Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: Actor Jamie Dornan's the stalk of the town

Welcome to the sideways world f our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

I had to double-check that the story about Jamie Dornan briefly "stalking" a woman wasn't an April Fool.

Co Down man Jamie committed the "half-hearted" exercise to better understand his role as a serial killer in Belfast-made TV series The Fall.

In short, he followed a woman when she got off the London Tube. Acting is a serious business, but this is taking things too far.

When James Nesbitt got a role as the Dwarf in Peter Jackson's disrespectful Hobbit films, you didn't see him hobbling around Belfast all hunkered down with his buttocks scraping the ground.

If this is how Jamie goes about training for roles, then he ought to select less sinister films in future.

How about Bunman, about a top detective who solves crime with the aid of bakery products? Surely he could find it simple and even enjoyable to get into that roll?

Friday: Living for the moment

I had one of the happiest experiences of my life last week. It was late afternoon on the Scottish island of Skye and the sky without an "e" had turned mysteriously blue.

Unwilling to let the rare moment pass, I decided to sit outside with a dram. Though technically teetotal, I've been having trouble with the total bit of late. Well, the snow-capped mountains and whatnot seemed to demand it anyway.

For 10 minutes, I watched an otter cavorting on the rocks. Then I took a walk and lay down on some rocks, looking up at the heavens and listening to the peaceful sighing of the tide.

It was Scottish sunbathing: in an anorak and woolly hat. But I told myself: "It doesn't get any better than this. This is all you need." I thought of you in Belfast and knew you'd love it here too.

Like many people, I worry about my future. But, if you have the sea and the sky (and a dram), and the time to enjoy them, you can be entirely in the moment - the only place where you can experience happiness.

I mention all this in light of a report that found a good education won't make you happier.

I didn't have a great education myself. But I devoted a fair bit of time to getting educated in precisely the hope that it would make me happy. It didn't.

And my experience is borne out by a study of 17,000 people by Warwick University boffins, who found no link between mental wellbeing and academic achievement.

Another supposed purpose of getting an education is to become wealthy, in the hope that a plethora of dubloons will make you happy. Not so either, as is well known. According to another study, engineering is the most useful degree if you want to make serious money.

That lets me out. We'd a lot of engineers at our college and, occasionally, hostilities broke out between us. They thought our social science degrees were Mickey Mouse (a fair analysis, as it turned out). We thought their bowl-cut hairstyles and BHS anoraks deplorable (equally fair).

They'll be wealthier now than we are. But money isn't everything. Everything is in the sky and the sea (and a dram).

Saturday: Getting to bottom of it

No man, they say, is an island. But a woman's bottom can be.

The shock discovery was made on Twitter, the controversial communication system for those with important things to say.

Alliance MP Naomi Long has attracted their attention and, on a YouTube video, recalled some of the meaner tweets.

I must say she's taken it all in good spirit, including the gentleman who tweeted that her posterior was the size of "a small island".

Naomi was delighted with the compliment, "as I actually do have a large behind and so the fact that it was a small island was really good". Talk about looking on the bright side.

Another leading philosopher tweeted that Naomi was "fit", but then spoiled it by asking if that was weird.

Naomi's point is that "it doesn't matter what anyone says about you". Oh, all right, she asked for it: what a great gal she is!

Sunday: Family fortunes for 18th century

My researchers tell me the television comedy Poldark is set in the 18th century and features the usual bilge about true love.

However, research by a top woman suggests that, in the 18th century, marriages were more about getting one's sweaty mitts on somebody's groats. The whole business, according to Anne Laurence, a historian with the University of Open, was often bleakly pragmatic, with men in particular hunting brides for their fortunes.

Today, thankfully, it's a government law that prospective spouses must be head over heels in love before they can marry. A special amendment exempts celebrities from the requirement.

Monday: The cost of being human

Folk in Northern Ireland are forking out for private health. Pity but understandable.

The NHS is too sensible and equable a project for human nature. The law exists to curb human nature. Accordingly, people practising private health should be charged with something. A crime called "being human" ought to cover it.

Tuesday: No more horsing around

Horse mussel news, and the controversial marine mollusc has bit back at humanity by threatening to involve the European Union if the Northern Ireland Executive doesn't do more to protect it.

Horse mussels are a key ecological ingredient of Strangford Lough - the only place in the world where they form living reefs.

However, the reefs have been deteriorating due to fishing and other satanic activities.

Executive officials instituted some bans, but rather tardily. Now they've promised to pull the finger out and give the mussels a hand.

Good thing too. You don't want to be around a horse mussel when it gets angry.

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