Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: No lack of restraint on stage and television

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

I am fully clothed as I write. Your sense of disappointment, I have to say, is not palpable. That aside, my swathed state apparently puts me in a minority, at least if the world of showbiz is any guide.

We begin with yon Salome, an alleged strumpet from biblical times who appears in a show at Belfast's Grand Opera House this week minus her habiliments. It's only 10 seconds out of 95 minutes, but the fur is flying, as the theologically inclined affect fits of the vapours. For my part, while not a biblical scholar - though ask me anything about its more spiritually uplifting rival, The Lord Of The Rings - my understanding is that the ancient ratepayers of the Middle East (as distinct from Middle Earth) were always respectably clothed as they went about slaughtering infants.

A further page in the book of revelations was turned when people who watch television in the morning were shocked to see a scantily clad couple capering about on what can only be described as a bed. This was a Bondage For Beginners session aired ahead of Valentine's Day on allegedly air-headed programme This Morning, co-presented by Christine Bleakley, who hails from Co Down, a fact that once more highlights Northern Ireland's key role in corrupting the world. Astoundingly, this bondage bacchanalia went out at 10.30am, when decent people are still wandering about the streets in their pyjamas.

The Northern Ireland angle featured again, when the makers of This Morning, pursued by an angry mob waving Bibles, nooses and autograph books, blamed forthcoming 50 Shades Of Grey for the bondage inspiration. Grey is fronted by actor Jamie Dornan, who typically also comes from Co Down, seemingly the font of all the filth, and who this week spoke unashamedly about "BDSM". If you're as innocent as I am, and knowing most acronyms beginning with B in this country are "British" something, your best guess at BDSM would be something like the British Dance Suppression Movement.

However, the Financial Times reports that it stands for Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism and Masochism. I see. Indeed, I see more Ss and Ds than needed, strictly speaking.

Oh dear. I'm getting tied up in knots here. Time to add another layer of clothing, and to hope this keen interest in naked bodies is just a passing fad.

Friday: A mind may not fail thanks to ale

To drink or not to drink, that is a question. In particular, ought we to drink beer?

The question has been considered by philosophers through the ages. Philosophers, however, are useless.

It's scientists that are the boys and, in China, they've found that beer contains a chemical that could stave off dementia. Typically, the shock news has sent the all-party Campaign Against Joy into overdrive. They point out you'll get a beer belly and that other studies show it boosts the risk of dementia.

What to think? What to drink? Oh, have a pint. It'll take your mind off things.

Saturday: Hats off to Morrissey

Yay for Morrissey. I like a man who speaks his mind and, even more, a man who takes action.

Mr Morrissey, a veganist, has acted to ban the sale of meat repasts during his forthcoming gig at Belfast's Odyssey Arena. And why not?

It's only for one night. But folk have slaughtered Morrissey for his action, as if having a few hours free of meat is just too unbearable.

It's odd how human carnivores and veggies parallel their counterparts in the controversial animal world, where plant-eating beasts are strong and largely placid, while meat-eaters are wiry and vicious.

In online debates the meat-eaters are always aggressive and hostile, their words dripping with guilt.

In the Holy Bibble, Eve offered Adam a steak pie (sometimes mistranslated as an apple) in the the Garden of Eden.

Had Adam been more like Morrissey, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today.

Sunday: Sounds just like the jab

Most old folk in my street have had their hips replaced, and few speak highly of the process. Now a new jab promises to regenerate damaged tissue, thus avoiding surgery, the 19th century medical procedure that everyone deplores. Today, all the talk is of regeneration. It kind of grows on you.

Monday Ukelele... It's strum-thing else!

The world never ceases to shock and amaze. However, in a week of the usual turmoil, news that the ukelele is now the hip instrument of choice rocked me on my heels.

I cannot see me playing air ukelele, though I find the news curiously satisfying since the controversial instrument is given to a light-hearted jauntiness. It's unlikely to make headway in the world of death metal. The ukelele is most closely associated with George Formby (1904-61), who had a big hit with When I'm Cleaning Windows.

Experts say it's one of the few pop songs that feature tradesmen using ladders.

Tuesday: Jog on athletic types, your race's run

Jogging: one of many things I'd ban in the name of freedom. I don't mind people doing it in the privacy of their own home.

But I'm sick of hearing their feet flap up Gollum-like behind me as I try to enjoy a stroll. Green urban spaces are full of them, making the point of green urban spaces - respite from the rat-race - more or less redundant.

Anyway, the good news is that less jogging is healthier than more, according to top (always preferable to bottom) experts. Researchers at the Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, found lower mortality rates among light joggers compared to grim-faced enthusiasts overdoing it. The latter, indeed, were just as likely to die as sedentary non-joggers. Spot the moral there.

In conclusion, some brisk waddling up and down your own hallway may extend your life, without offending decent ratepayers trying to enjoy the air.

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