Don’t Carry On Worrying – Just Carry On!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprout Curry! Another catastrophic failure in the Kate Ritchie kitchen!

Sprout Curry!

You may recall that I made a vague, shame faced reference to ‘sprout curry’ in one of my previous diary entries.  You may have read between the lines and picked up that it probably didn’t work out the way I hoped.  Well today I’m going to give you the horrible detail.  Why?  Because I promised to always be honest – and it may save your own sprout curry recipe one day.

What on earth made me decide to make Sprout Curry in the first place.  I didn’t even know that you could make such a thing – did you?  Well you can!  And it makes sense when you think about it! Lots of people like sprouts (including me) and lots of people like curry (including me) so why would there not be a recipe for the two combined?  And there is!   All I needed to do was type it into the search engine and the world of sprout curries opened before me.

First dilemma was which sprout curry to choose.  There are more than you might imagine but I’m a BBC girl through and through – whether its their World Service or the Shipping Forecast or their Foodie site I always think that the BBC is reliable.  It is supposed to be factual, neutral and, above all, an authority on its subject.  If the BBC says it is so – then it is so (mostly).  So when that bastion of the nation offered me a sprout curry, courtesy of Phil Vickery, I knew my search was over.

With an unfounded, airy confidence I started to build this tasty creation.

And, the first balls up was in not realising that Phil’s recipe was to “Serve 1”.

I did think that 100g of sprouts was going to need a fair bit of padding out in order to feed 4 people but then I realised that it was a single portion – and possibly with good reason, for who would wish to be in company after eating something as gassy and provocative as sprout curry.

Anyway – whilst cursing under my breath, I trudged back into town (thanks for that Phil) and picked up the remaining three quarters of the recipe.  This is Kate Ritchie’s version of Phil’s recipe but if you ever decide to make it yourself, make sure you stick to his experience – and not mine.

Ingredients – Serves ONE!  Multiply as Required

To Serve (or not).

Here goes!……..

  • Phil says “Put a dash of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the Brussels sprouts and blanched potatoes and cook for about four minutes until browned all over:

    Kate Ritchie says : “Pour far too much olive oil (the lid is broken) into a frying pan and add the Brussels sprouts and blanched potatoes and cook for about four minutes after which there will not be a hint of brown on either the sprouts or the potatoes.  Turn heat up to full and fry everything to death for about 25 minutes”.

  • Phil says “Add all the spices and cook for a further two minutes or so, until the spices give off a deep aroma”.

Kate Ritchie says “Add all the spices and cook for a further two minutes or so, until the spices give off a deep aroma (in an unpleasant ‘burny’ sort of way).

  • Phil says “Add the white wine, stock cube, orange juice, red wine vinegar and sesame seeds and cook for a couple more minutes. Stir to ensure the stock cube dissolves fully.

Cheers!

Kate Ritchie says “Add some prosecco (because we are not “white wine drinkers” in this house), stock cube, orange juice, red wine vinegar and forget the sesame seeds (because the ones you thought you had are actually 14 years old and who knows what now lies beneath their shell).  Cook for a couple more minutes.  Stir, in the hope that the stock cube will dissolve fully – except it won’t.  They never do.

  • Phil says “In a separate bowl, combine the coriander and orange”.

Kate Ritchie says “Do NOT combine coriander and orange in a bowl because nothing will complement this foul concoction.  Admit it – your ‘curry’ is nothing more than a weird tasting mushed potato slop – with a handful of black, rock hard sprouts.  Fight the rage which always follows a failed recipe.  Lean against the sink top and breathe deeply

  • Phil says “Pour the curry into a serving bowl and top with the mixed coriander and orange. Spoon over the yoghurt just before serving.

Kate Ritchie says “Stop fighting the rage.  Throw a lone hissy fit about how nothing EVER goes f*cking right in this kitchen. Pour the curry into the bin and eat the yoghurt on its own.  Text someone else from the household and suggest they pick up fish and chips on the way home”.

You may also wish to contact Phil Vickery and ask him how eight minutes could EVER be sufficient time to cook sprouts.   Yes, go on – add up the stages given in this recipe and it is no more than 8 minutes most of which is frying time.  This f*cking recipe was doomed from the start and I fell for it.

