Belfast Telegraph

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

By Robert McNeill

Tuesday: Curious case of newfangled light bulbs A dull move by EU luminaries

We need to talk about light bulbs. I'm serious. Were you, like me, bewildered – caught, I would go so far as to say, on the hop – when the light bulb section at your supermarket changed into an unfathomable place where nothing fitted, nothing made sense, everything looked odd and the prices were horrendous?

I reckon we all suffered this individually and thought it was just us.

As a newspaper columnist, I don't really keep up with current affairs – such a lot of nonsense – and just assumed some major announcement had passed me by.

Suffice to say that, without my knowing it, the bulbs had changed. You couldn't get a straightforward (and bright) 100W or 60W or 40W bulb any more.

Instead, there were massive, coiled efforts with different numbers on them and peculiar equations suggesting that, with stringent hygiene and deep concentration, you could get 20W out of them if you left them on for three days.

I bought a couple, for 10 times the normal price, and found they were so massive I couldn't get them into my light fittings. At one point, I considered moving house to accommodate them.

Transpires that the big change was caused by an EU directive. Now, I don't want to add to all that tabloid rubbish about directives on banana shapes and so forth. If the tabloids don't like the EU, then I do. As for that pillock Farage, don't get me started.

What started this bulb palaver was the admirable desire to save energy. The new ones are supposed to last longer, though they're so weak that you have to light a match to find them.

They're rotten. Now, top experts are warning that they could make you go blind and get skin cancer. I see. Dimly. True, I don't trust the source of this story – a London newspaper – in the slightest.

But they did find a couple of top professors who revealed they'd stocked up on the old bulbs before the new ones came in. There are also reports of the low-energy bulbs causing depression.

So, that went well, didn't it? I think someone needs to take command of the situation here. The introduction of these new bulbs has been farcical, leaving people like me slumped in pools of tears in the supermarket aisles.

Who's the Prime Minister of England? Get him to cast a little light upon the situation.


Wednesday: just face it, there's no cure for wrinkles

Hands up, I confess: I have purchased No 7 Protect & Perfect before.

But it wasn't for me. I was acting on the orders of my then partner, who was marooned on a windswept isle and wanted to secure some so she could get her skin as nice as mine.

I've read reports that this stuff works. But pretty much any lotion will do the job. It's just adding moisture to your skin.

I remember being unusually impressed by the late Queen Mother, not just for her drinking capacity, but for her admission that, to keep her skin young-ish, she just lathered Vaseline or WD40 onto her mug.

Yup, despite the claims of the Protect racket, there's only one anti-ageing formula that works: don't grow any older.


Friday: browbeaten to an early grave

Henpecked men are being hounded to death. Danish researchers report that stress caused by nagging can lead to heart disease and lower the body's immunity.

Applies to both sides, of course, but it's worse for men because they don't confide in anybody. And they get nagged more. And they're more sensitive.


Saturday: battle of  bulge has only one winner

Blubber news and, in a shock report, top experts revealed that Irish men and women would be the fattest in Europe in 15 years' time.

The experts were from yonder World Health Organisation and, in a desperate bid to fight the flab, they called for sugary drinks to be taxed and for fruit and vegetables to be subsidised.

None of which will work.

The only way is to appeal to people's sense of self-restraint. Good luck with that.

Researcher Dr Laura Webber said obesity prevailed in liberal market economies like the UK, Ireland and the US, "where the collective actions of big multi-national food companies to maximise profit encourages over-consumption".

It's not just that. It's that they make the worst stuff so damned tasty.

No one's going to overthrow liberal market societies any time soon. So might as well just up a trouser size and waddle forth to 2030.


Sunday: worlds collide at gates of fort Enya

I was reading about a crack den near Bono's demesne in south Dublin, when a casual line about Enya living in a castle a little further off nearly made me faint.

I exaggerate about the fainting, but not Enya's castle. When did the ethereal chanteuse acquire one of these? Did you all know about it?

As usual, I didn't get the memo. Mind you, it sounds just right for the enchanting lassie: a castellated mansion with manicured gardens and sylvan walks.

A few hundred yards away, the crack den boasts used needles, broken glass and beer cans. Fairy tale world, meet real world.


Monday: a good reason to use bad language

WTF. Swearing, it says here, can make us feel stronger. Psychologists have found that the occasional effing profanity helps us to manage our emotions.

And the more offensive the cuss the better.

Well, thank a word I can't think of right now for that.

For a start, it may even things up with my computer, which is slowly killing me. Nothing sends me into a rage more than this wonderful piece of junk.

I swear – so to speak – it has taken years off my life. And if swearing at it made me stronger, I'd look like Arnold Schwarzenegger by now.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph