Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: Meditation in Manaus gives Gaby the edge

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

Honestly, I was hoping to spare you too much World Cup, since I know footer isn't everyone's cup of Bovril. But bear with me because I intend talking about the World Cup while making no reference to the actual shenanigans on the pitch.

Instead, we'll discuss yoga, mumbling, cleanliness and cardigans. There. That pretty much encompasses everything that could possibly interest a fully paid up human being like yourself.

But yoga? Where does that come into it? Well, you'd be surprised how many football clubs teach it to their players.

TV sports presenters, too, are at it. Gabby Logan, a female easily able to hold her own in soccerology with the menfolk, revealed she does yoga before getting behind the mic.

Indeed, before the England v Italy game, she did two hours' worth. Not too busy then? She also said she washed and blow-dried her hair, even if such grooming was "futile in Manaus" because of the heat.

Futile in Manaus. Now there's a good title for a novel, possibly by Graham Greene.

Neville is Mumbling. There's another good novel title. Might have suited something by the late Sue Townsend.

Gabby's fellow commentator, Phil Neville, got it in the neck for his robotic delivery. Comedian Frankie Boyle said: "Phil Neville could make Zippity Doo Dah sound like a cancer diagnosis."

Thousands of other people joined in and, while the internet is often cruel, its merit is that one need not suffer alone. I thought it was just me who tried switching Phil off. And, in the past, it might have been left at that, or at best have come up with one's mates down the pub.

Now it's out there and something will have to be done. As a monotonous mumbler myself, I feel for Phil. But then again, knowing my limitations, I wouldn't have taken that job. (Reader's voice: "Knowing your limitations didn't stop you taking up journalism.")

Japanese fans took on the job of cleaning up the terraces after their game, which was very civic-minded and, back in the studios, another pundit – Thierry Henry – was praised for his natty cardigan.

Frenchman, of course. They can pull off things you or I would never get away with.

They have that je ne sais quoi. And, while I hate to sais it, that cardie would work well with a pair of sandals. But only on a Frenchman.

Wednesday: Held hostage by rhododendrons

To be trapped and lost among giant rhododendrons must have been scary. It happened to a Co Waterford couple – both experienced walkers – who had to be freed by a mountain rescue team after getting stuck amidst "impenetrable jungle" in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

Scientists in Britain say the rhododendron poses a massive ecological threat and must be eradicated en masse. Rhododendrons have beautiful flowers and, in isolation, look quite pretty.

But it's like everything else in the wicked world of nature. Things on their own are fine: mice, insects, deer, rabbits, humans. It's when they multiply that you get problems.

Friday: A jig a day keeps amnesia away

It's all singing and dancing now. We're forever told dancing is good for us. Grim news for most men.

Now we're informed that singing could stave off Alzheimer's. Musical memories are more likely to be stored.

I'll try to remember that, as I mumble Zippity Doo Dah in the shower.

Saturday: Thumbs up to council tour

It might sound ridiculous, but I commend this idea that elected representatives on Belfast's new super-council should take a bus tour of the city.

Several members have been ridiculed because they've never set foot in some parts of the city. But that's the same everywhere, and often for the same reasons.

Rich folk know nothing about poor parts of their own towns. Some will know Swiss ski slopes better.

Poor people never venture into posh suburbs. Why would they? Some will know the beaches of Majorca better than rich parts of their own town.

So a bus tour, can be instructive – and fun.

You get a bit of history, but also a bit of perspective by inspecting the whole joint, rather than just doing your usual route from point A to point Q.

The point is: if you're going to change the world, you first have to see it.

Sunday: Socks and sandals combo a sight

This column is almost strident in its outright opposition to sandals. That doesn't stop others campaigning – openly indeed– in their favour. There have been blatant attempts to normalise the aesthetically disturbing pairing of ankle socks with the distressing footwear.

Footballer Derek – Dennis? – Beckham was seen sporting the deadly combination. Now the fashion authorities tell us this summer's essential accoutrement are Birkenstock sandals – cork-soled atrocities once famously favoured by louche liberals back in the Sixties and Seventies. Amazon reports a 95% rise in sales online – doubtless because buyers are too ashamed to go into a shop and ask for them.

Belfast Telegraph


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