“Yeah – apparently she was going to tear me apart – then she realised that she hadn’t cut the sprouts in half! What a Fandango!

You may also wish to consider whether the absolute failure of the dish, including the unwillingness for the sprouts to cook is, in part because you did not cut the sprouts in half, as instructed by Phil.  If that is the case, probably not worth contacting him to complain.

Just move on……….  Next time will be better!

 

 

 

Celebrating Fathers Day – When Dementia Has Stolen Your Dad

Its Happy Fathers Day!  A day to celebrate these wonderful men who do their best to bring up the next generation.  And it doesn’t matter whether they are still here in this life – or if they have passed on.  Because being a Father is about family relationships; its about the influence that men have on their children and grandchildren – and that is something that endures long after a Father’s lifetime.

So while some of us are spending the day with our Dads, others might be raising a glass in his memory.  They both count.

It sounds harsh – but I will be doing both.  Because my Dad is a bit in between.  He is ‘here’ but he isn’t.  He is still my Dad – but not as I remember him.

My Dad has been stolen by Dementia.  And he is not alone.  In the UK there are probably over 300,000 men who are suffering with this heart-breaking condition. They may not recognise their own children on Fathers Day; they may need us to put the home made cake into their mouth;  to hold a straw for them to wash down the wee whisky toast.

It would be easy to get depressed – and I often do get anxious about seeing my Dad disappear – but there is another side to it all.  A surprisingly positive slant which, for me, means that Fathers Day is probably more meaningful than it has ever been!  And here it is.

My dad was a man of his time.  By that I mean that he raised his daughters the same way a labrador might raise its pups.  In other words his priorities were based on making sure that we were warm, fed and out of harms way.  All the other crazy stuff that comes with bringing up a family was firmly left to Mum!

Warm? Fed? Safe? Job Done!

The result of this traditional upbringing was that I was always much closer to my Mum.  I loved my Dad but we had little in common and we did not seek each other’s company in any real sense.   I sometimes felt a bit sad and guilty that we weren’t closer but it wasn’t really an issue – that’s just the way it was.

Our relationship changed dramatically when Dad developed dementia.  I always thought that this condition brought about a slow decline but, for Dad, it came on very suddenly – literally overnight.

When I saw him on the Monday he was in Marks and Spencer, buying something for his dinner and chatting to the checkout girl about what he had been up to.

When I saw him on the Tuesday he was secured to a hospital bed, trying to ‘catch a rabbit’ and rambling the most bizarre nonsense.  I was beyond shocked.  There was a moment of relief when he responded positively about whether he wanted a sandwich – but it quickly passed when I watched him trying to eat it through the plastic casing.

Two years later, I still remember that Monday as clearly as the Tuesday.  On Monday he was his normal self; on Tuesday he wasn’t.  And he was never the same again.

After three weeks he had improved enough to be discharged from hospital but he was no longer capable of independent living.  We refused a care home place and opted for a care package to be put into place in his sheltered accommodation.  That required me to become part of his daily routine.  The very thought of it filled me with dread.  I didn’t know how on earth I could fit this in to my already manic days – and I didn’t know how to be the daughter that my Dad now needed.

OK Dad – lets do this!!

But life is full of surprises and, since then, Dad and I have never been closer.  Its not just the daily company and familiarity that does it – its what we do with our time together.  We get out and about and try to keep things normal.  We look at old papers and pictures.  He can’t remember what he had for his lunch but he knows who everyone is in a photograph from 1953.  And now I know them too.

His inhibitions about what to talk about are lessened so when we unearth some old love letters I realise that my Dad had quite a few girlfriends before meeting my Mum.  I never knew!  There’s lots of things I never knew about my Dad – until now!

And a lot of my emotional boundaries have gone too.

I always said that I would not be able to deal with any of Dad’s ‘toilet’ accidents but what do you do when it becomes apparent that there has indeed been an ‘incident’.  Simple! You get him in the shower and scrub him down before putting all his clothes in the laundry.

I always said that I did not ever want to see any of my Dad’s ‘bits’ but what do you do when you find him buck naked in the hallway at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon?  Simple! You get him dressed.  You let him lean on your shoulder while you get his pants over his feet and you try not to think about the fact that his willie is only inches away.

