Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: Lost in Belfast, a truly Amazonian tale

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

More filming for Northern Ireland. I was intrigued by the spec for The Lost City of Z, which will feature Benedict Cumberbatch.

Belfast will play the part of early 20th century London at the start, before explorer Percy Fawcett sets out to find a lost Amazonian city.

Explorers: the very word conjures up another age. As does the name Percy Fawcett. His is a true story. A sometime spy, army officer and trained archaeologist, this quintessential English gentleman-adventurer disappeared on his quest, as did 100 people who followed in his footsteps.

Mysterious stuff. Director James Gray says the film will ask: "What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to be a civilised person? What is progress? How do we contemplate new and old ideas of humanity? That to me is what Z is about."

Hmm, that movie sure sounds like a tw o ice creams job.

Wednesday: Why this beach babe won't be itching to come out in a rashie

I regret to announce that I will not be wearing a rashie to the beach this summer. Indeed, I will not be wearing anything to the beach this summer. I should rephrase that. Let's start again. Were I to visit a beach this summer, the chances of me wearing a rashie are right slim.

You say: "What's a rashie, like?" That is a good question, well put. Strictly defined, a rashie is something about which the fashion world is getting its knickers in a twist. There's also a health angle, as there is with everything these days, whether it's breathing or sunshine or putting salt on your chips.

More prosaically defined, a rashie is a vest with sleeves – it says here – that covers the torso, yea, even unto the hips. If you're thinking this reminds you of the Edwardian era when men wore overcoats to the beach and women were ensconced in tents, then you would be bang on the money.

If you think rashies sound daft, you'll be flabbergasted to learn that they've been worn by leading trendsetters Madonnie, Nicole Kidman, that Mrs McCartney (wife of Paul) and, doubtless, David Beckham. So, people are now covering themselves up to go to the beach. I have a question. Isn't the point of going to the beach to sit in pleasant surroundings absorbing the sun on your bodily bits?

Ah, but the sun: it makes you look better as it kills you. So, you have to cover up. Ergo, if you're, er, going to the beach to chill, as it were, and you want to look hot, so to speak, come out in a rashie.

What a palaver. It's so difficult trying to figure out what's in and out with swimwear, not just at the beach, but at the public baths.

I attend the latter roughly once every five years and, every time, find fashions have changed.

Wee shorts, big shorts, tight Speedos, if that's the word, items with pink bows on them. All right, I admit the latter was a mistake caused by misreading an article in an old copy of Woman's Own at the dentist. But you get my driftwood: wear the wrong accoutrement and the world gives you a wide berth.

I think women are quite right to wear rashies. You don't go to the beach to get ogled. You go to the beach to get laughed at.

Friday: Happiness is out of this world

If you fancied a Jabba the Hutt figurine, Wilsons Auctions' sci-fi sale in Mallusk was the place to be. Here, a jacket worn by Star Trek's Scotty fetched £3,100. Waste of money? I've a bit of Superman's dad's shirt that I bought on eBay. The happiness it brings is priceless.

Saturday: Shopaholic who's fallen out of love

I wouldn't get excited about a John Lewis store coming to Belfast, if it ever happens.

I used to worship in John Lewis, yea, as unto a shrine but I never go near it because it's has become absurdly expensive. Now that it knows it can get rich custom, it pitches itself at that market. So if you want one of those absurd Barbour cloak-coats to try and look upper-class, then fill your green welly boots. John Lewis lost the plot ages ago and the backlash, while slow in coming, will happen eventually.

Sunday: Rich pickings as the twitter treasure hunt goes global

They say money doesn't grow on trees and, technically, they're correct. But it can occasionally be found among the bosky flora, particularly since the advent of a cooky-sounding craze.

It started, unusually, in America, where wealthy individuals got together and, using social media, indicated that, if folk searched a certain area, they'd find envelopes containing cash.

Clues to each drop's location are posted on the Hidden Cash Twitter account.

There's about £1,500 altogether, in 20 cash-containing envelopes, so no one's going to get rich. But, hey, every little helps.

Why would anyone do such a thing? Evidently, because they want people to get outdoors, come together and have their days brightened up.

This might cheer you: they've just had their first cash-hunt in London, at Kensington Park Gardens, and are looking for other possible locations around Britainshire.

If it comes to Belfast, remember it's the taking part that counts.

Monday: Spooked by night-shining clouds

I'm yer man for clouds. Call me controversial, but I think they're marvellous, and consider gazing up at them to be one of the most useful things a person can do with his life.

Of course, you can have too many and, as with most things, they're better on their own than in packs blotting out the sun.

But what about when they come out at night?

Maghera sky-watcher Martin McKenna took some fab pictures of noctilucent (night-shining) clouds lighting up a lonely farmhouse.

Martin said that "nobody really knows what they're about". Whoo-hoo: spooky clouds, that'll do me.

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