Belfast Telegraph

George Clooney's reign as bachelor number one ends

Rab's Week: - Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Staff Reporter

So, there goes George, great chieftain of the Clooney clan. The actor has wedded, and we must hope sprogs don't appear or he'll never see his mates again.

I'm not so cynical as to approve the dated adage "If you would be happy for a week take a wife". Indeed, I wish George and his missus, Amal Alamuddin, many years of wedded bliss.

Amal is a top human rights lawyers so I can't see George winning many arguments.

Unarguably, he shall be missed as an inspirational leader of men, though. The silver fox gave hope to those of us similarly stricken in years, even where we are grey, frightful-looking, and not particularly vulpine.

As a newly married man, he runs the risk of putting on weight and become overly comfortable. However, as his wife looks a stranger to the oven chip, he should be OK. If we ever see him again.

Sunday: Bunnies get bugged if left on own

The British Veterinary Association has criticised the practice of keeping one lone rabbit as a pet.

Kept away from their own kind, the beasties experience "frustration" and "fear". No point in getting them a guinea pig for company as they could attack it.

Imagine being savaged by a rabbit. That puts you pretty low down nature's pecking order.

True, bunnies can't fetch sticks or beg. But that's not in their job description. Last month we learned that cats suffer stress because owners expect them to behave like dogs.

Ruddy dogs: they set such a high standard for endearing or comical behaviour.

Monday: Phone boffins bring home the bacon

Virtual reality news brought to you by the miracle of print: top innovators have created an iPhone-connecting device that emits the smell of bacon.

Adrian Cheok, professor of pervasive computing – eh? – at City University London designed the gadget, which also reproduces the sound of frying.

We're told it's the latest exciting development in sensory technology, which will make the virtual world almost as physical as reality.

Problem: seduced by the smell and sound you still have to eat the bacon buttie in reality. Ultimately, it seems cruel to taunt people like this. And I say that as a vegetarian.

Tuesday: The Sixties were far out, man!

It's no surprise, surely, that the 1960s has topped a poll to decide the most defining decade of the 20th century. The study of 2,000 people was commissioned to mark the launch of The Sixties, a new TV show on the Yesterday Channel. The 1960s won every category in the poll, from music and fashion to, more philosophically, optimism.

A third of respondents even said that, despite technological advances, people had a better standard of living than today. That's looking at matters with psychedelic specs, but it illustrates the idealisation of the golden decade.

It's even adored by people who weren't around at the time. It's odd how the decade seemed to stop emotionally as well as chronologically right at the end of 1969, what with the fatal stabbing at the Altamont festival, the outbreak of various troubles all over the place, and the drifting of the conscientious from pleasant hippy-dippy daftness into Maoist militancy and the like.

I suspect, too, that for many people over 40 and living outside swinging London, it wasn't all that glorious. But a tectonic shift towards goodness was definitely under way.

To be a child back then was magical. It was a time of colour, hope and love. It was a period of growth rather than repression. Nearly everyone sings the praises of the Sixties, and those who dislike it tend to be evil.

Often, such people idealise the 1950s, and I have some sympathy with that even though, on the face of things, it seems so different, a period of conformity and grey gloom.

But we're all a bit yin and yang. If we accepted this, rather than defining ourselves against the other, the world might be a better place.

Thus the order of the 1950s has its own appeal. Because free expression is good doesn't make order bad. You need room for both in your life.

There's a sense indeed in which the 1960s couldn't have happened without the 1950s laying the groundwork of security, free education and welfare.

In The Guardian this week, acclaimed literary editor Diana Athill, now 96, wrote: "It astounds me now when I hear or read people describing the 1950s as dreary, because to me they were wonderful."

She says she'd no reason to be anything other than happy. Moral of the story? It's your personality that defines your decade as much as your decade that defines your personality.

Wednesday: Bird-brained CGI

Computer generated images (CGI) have been a marvellous enhancement to films, creating fabby-doo special effects.

But watching a sci-fi show last night, I couldn't help wondering why all directors seem to think every CGI panorama is enhanced by having a really crappy looking flight of birds cross the sky. Weird.

Friday: So sad Cookstown has lost its sizzle

I was sorry to read that there is angst in Cookstown. The shock news was revealed in an announcement by the Office for National Statistics which, in a faintly sinister way, is measuring everyone's mood.

While the good folk of Cookstown were generally anxious, just nine miles away the merry folk of Dungannon were deemed scientifically to be the happiest in the UK.

How can this be? Further investigation found that folk in Cookstown found the ascription cooky and cocked a snook at the idea that they were anxious.

In Dungannon, meanwhile, the lieges backed the findings enthusiastically, nowhere more so than at the Happy Feet Foot Clinic, which is kept busy with all the dancing and cartwheel-turning at which the populace is delighted to indulge.

Statistically, I'm not sure that one study is enough to wreathe Cookstown in gloom while bathing Dungannon in light.

But watch this incalculable space.

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