And what about all the animals and people that Dad thinks are in his flat.  Do you deny that they are there? You may not be able to see the tramp on his sofa, the fish on the floor or the women in his bed (he wishes!).  But he can.  There’s babies in the cutlery drawer, a horse in the bathroom and his dead Mother in the porch.

Unless they are troubling him (in which case I gently persuade Dad that they have left), I just see them too.  I see the world from where he is; I sit with him amidst all the crazy things that seem so real to him.  And he likes that!

“There’s three women in my bed!!”

When your Dad can’t do his own shopping you do it for him. When his dementia robs him of his mobility you get him into a wheelchair and keep up the routine.  When he tries to get ready for his work you have a wee joke with him about how he retired 15 years ago.

And when he cries in front of you for the first time ever – you cry too.  Because, at that moment, you know he’s not confused; it’s worse than that.  He’s having a moment of realisation; he knows that something is horribly wrong with his world.   And he is terrified; he needs you to stay close to him and be in this strange world with him.  He needs you to comfort him and and make him smile again.

My Dad’s dementia has been as much of a journey for me as it has for him.  And it has made me a better person.  I have found a level of patience, tolerance and optimism that I never knew I had.  I have had to slow down to my Dad’s speed but, instead of making me stressed, it has actually made me calmer.  I hope I have always been a kind person but caring for Dad has filled me with compassion and the overspill goes out to everyone in my life.

Dad has now gone into care but this has not lessened the time or love I give him.  Today, my Sister will come over from her home two hours away.  We will bundle Dad into his wheelchair and rattle him over a mile of potholed pavements and into the town.  We will sit in the centre and have an ice cream.  We will watch the world go by and, yet again, I will feel grateful that I  have this incredible, albeit belated closeness with my Dad.

You may think that Dementia has stolen your Dad – but has it really?  Maybe it’s given him back to you.

Happy Fathers Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Ritchie ‘Ecstatic’ over Sugar Free Chocolate Recipe

Sugar Free (ish) Chocolates
 
Well when I stumbled upon a recipe for sugar free chocolate I naturally thought “what’s the catch?” And the catch is that its all fat and NO (see notes) sugar – but so what? If you’re trying to seek emotional stability and avoid the rollercoaster sugar rush then what’s 150g of fat on your arse?
 
Oh yes – and it uses ‘stevia’ which is a sugar replacement so I need to tell you a bit more about this.  
Firstly, I do NOT approve of so called ‘sugar free’ recipes which simply avoid refined sugars.  In my mind, ‘sugar free’ means ‘sugar free’ – in ALL of its forms!!  If you’ve stopped shovelling Silver Spoon into your coffee – but you are pouring honey onto your toast then ‘sugar free’ you ain’t!
This recipe uses stevia, which is indeed a form of sugar but apparently this stuff does not whoosh into your blood stream the way other sugars do.  And it is the sugar rush we are trying to avoid!  Anyway lets get onto the bloody recipe – so easy and quick you will be AMAZED!!

  • Place 75g of butter, 75g of coconut oil and a small teaspoon of stevia into a pot. Allow to melt into liquid.
  • Place two tablespoons of cacao powder (not cocoa powder as this is an entirely different product) into a glass bowl and stir some of the melted liquid in. This should form a paste. Then pour in the rest of the liquid and stir well until nice and smooth.
  • Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of desiccated coconut into the bottom of some ice cube trays or mini cake cups and then pour the liquid into each one.  If you want a bit of zing you can add grated lime rind or other ingredient of choice
  • Place in fridge and allow to set.
Important notes!
 
  • You do not need to leave it that long to set!! None of this ‘allow to chill overnight’ malarkey – you don’t even need a few hours! I was wolfing them down after 45 mins! But I would say they are best to chill for a bit longer if you can manage!
  • If you like to nibble then be wary that the chilled nature (and the oil content) of these little beauties mean they do not fare well in warm fingers. You will quickly get into a terrible mess with them so either put the whole thing in your mouth or have kitchen roll handy!
  • And don’t forget to let me know how you get on!

Welcome to my mad world!

Delighted to have you here – I hope you’ll get something from your visit!  It’s all about laughing in the face of fear because what else can you do?

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