The Best Cures For Sickness

The Arts

A few years ago I was very ill indeed and spent a lot of time in hospitals, so I always kept a book with me for those ‘surprise’ waiting times when you think you’re about to be seen by a doctor but are sent to sit in another corridor instead.

I do remember what I read when I was ill, though, and I wonder if one concentrates harder because of it. For example, I remember reading William Boyd’s ‘Brazzaville Beach’ in hospital and it had an almost hallucinatory effect on me. Yesterday I read John Lanchester’s ‘The Wall’, which combines global warming and Brexit in a simple, organic way; waters have risen, walls are built, nobody gets in or out of the UK. It’s a fable that could be read by kids, really, but powerfully written.

So, one book down – half a dozen in, including John Lahr’s life of Tennessee Williams, the stories of Raymond Carver, ‘We Learn Nothing’, essays by Tim Kreider, the Field Guide to English Clergy and Besant’s History of Early & Medieval London. Some are for research, some for pleasure. None are strictly what I would call comfort reading. For that I would go to Dickens, always, and P G Wodehouse, Christie and Marsh, Allingham, Bainbridge, Waterhouse, Sillitoe, Tinniswood, Clarke, Bradbury, too many to choose from.

For sickie comfort viewing I’ll retreat to odd monochrome British movies. I just watched ‘The Party’s Over’ with a pre-facially scarred Oliver Reed – honestly, those pesky beatniks! – and creep, evocative ‘Seance on a Wet Afternoon’, both with John Barry soundtracks (how could anyone have looked at Oliver Reed and not thought he was going to be trouble?). Comedies would include all those films that manage to squeeze in every British character actor plus Richard Wattis as the man from the ministry.

As for modern comfort films, well, these are not comfortable times but I think ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’, ‘Hipsters’ and ‘The Shape of Water’ may go into a future rainy day selection box, with ‘Rogue One’ replacing ‘The Dam Busters’, which is after all essentially the same film – any further suggestions?

12 comments on “The Best Cures For Sickness”

  1. Ian Mason says:

    “Richard Wattis as the man from the ministry” describes every film I remember seeing on television as a child.

  2. Brian Evans says:

    I was shocked the other day when Mr Fowler said he disliked Will Hay. His “Oh Mr Porter!” does it for me every time. Will Hay’s, not Mr Fowler’s.

  3. Ken Mann says:

    Can anyone tell me which film has an enthusiastic american asking Richard Wattis if they are in for an exciting day’s cricket at Lords and being puzzled by his response?

  4. Ian Luck says:

    Mention of Oliver Reed reminds me of the ‘Spitting Image’ skit featuring him, and, I believe, Peter O’ Toole, who complains to Reed about a monstrous hangover, and the minor problem that one of his legs seems to be missing. Reed then explains in great detail about how much booze they drank: “We quaffed, and quaffed again”, etc., and then says: “So, if anyone asks you how you lost your leg, you just tell them that you went out for a drink with OLLY REED!”

  5. snowy says:

    The dialogue looks rather dry written down, but it is Rattigan so meant to be played and not read.

    Senator: Ought to be a exciting day?

    Cricket Fan in the Stand.: I hope not. All I want is to see the boys piling up the runs quietly and not getting out. Don’t want any excitement, thanks.

    Senator: Pardon me sir, but as a stranger in these parts, may I ask a question?

    Cricket Fan in the Stand.: Go ahead.

    Senator: This, I gather, is the fourth day of this particular game. I also gather that during the past few weeks, there have been four other games, each of five days, between these same teams.

    Cricket Fan in the Stand.: Correct.

    Senator: I also gather that this particular game cannot possible decide anything, whichever team wins.

    Cricket Fan in the Stand.: That’s right.

    Senator: It’s also I’m told very possible that neither side will in fact win this game.

    Cricket Fan in the Stand.: Well, let’s hope so.

    The Final Test (1953)

    Directed by Anthony Asquith
    Written by Terence Rattigan
    Cast: Jack Warner, Robert Morley, Len Hutton, Denis Compton, Alec Bedser, Godfrey Evans…

  6. Ken Mann says:

    Thanks for that.

  7. Peter Dixon says:

    My cure for sickness is 2 saveloy sandwiches with peas pudding, stuffing, mustard and gravy dip. If you can eat them they can’t be thrown back up because they stick like cement. The saltiness is just what you need to restore your ph levels.

    and lots of fresh orange juice.

    ‘What doesn’t kill yer makes yer better!’

  8. Jan says:

    Just had an unbelievably long and rotten day spent in an A + E department with an elderly patient purely because a clinic contacted the county hospital early on In. the day only to be told there was no bedspace available. Therefore 5 or 6 hours in A+ E became the only way to get a creaking, overloaded system to take the very elderly patient in.

    Don’t ask me! ?! Its crazy I know it’s
    Fucking crazy but the whole system is dissolving around us …..just pray to your God(s) you don’t end up stuck in it.

  9. Jan says:

    oh by the the way I had one of Bernard Cornwells Arthurian novels – “The Winter King “- with me.
    Thank Christ.

    Oliver Reed still looked pretty wonderful even after he had been glassed but I see what you mean Mr. F. He’s got beware/grief approaching writ large all all.over him.

    They filmed very carefully around his scars for the rest of his career. Right up until
    ” Gladiator”

  10. Martin Tolley says:

    Peter Dixon, are you any relation/sparring partner/other connection to Ken McDonald, a Scotsman who used to make artificial legs? As a student he had a penchant for copious quantities of alcohol followed by sandwiches which bear a striking similarity to your own recipe. The best I could take was peanut butter, pickled egg and pilchard.

  11. Ian Luck says:

    Martin – Arthur Bryant’s sandwiches are not recipes to be followed. Therein lies madness, and a few trips to kneel before the porcelain god. ; )

  12. Peter Dixon says:

    Martin, I’m probably related to Ken by drink. Strangely, I’ve been legless a number of times…..sadly not with Ollie Reed.

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