Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: Home comforts far preferable to horrors of gym

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

Ladies, do not be afraid. Be bold and uncaring, just like me (work with me on this). I speak of ladies, as in female-style women, because the controversial gender is increasingly the subject of scientific research. However, top political bodies have also been investigating the problem. A House of Commons committee has warned that women aren't exercising because they're afraid of being judged.

They don't want to be seen as sweaty or out of breath, like bald men, and increasingly are running in secret on treadmills in garden sheds because they're ashamed to exercise in public.

I cannot see the problem. No decent person would jog in public and, like swimming and cycling, it's something better practised in of one's own home.

On the other hand, one benefit of exercising socially is that you feel inclined to do a full hour - indeed, you have to if you're in a class. At home, by contrast, a persistent voice in your head says: "Come on, pack this nonsense in. Let's have a bun and watch Loose Women."

At the gym, you can also watch the peculiar exercising styles of other people, particularly the over-enthusiastic, who inevitably get things wrong. The cross-trainer, in particular, is excellent for seeing arms, shoulders, even heads in the wrong place. You want to tell them, but they'd probably slap you.

The point is, there are plenty people mucking up, not just you. You don't even have to exercise, with the attendant risk of sweat. You can just sit texting all the time, like the young, or looking at yourself in the mirror like the body-building men. But you're better than that - because you're normal.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, USA, examined women and decided an extra hour in bed lifts their mood and raises their libido.

This is a dangerous finding, with implications for productivity and the chastity of the nation's men.

The research is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which isn't available in my supermarket and sounds like it operates on the fringes of the law.

One day, society will get to the bottom of women - not what I wanted to say, but it's too late now. In the meantime, scientific experiments and political inquiries will continue until light is shed on this most peculiar of species.

Sunday: New Fifty Shades shocker

How shocking to see EL James, author of porn blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey, driving to John Lewis in a £79,000 Tesla Model S electric car.

I have absolutely nothing against electric cars. A good thing most probably.

But who the hell can afford the extravagance of shopping at John Lewis?

Monday: I’ve got that jungle fever

I can’t wait to see the new Disney film Cinderella. And, yes, this is getting embarrassing.

True story: in a tiny country shop on the Isle of Skye, the woman behind the counter said to a burly chap in muddy wellies: “I’m looking forward to going to Glasgow to see Olaf on ice.”

The chap said: “Eh?”

“Olaf. On ice.”

“Eh?”

I interjected: “What’s wrong with you, man? The lady is clearly referring to the touring show on ice of the excellent Disney film, Frozen.”

The shopkeeper and I then proceeded to discuss the film enthusiastically, while the crofter looked on, bewildered.

Now Cinderella, directed by Belfast-born Kenneth Branagh, is set to steal my heart. Disney has been with me my whole life, first entrancing me with The Jungle Book.

Back then, I was never convinced that I’d ever grow up. And I’m still not.

Tuesday: Just like Jemima, I've reached a partying of the ways with today's trendy new hairstyles

I have been experimenting with my hair. Fed up of having it sculpted and over-designed by aesthetically ambitious follicle-manglers, I’ve decided to put it in a flat, right parting, just like when I was boy.

In this, as so often, I find myself in tune with the zeitgeist, as various celebs such as Jemima Khan proclaim about their barnets: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Of course, most of them are women. Men today usually go for brutish buzz-cuts, which add to the general ugliness of modern life.

Hair is a curse. Bald people should count their blessings.

Friday: It’s time to brush up on dental hygiene

Mouth news, and a shock survey found more than 70% of children in Northern Ireland had rotten teeth.

Why so? Too many sweets?

Lack of brushing?

I must say, dentists have tried repeatedly to get me to floss. But I didn’t get where I am today by rubbing thread between my teeth.

Indeed, I’m far too busy to spend much time on the whole tooth business. But at least I’m pretty regular and my pegs are in okay condition. Recently, friends told me a story of the bad old days when it was common for people to have all their teeth out upon reaching middle age.

One entire family, young and old, had all their teeth removed by a dentist. It was a money-making scam: dentistry’s place in the supposedly free NHS having always been a grey area.

Keep your teeth white, kids. You never know when you’ll need them.

Saturday: Taxing factor for poor Cheryl

A political Vesuvius has erupted after controversial X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Etcetera threatened to start a new party.

The party’s basic principle is something to do with rich people not having to pay so much tax and other stuff that is yet to be decided.

Cheryl has always unthinkingly supported Labour, but now feels it has neglected its traditional role of protecting big earners.

According to unreliable

reports, Cheryl exploded that she might “make my own party”, adding that “stranger things have happened”.

No, they haven’t. Cheryl would always get my vote. But not when it comes to politics.

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