Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: You've got to hand it to Eamonn, he's right

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

Top pre-noon broadcaster Eamonn Holmes has revealed a reluctance to hold hands with his wife in case the intimate act is captured by photographers.

Sofa-sitting legend Eamonn said he'd been "papped" holding hands before he was comfortable with the idea.

"Hand-holding still freaks me out," the Belfast person told a magazine that is actually called Fabulous.

I feel his pain. Holding hands feels a bit girl and boy. As a man, you're as well not bothering. It might be seen as undignified, even olde worlde.

It's like opening doors for women. What's the point?

Half the time, having waited for you to do the honours, they just stand there as if unable to figure out what to do next. It's really embarrassing when you have to shove them in.

That wouldn't look good caught on camera either. Best just give all that stuff a miss, old boy.

Tuesday: Breathe easy, bad sleepers

I'm lucky, me. Take today. Woke up and couldn't get back to sleep last night. So just slept in another hour this morning.

I cock a snook at your commutes and your bosses pointing irritably at the clock, if they still have such contraptions nowadays.

But, just for once, it'd be grand to get an uninterrupted eight hours of kip. Last time that happened, The Beatles were still playing live.

It's the same for many people. And we've all tried drinking chamomile tea or cocoa, having a bath, eating a mound of oven chips. Nothing works.

Well, now a top doc has come up with a new formula. Don't all yawn. This bloke was trained at yonder Harvard Yooni and could write an A to Z of Zs.

So, what is Dr Andrew Weill's technique? Well, put down your medicinal Malibu and prepare to give it a go. Ready? Right: exhale through your mooth while making a "whoosh" sound. Whoosh, madam. It's like shoosh but with a wh.

Now, close your mooth and inhale through your beak for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale again, going whoosh for eight seconds. Then repeat the exercise three times.

I'm far too busy for that sort of thing at the moment, but I'm sure many of you will be asleep already (reader's voice: "Yes, that's usually the situation at this point in the column.").

In a surprise development, Dr Weill calls his system the 4-7-8 technique. He's based it on the Indian yoga practice of pranayama and, since I already do that, I'm not holding out much hope.

The idea is that the extra oxygen calms the nerves but, generally speaking, when I wake up I'm not worried about anything.

I just wake up and spend the next couple of hours trying to convince myself that eating something large from the fridge might help.

Besides which, even in the privacy of my own bedroom, I consider going whoosh to be beneath my dignity.

Getting enough sleep is important. Yon Margaret Thatcher never got much and went on to wreck the country. Cameron hasn't been much better.

We can only hope that whoever comes into power lies in their bed at night going whoosh.

As for ordinary, decent ratepayers like ourselves, perhaps another wee Malibu might do the trick.

Wednesday: Iran bristles at spiky hair

Regular readers know this column likes nothing better than a good banning.

But the Iran Barbers Union goes too far. The IBU, run by the controversial country's loopy government, has banned "evil" spiky haircuts on the arguably unreasonable grounds that they encourage devil worship.

Plucking men's eyebrows has also been outlawed, a much more sensible measure that one hopes the incoming government of England and the Other Bits might adopt.

However, even I'm at a loss to see the connection between punk-inspired, jagged haircuts and veneration of yonder Satan. Only one solution: the Iran Barbers Union must be banned.

Friday: Lodge nice and new now, RiRi

When top diplomat Rihanna visited the New Lodge area of north Belfast to shoot a pop video, she dubbed it a "hopeless place".

Now an inspiring plan is under way to engage local residents in clearing away weeds and planting native wildflowers.

Just goes to show: hopelessness doesn't spring eternal.

Saturday: Tea not my bag anymore

I have betrayed the world of tea, rarely touching the stuff now, preferring its upstart rival, coffee.

It's the brewing bit that did for me. I'm far too busy to wait six minutes. I need results now.

It isn't just me. A top study by leading academics The Office Coffee Company shows that, instead of brewing tea in the workplace, employees are nipping out for a lattuccino.

That said, another study by beverage experts at Newcastle University found tea improves brain performance. Other studies show green and chamomile teas curing cancer.

Like many decent ratepayers, I have sheds full of packets of health and green teas. But they're all either unopened or have had one bag removed in three years. Tastes like drinking grass.

I might have a cup of proper tea right now, but purely for nostalgic reasons. It belongs, I'm afraid, in the past with pork scratchings and pipe-smoking.

Sunday: A weighty issue for poetic peer

A new biography claims top romantic poet George Byron was anorexic.

Antony Peattie, author of The Private Life of Lord Byron, says Geordie's eating disorder resulted from emotional scars inflicted by his mum.

In his teens, Byron shed four stones after eating one meal a day and exercising while wearing six overcoats.

He said he'd rather not exist than be a bloater and, indeed, died aged 36 after penning these elegiac lines:

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods/There is a rapture on the lonely shore/But none compares to Mr Gregg's/And a sausage roll or four."

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