The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - September 8, 2016

The warty regicidal and genocidal dictator Oliver Cromwell lends his name to England's most popular baby name
The warty regicidal and genocidal dictator Oliver Cromwell lends his name to England's most popular baby name
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Apparently, according to official figures (which is something they always write after a statistic, presumably to make it sound more exciting), Oliver and Amelia are the most popular baby names for a third year running.

I find this odd because I don’t know any babies with those names. In fact the only Oliver’s I’ve heard of are Oliver Cromwell and Oliver Hardy, the former to do with the Roundheads, the other round-shaped. Oh, and there’s Jamie Oliver too but he doesn’t count on account of his names being the wrong way round.

I’ve never met an Amelia in my life. The only one I’m aware of is Miss Earhart, the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo but who then got carried away, attempted to circumnavigate the world, ran out of fuel over the Pacific and plummeted to her death … not exactly a cheery bedtime story when your daughter says ‘mummy, tell me about other Amelia’s in the world’.

I mention all this because I am – touch wood – to become a father.

Mrs Canavan doesn’t know yet. It’s the result of a passionate one-night stand with a work colleague, Margaret in accounts, which was great at the time but now a little problematic … I mean Margaret lives in Buxton so it’s a long way to visit.

I jest, of course.

Mrs C and I decided to have a bash, so to speak, at trying for a baby a few months back and it seems to have worked – well, either that or Mrs Canavan has suddenly put on an awful lot of weight around her midriff

The timing wasn’t great. We discovered she was expecting the day before we went on our honeymoon. In fact she actually double-checked at Manchester airport, weeing onto a stick in the toilet of a cafe and yelling ‘it’s positive’ as she ran back towards me, while waving said stick in the air, much to the displeasure of a middle-aged businessman sat opposite halfway through his poached eggs on toast.

It meant the honeymoon was a bit of a washout. For starters, she couldn’t drink alcohol, which is a blow because it’s generally only after a glass of wine that she stops nagging.

She also suffered with sickness and couldn’t so much as walk past a restaurant without running to the nearest privet hedge and depositing the contents of her stomach. So while other holidaymakers feasted on delicious looking local meats and fish, we were back at our apartment eating suspicious-looking ham sandwiches bought from the supermarket. It really was a trip to remember.

Her sickness has continued but while she - and many other women - claim being pregnant is tough, they rarely stop to ponder just how difficult it is for men as well. Last week I almost had to miss my five-a-side session because Mrs Canavan claimed she was feeling “absolutely dreadful” and asked if I’d stay in and rub her back. Naturally I refused point blank and instead rang her mother and asked if she’d come to sit with Mrs C while I played footie. But the point remains, I was momentarily put out and I didn’t like it.

She claims she cannot enter the kitchen without feeling queasy, which, rather handily for her, means that I have been doing all the washing up and cooking. Each night I bring her tea on a plate, while she sits, like Queen Victoria, as I place it on her lap. Last night she barked, ‘you’ve not brought the tomato sauce’ and it took all my self-restraint not to return with said sauce and squirt it all over her face.

We had to go for the three-month scan a few weeks back, which, I must say, is an underwhelming moment.

We were in there 15 minutes and received, in return, a blurred picture that looked like some sort of infra-red night-vision photo of a badger.

The nurse doing the ultrasound kept saying things like, ‘there’s its little hands’ and ‘ooo, look at its feet – they’re really wiggling aren’t they’. I squinted at the screen but couldn’t make out anything that resembled a human, never mind feet or hands.

Still given that this thing inside Mrs Canavan is, apparently, 12cm long, I suppose it’s rather incredible that they can see it all.

That said, I did get a bit miffed when I discovered it was a fiver if you wanted to take home a pic of the scan. ‘Not a chance’ I told Mrs Canavan, though I relented after she had punched me in the face and stolen my wallet.

‘Aw, isn’t it lovely’, she said later that evening as she looked at the fuzzy blurred image. I bit my tongue and made a mental note to transfer £5 from the joint account back into mine.

The baby’s due in March. Whether Mrs Canavan will be able to wash-up between now and then remains to be seen.

and bee numbers

When a couple officially starts trying for a baby, what was once a passionate and loving act becomes more akin to a scientific experiment.

Apparently there are times in the menstrual cycle (I’m not sure what this is – I think it’s some sort of new mountain bike) when it is better for women to conceive.

To this end Mrs Canavan – and I know from talking to others that she isn’t the only one – used a website which told her to the hour when she was most likely to get pregnant.

At first this was great. I had a thoroughly enjoyable if tiring couple of weeks around early May when we spent more time in the bedroom than we had in our previous 11 years together.

But then it became really was annoying. 
On one occasion I was three-quarters of the way through a really good documentary on BBC 2 about the declining bumblebee population in eastern Tasmania when Mrs Canavan appeared at the door and announced, solemnly, ‘now’.

There was absolutely no joy in the act that followed. I was angry that I would never know how close to extinction the Tasmanian bee is, while Mrs Canavan was going to be late for her pilates class.

But we went through the motions and, as it transpires, no matter how half-hearted it was, it does seem to have worked.

Now she’s expecting we’re not as active as we were, but on the upside I’m able to watch much more television.