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Rab's Week: Lonely Brucie quicksteps into Strictly history

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

Published 23/04/2015

A laughing Bruce with Tess Daly on Strictly — but he admits he felt lonely on show
A laughing Bruce with Tess Daly on Strictly — but he admits he felt lonely on show

Nowhere more lonely than a dance floor, at least in my experience. But who'd have thought Sir Bruce Forsyth would feel the same?

We'd had Sir Bruce pegged as a prime plugger of the satanic gyrations when he presented women's cultural programme, Strictly Come Dancing.

But now the long-chinned knight says he left the show because he felt lonely.

Sir Bruce told a packed press conference at the United Nations: "The problem for me was that I didn't get to meet anyone in the show, nor really get to know anyone very well.

"And what I actually like is the interaction. It's what I do. I found Strictly very lonely."

But I haven't invited you to this lecture today to talk about Sir Bruce Forsyth, nor yet about dancing which, despite strenuous campaigning by this newspaper (all right, this column), remains legal at the time of going to press.

No, loneliness is the theme of today's mad party. For Sir Bruce's sad plight comes in the wake of shock reports that Londonderry is one of the loneliest places for adults in the UK.

Top research revealed that 72% of adults in Derry experienced loneliness, with 33% of these having had less interaction - that word again - with their fellows than they did five years ago.

The loneliest group is aged 18 to 24, which may be because they're spending more time living life vicariously or virtually on their computers.

Computers make us simultaneously more connected and more lonely. They offer electronic interaction, in most cases free of vocal-style speaking, which is a major cause most of the world's strife.

People say to me: "I haven't spoken to anyone for days."

And I say: "Go away. I'm busy."

But I have long periods like that too. I planned to cure it by going dancing in Derry, but I guess that's out now.

All I can suggest is that we can get out and mingle.

Get yourself down the mall. But don't talk to anyone, as you risk being arrested. Only interact. For interactions speak louder than words.

Sunday: All in a Blur over selfie generation

Damon Albarn, lead xylophone player with top pop sensation Blur, has decried today’s popsters for failing to challenge the establishment or discuss politics.

Scathingly, he ululates: “Young artists talk about themselves, not what’s happening out there.”

Pausing to wield a mallet, he goes on: “It’s the selfie generation. They’re talking platitudes.”

These are good points, well made. Oddly enough, I have quite a few Blur albums and have no idea where they stand politically.

It’s odd too that I still see Blur as young persons. But they have grown up and are now slagging off newer generations. So it goes.

Tuesday: Mind your own business

Mindfulness meditation therapy can help cure depression, according to a study published in Hello! magazine.

Not Hello! What’s that other one? The Lancet.

There’s nothing much to mindfulness. Just shut your eyes and watch your thoughts. Detach yourself from them.

Nice work if you get it. It affords greater awareness of the tide of rubbish that washes through your mind every day and which you think is your personality. You.

Well, this news just in: it ain’t. It’s all the things that have happened to you. Now it’s your turn to happen to them.

Have a shufti at the habits, prejudices and ruts your mind has accumulated. Marvel at how 90% of your thoughts were exactly the same as you had the day before.

And most of them were not worthy.

The mindful boggles. So here are today’s orders from Captain Rab: take command of your heads, brothers and sisters.

Wednesday: Patching up vanishing hedgerows

The first time I saw Northern Ireland’s countryside I was blown away by how beautiful it was. It reminded me of the Yorkshire Dales, and there was so much of it — not just an isolated pocket.

It’s sad, therefore, to read about field boundaries such as hedgerows and drystone walls being removed as farms expand.

Hedgerows in particular are valuable habitats for wildlife. But I’ve always been intrigued by the aesthetic hold a patchwork scene has on the human mind. Perhaps it’s conditioning — idyllic images from childhood books, the same way most of us like traditional houses and deplore modern architecture.

I’d have opposed the original enclosures of common land, and still believe it absurd that large tracts of countryside are “owned” by individuals.

But something about a pattern of hedgerows and dykes is pleasing to the eye.

It’s a classic case of beauty being a by-product of dubious function.

Friday: Shampoo’s mane attraction

Women worship horses. Now they’re nicking their shampoo.

Stars of stage and bottom Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian use a follicular lotion designed for the controversial quadrupeds.

Now normal women in Belfast are stampeding to buy Mane ‘n Tail. On my high horse here maybe, but I fear they’re making asses of themselves.

Saturday: Crying foul over gong show

Grim news as it’s announced Belfast is to play host to the Sports Personality of the Year awards in December.

As someone who approves of neither sport nor personality, the news strikes me as a double blow for the city.

There’s always trouble at the event. Last year, there were riots in many rural areas after Northern Irish golfist Rory McIlroy was snubbed in favour of Lewis Hamilton, a motorist famed for his rapidity.

This year, the Odyssey Arena could see the likes of Wayne Rooney, Rebecca Adlington and Andy Murray mingling openly with each other. It’s a recipe for disaster.

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