Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: The 'free from' recipe for success - it's expensive being one of the 'worried well'

By Robert McNeil

Avocado, black treacle, cider vinegar. Mix well in a blender, then drink at your leisure, perhaps adding a little brolly thing to your mug or cup for that special touch of sophistication.

I jest, of course, at least about the mixing. But I have in fact bought all of the above items in the past week. On health grounds.

To be honest, I don't even know what to do with the avocado. I suppose it would look quite nice stuck on top of a pie. But I fear it would spoil the taste of the chips.

Cider vinegar with honey and warm water I rather like, because I get a little hit off it as if it were an alcoholic drink. It's supposed to cure my newly aching joints, but then so would giving up my inappropriately vigorous (for a man of my age) exercise classes.

Carry on exercising, say some. Give it up, say others. I don't know what to do. "Have an avocado," advises someone else. Shove your avocado.

As usual, the good thing about being human is that you soon learn you're not alone. Everybody's at it, apart from the macho few saying "A fie upon all that!" (but you check back a couple of months later, and they're at it an' all). "Worried well" is one way of putting it, but then I was officially told this week that the knacker's yard beckoned. That's not how they put it, mind.

"Take some ibuprofen, you'll be fine," they said. But I'm not buying that.

I'm buying bleedin' avocados. And black treacle. I don't actually mind molasses (to use the American term), although – being male – I've managed to get more on the kitchen surfaces and floor than into my mouth so far.

According to a top report, by retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel, the "worried well" are also buying "free from" products by the barrowload.

This is because they fear they've a food-related condition. I draw the line at that sort of codswallop, even if it is supported by leading experts like Victoria Beckham and Miley Cyrus.

And I must admit it contributes to the health of the economy, with a market that has grown from £173 million in 2009 to £355m today.

I don't know if you've noticed, but it's an expensive business being alive. Meanwhile, there goes the merry ping of the microwave. That'll be my avocado ready.

Sunday: At the end of day, World Cup was all about crying game

Thank goodness the World Cup's over. Only joking. I love football more than life itself. I think it's quite good.

 Though this was a relatively decent tournament, the truth about the game is that, since the advent of possession football, most of it is a dreadful bore. Highlights are the best way to watch.

No team duller than the Dutch. Never known a team start in the opponents' box so often and finish passing back to their own goalie. That should be a new expression: as Dutch as a pass-back.

Other curiosities: Brazilian fans cheering hoofball; paunchy commentator Mark Lawrenson claiming every player brutally tackled was faking it; Argentina striker Higuain being a doppelganger for Danish detective Martin Rohde in The Bridge.

Germany's triumph was a victory for team over individual. Always a scary thought, as is its opposite.

Above all, the tournament showcased what football is all about: crying.

Monday: 'Super Black' the new black, and it'll be invisible no matter how they dress it up

Never one for learning my lesson, I blunder blithely once more into the world of science. But this story is a beezer even if, typically, it isn't easy to understand.

Scientists have created a new “super black” material so dark the human eye cannot understand what it's seeing.

With me so far? No, me neither. Consider this: it's almost like a black hole. If you made one of Chanel's little black dresses out of it, the wearer would look just like arms and legs floating around a dress-shaped hole.

Currently, though, research is more focused on military applications. Typical, huh?

Tuesday: Z cars... or x-plus cars?

After the PSNI ordered a fleet of small cars, a problem has arisen with getting constables into them.

In general, the formula for such a procedure is as follows: if Constable A is size X, then the car door should be size X-plus.

In most cases, this sizing can be taken for granted. However, where the constable is wearing body armour, his size becomes X-plus, equalling the size of the car door, leading to a problem that experts call “wedging”.

The constable, alerted to an emergency somewhere, attempts to gain ingress to his vehicle, but finds himself wedged in the car door.

If he attempts to force himself in further, his head may tip forward, with his face flattening into the seat and his legs kicking fruitlessly in the air.

Thankfully, PSNI leaders are aware of the problem. Even as we speak they are wondering what to do about it.

Friday: A high five

Out with love and the usual nonsense, finding a fiver in our pockets is the best feeling we ever have, according to crucial new findings.

The sun shining came second. Is this really what we're like?

Mind you, finding a fiver on a sunny day is probably as good as it gets.

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