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Rab's Week: Night on the town? Nightmare on town, more like


Shaftesbury Square - Belfast

Shaftesbury Square - Belfast

Shaftesbury Square - Belfast


Imagine going out on a Friday or Saturday night. You'd have to be nuts. Or young. In the good old days when illness, poor diet and the expectation of imminent death kept us contented, folk used to pop into their neighbourhood local for a genial pint of meths.

Now everyone heads up town. Where it's as if the Plague has coincided with World War Three.

Now, I do not wish to stop people enjoying themselves. Actually, that's a lie. I do. It only ever leads to trouble and, worse still, marriage.

But, accepting the hedonistic tendencies of the proletariat, and indeed all socio-economic classes, joy for many folk will ever remain unconfined. It's a shame, but there it is.

Where people are enjoying themselves a police presence is generally required, and it was hardly surprising to find that arrests were witnessed when an intrepid journalistic team from the Bel Tel ventured out one Friday to investigate the hellish socialising.

This was in the wake of a serious incident where more than 100 young people were treated for binge-drinking at an Odyssey Arena concert in Belfast. We've all been there.

Oh, mummy, I'm really looking forward to this gig. Just have a few drinks to put me in the mood.

Oops, I fell unconscious in my own vomit.

But you wouldn't do it again, would you? Well, many would, it seems.

It's kind of a herd instinct, but you also have to head back up town to find a partner, listen to music or, you know, just chill in the heat of a sweat-soaked nightclub.

Looking back I never enjoyed that sort of thing, even when young.

Indeed, lying scowling in the cradle I was given a Werther's Original instead of a dummy.

To someone like me joy is to be found in a well-peeled turnip or perhaps in a poem about flowers and little birdies. But to other people it resides primarily in a pool of vomit. Perhaps it's the pretty colours.

Perhaps it's just what people do. My observation of you Earthlings is that you adapt to anything. It's your great strength and also your weakness. Forced to live in sewers, you'd soon be wearing hats of poo.

But someone needs to take command of the situation up town. There were reports of ladies who'd lost their footwear. Shocking.


You can't beat good squelchlands. But environmentalists are worried about Ballynahone Bog near Maghera, which supports a variety of birds. For what might be built next to it? A chicken broiling factory.

I'm sure chicken broiling is a fine and noble art. But I suspect it's something best practised deep underground.


Camilla news: and you would think, on the face of it, that Mrs Parker Bowles of that ilk would have little in common with a peasant and humble hewer of words.

But one thing unites us. Neither of us can paint or draw. It's a terrible drawback.

Often I've yearned to express myself artistically. I'm sure it must be good for the soul. But I lack talent in that direction, as in many others.

Among her many misfortunes, the Duchess is married to yon Prince Charles, described in Her Majesty's Royal Mounted London Press this week as "a dab hand with watercolours and a sketchpad".

Which only makes it worse for the poor Duchess who gets so frustrated she tears up her artistic efforts while Prince Charles presumably looks on with an indulgent smirk.

Sources close to the couple claim that some days Camilla could happily kick him in the canvas. Couldn't we all?


I was horrified to read of a hospital patient in Northern Ireland who lay in a ward for two years more than necessary.

It's not the cost that makes me shudder but the thought of staying in hospital all that time. Recently I attended hospital in Scotland for a check-up and wrote a memo to self: "Stay out of these places."

Scotland's NHS is relatively OK and already operating independently of England's, hasn't been privatised to death like the latter's.

But, across Britainshire, these institutions are ghastly. Why's the decor all grey? It's horribly depressing. Why the aversion to bright, cheerful colours?

The food is comically inappropriate -- folk with stomach ulcers offered fry-ups -- and you can contract serious illness through lack of hygiene. You get woken up to be given a sleeping pill. And the industrial levels of racket are distressing. Hospitals? They'd make you ill, folks.


The condemnation of violence against women in TV crime dramas swells to a chorus, Dame Helen Mirren being the latest to criticise the trend.

I seem to remember feeling distinctly lonely -- and having one of those frequent "Does no one else ever notice anything?" moments -- when I spoke out against the horrific anti-female violence in the popular Dragon's Tattoo books by the late Stieg Larsson. Authors who write this stuff are deeply suspect. And I remain convinced that writing such as this is irresponsible.

The wicked Scandinavians are the worst offenders, but it's pathetic to see copycat horrors in recent British drama.

Give it a rest.


The evils of Facebook continue to unravel. The anti-social media site is now cited as a major cause of couple break-ups.

Apparently some Facers, if that's the term, are addicted to the beast, posting status updates relentlessly. Not sure how that works. Most Facebook addicts have the same status from birth to death: loser. But, for sure, a change in the status of their relationship can occur if they don't get off the smartphone and start performing their conjugal duties. New status: dumped.

Experts say such folk are "having an affair with technology". Wow, sounds painful.