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Newfangled diet is food for thought... even if it is unlikely to ever catch on

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson
True grace: Kerry Adamson during the funeral of late husband Dr Ian Adamson

By Lindy McDowell

Meanwhile, in other news this week ... Brexit has once again devoured almost all available headline allocation so we must be grateful to Sammy Wilson MP for taking time out of haggling over backstops and borders to focus on an issue closer to most people's hearts.

Out of the fire and into the frying pan, Sammy. Let's talk breakfast.

Or what will be left of it should the findings of a report published in influential medical journal The Lancet be acted upon.

The report was drawn up by 37 experts from 16 countries in a three-year project so we must assume they're taking this seriously.

As Sammy and others point out, though, it's hard to take it seriously.

Suggestions include brutally curtailing portion sizes of common foodstuffs (mostly meat and fish) in order to save the planet and to hopefully limit a number of life-threatening illnesses.

They're worried that by 2050 the food cupboards will be bare and the poor oul' planet knackered.

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But the big question is whether the new "joyless" diet plan will actually help you live longer, says Sammy, "or whether it removes all the joy from existence so it just feels much longer".

You'll certainly be spending a lot longer divvying up portions for your ravenous family.

The diet plan is generally veggie-based. Vegetables are better for us and for the planet. Soil erosion, apparently. Guidelines are that you stick to around a quarter of a rasher of bacon per serving. Three-quarters of a fish finger. Three-quarters of an egg. Half a spud. Steak only on your birthday.

I'm baffled by the spud bit.

Why have potatoes been singled out for censure in a diet which advocates more veg? Isn't the potato a vegetable, too? And a quarter of a rasher of bacon? Seriously. What would that look like by the time you'd fried it? Along with your three-quarters of an egg.

This isn't an Ulster Fry. It isn't even Six Counties...

And when you chop off three-quarters of a fish finger to eat, what do you do with the leftover quarter? Send it to landfill? Surely not.

Obviously such strictures governing the dinner plate could potentially lead to a national cacophony of stomach-rumbling but scientists have thought that one through and have suggested a handy filler. Beans.

Without being too specific and bearing in mind the old joke about what beanz really meanz, might this not lead to a bit of a global ... well ... excess gas problem?

There is a serious side to the new diet guidelines. (Okay, so the scientists themselves are serious about it but I think the views of most consumers are summed up by Christopher Snowden from the Institute for Economic Affairs who notes tartly: "They say they want to save the planet - but it's not clear which planet they are on.")

The serious side I'm referring to is the impact of all this on the local agriculture industry.

I've been a vegetarian for most of my life so have no problem with the concept of a plant-based diet. It's not joyless, Sammy. Especially when you're allowed more than half a potato per sitting.

But in the real world it's hard to imagine a culture change from the meat-based diet that humankind has consumed since time immemorial to the bean feast outlined above.

The scientists may have their work cut out.

But at least they've given us something a bit lighter to chew over this week. I think I can safely say we've all had it up to here with Brexit.

Royal film loose with facts

I'm looking forward to seeing the new movie about Mary, Queen of Scots. Starring the brilliant Saoirse Ronan, it features a meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie. Ms Ronan's Scottish accent is impeccable. So is it a bit pedantic to point out that actually Mary was reared in France and most likely spoke with a French accent? And that she never met her cousin Elizabeth face-to-face? But hey, that's Hollywood. Never let history get in the way of a good script...

Time for Prince Philip to turn in his keys

At 97, Prince Philip has had a bit of a prang while out driving. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured. The Duke and the other driver were both breathalysed. Tests on both parties were negative. But we now, inevitably, have a debate about elderly drivers. The question being, at which point do you pull the plug - or in this case, the ignition key? In fairness, age is not necessarily a factor in bad driving. We all make mistakes. But at 97? Time to take a backseat, Philip.

Ian’s funeral a model of unity

The warmth of the tributes right across the political spectrum paid to UUP politician, the late Dr Ian Adamson OBE, speaks volumes about that lovely man.

At his funeral this week, in the Presbyterian church in his native Conlig, his good friend Sir Van Morrison movingly sang his favourite song Into The Mystic.

Also in attendance was former Formula One star Eddie Irvine.

That couple of legends were just two among many in the eclectic mix of people who'd come to pay their respects to Ian, a former Lord Mayor of Belfast. Ian was an historian, a paediatrician and a gentleman - in every sense of that word.

Learned, brilliant, endlessly curious and always open to listen to others and hear their point of view, he made friends everywhere he went. He loved people and they loved him. And from all walks of life, they were there at his funeral to say goodbye to him.

As his close friend Wesley Hutchinson said at his funeral service: "Ian's work was based on the premise that the past is not a trap, that it should be used to open up opportunities for dialogue in and on the future."

Among mourners listening to those words was the President of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.

The image of Mr Higgins comforting Ian's widow Kerry is a touching one. It doesn't just speak volumes about what a great force for unity Ian himself was.

It also speaks volumes about the man Michael Higgins is.

By attending the funeral of his unionist friend, the poet President sent a powerful message about breaking down barriers and neighbourly accord at a time when dialogue between south and north on this island is not always entirely cordial.

It's a message about how people from different backgrounds right across this island can rise above tribal allegiance and discover and share and enjoy all those things we truly have in common.

Ian Adamson would have liked that.

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