piece of writing on the internet the other day.

Spotted by the Institute of Scientific and Techincal Communicators – an organisation that promotes technical communication – it is from an aircraft electronics manual and ticks just about every box in the ‘how not to write’ category.

Concentrate now, it goes…

“The internal guidance system uses deviations to generate corrective commands to fly the aircraft from a position where it is to a position where it isn’t. The aircraft arrives at the position where it wasn’t, thus, the position where it was is the position where it isn’t.

“In the event that the position where it is now is not the same as the position where it originally wasn’t, the system will acquire a variation (variations caused by external factors and discussion of these factors is beyond the scope of this simple explanation).”

Got it? Me too.

...still got the magic touch

I saw an old Morecambe and Wise routine during the week that made me smile.

Ernie comes on stage with some bongos.

Eric: What are they?

Ernie: They’re bongos.

Eric: Well you’d better give him them back then.