When I say that the best road through anxiety and depression is to Carry on Laughing! I mean it quite literally! We all have a favourite crutch to support us through bleak times but this one comes with no side effects!
When black clouds start to gather, the more fragile mind may reach for any number of aids! Alcohol; anti-depressants, Kalms, relaxation tapes, self help books, Rescue Remedy, Yoga, the company of loved ones……. the list goes on.
I have – and still do – reach for all of these in my times of need. But I have another secret weapon in my emotional armoury – and it NEVER lets me down. My Carry On Box Set! If the worries of the world start to overwhelm me I simply open it out and make my selection.
Any one of them will do the trick but we all have our favourites and my top five have got to be Carry on at Your Convenience; Carry on Behind; Carry on Dick; Carry on Abroad; and Carry on Matron.
Its hard to put my finger on why Carry on Films are so good at bringing back some cheer but it’s probably a combination of things.
For one, the Carry On world is a simple, innocent and happy place to be. In general, nobody dies and nothing bad happens. You may get a shotgun fired at your backside but it’s only pellets and someone will tweezer them out; You may suffer a head injury but its only tomato sauce – you’ll be fine! And you may well take a syringe-ful of sedative that wasn’t meant for you – but you’ll wake up later!
It is a disturbing feature of modern life that the deepest parts of your body, mind and personal life can be made so public. And in the Carry On world, there is a good chance that your boobs or bum will pop out at some point or that your undies will be inadvertently displayed. But that’s it! The rest of your body and your business will stay private and you will not see yourself on youtube anytime soon! The Carry On world feels relatively safe!
Having said that, they do contain a lot of material that would be considered unacceptable today. And yet it still manages to feel OK! At the risk of offending some readers I have to say that there is something comforting about the lack of political correctness in Carry on Films because we can let our boundaries go for a moment. We are allowed to laugh even though the storylines are, by today’s standards, pretty SHOCKING!
Amongst the cast, there are those doctors who lech at their patients and others who sexually assault junior nurses. There are school bus drivers offering to go ‘all the way’ with teenage girls and there are old men trying to get it on with women who look young enough to be their granddaughters! And that’s just for starters.
It is a hot bed of stereotypes – from sexually repressed middle aged women to sexually frustrated middle aged men. There is the battle-axe mother figures, down-beaten housewives and hapless husbands. The portrayal of ‘non British’ people would barely be tolerated in today’s society. Putting boot polish on your face and grunting from a jungle backdrop would likely be met with a stony silence.
But these films are a product of their time and it feels OK to laugh at them because the characters are just like us – we don’t always say and do the right things but we mostly mean no harm.
The stars feel like real people; the sort of people you can imagine working with or living next door to. In fact, when I visit people in hospital I expect to see Hattie Jacques marching down the corridor in pursuit of Kenneth Williams. If I go camping I want to find Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw in the tent next door (they might even offer to ‘put it up’ for me!).
Yes – these are ordinary human beings in my eyes. It isn’t like the modern film world. There are few chiselled men or impossibly flawless women in Carry on Films and yet they have far more charm. Who can resist the puppy dog eyes of Jim Dale or a cheeky Jim Tanner. In my mind, the female characters do include some truly beautiful women. Too many to mention but there is a stunning Valerie Leon; An exotic Amanda Barrie; a cute Sherrie Hewson. And a giggly, jiggly Barbara Windsor is surely far more appealing than any supermodel.
Unlike other films, I never get fed up of the Carry On productions! Despite having the box set at my disposal, I still whoop with delight if I see a TV listing for Carry On Up The Khyber on a Sunday afternoon. I will watch it with the same glee that I watched it on all of the hundred previous occasions.
Carry On films are one of life’s constants. Part of their therapeutic benefit is that they have been popping up on TV for as long as I can remember. No matter how mad the world gets, they are a reassuring thread and you can always rely on them to give some relief. Even more reassuring is that I know they will last forever. My living will (which I must get round to writing sometime – but treat this as my last request in the meantime), will be that Carry on Films are left playing in front of me when I am on my death bed (and that the box set goes in the coffin with me).
So if anxiety and depression sometimes plague your day; treat yourself to the box set. If therapists tell you to picture ‘a safe place’ or ask you to create ‘a happy place’ in your mind then I can strongly recommend your choice of Carry On film. Take up your post in Carry on Doctor; Join a coach or camping trip; venture back in time. It’s hard to feel down when Kenneth Williams says he ‘wouldn’t fancy a poke with that’ or tells you that ‘it’s high time you got yours’.
Don’t Carry On Worrying – Just Carry On!