Hot and sour slimming soup? But of course! However, I demand your attention for a minute more.
I mentioned previously about a family situation that was taking up our time – my uncle died yesterday after a long, brave fight with various issues. Now, I’m not mentioning that because I want people to send me messages wishing me well or that they’re thinking of me, which is sweet, but death is death, it comes to us all, and I’m dealing with it in my own way.
It’s been on the cards for a couple of years – we’ve had that many premature dashes to the hospital as ‘he won’t last an hour’ that I’ve actually been half-tempted to throw a blue light on top of the Smart Car and pick up patients on the way. Actually, the Smart Car would make for a shit ambulance, wouldn’t it? Unless it was a dwarf needing a corn plaster we’d be buggered.
No, the reason I mention it is because, like I’ve said so many times before, I wanted to praise the NHS. Every single person – with no exceptions – that I have dealt with (and I know the same goes for my mother) at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary has been an absolute delight. Cleaners full of smiles and chatter at 2am in the morning, nurses rushed off their feet but never too busy for a smile, doctors making sure that the terminally ill shuffle off with comfort and compassion. For the last two weeks my uncle has been in the Critical Care or High Dependency Unit fighting for his life and not once has anyone shown us anything less than courtesy and good humour as we visited. Even my black-as-pitch jokes about nipping shut his oxygen tube to save the NHS’s strained budget were met with laughter, rather than cold looks and being asked to step outside by a stern consultant.
We are so, so, so lucky to have an NHS, and we’re luckier still that the folks serving the public – from the very top of the ladder to the very bottom – have their hearts open and pure dedication running through. They were tremendous when my nana died and they’ve been wonderful this time around as well. More praise is needed. And more money. Lots more money. To the folks that make the difference.
One day last week Paul and I were in that hospital on ‘dead alert’ (as it were) from 10am to 4am the next day. Let me tell you, that’s more than enough time to think about things. Hell, we spent long enough in the little room where they sit the relatives in case of ‘bad news’ that I can recreate it wholly in my head. You know when Sherlock Holmes (modern) visits his mind palace? I’m like that now, only with more leaflets about pressure sores and Alzheimers fluttering across my vision. That’s perhaps one thing they could improve – the waiting room has those awful pleather sofas that invariably make a big sucking farting noise when you hoist yourself up and everything is painted that slightly diseased yellow so favoured of the old NHS – weirdly, it’s the colour of the white ceiling immediately above Paul’s mother’s favourite chair. The ‘nicotine lacquer’ effect, I believe.
It was a very sad room made worse by the fact that we were joined, for what was the longest hour of my entire life, by a chap who just wouldn’t shut the fuck up. He entered the room just as I had laid down on the sofa to try and fall asleep on Paul’s lap (what can I say: I find the smell of chaffed thighs and knobs soporific). He exclaimed loudly and backed out the door, clearly thinking he’d interrupted me mid-blowjob. Because, yes, who doesn’t get aroused in the ‘is he dead yet’ room? Nothing gets me more rigid than posters urging me to think F-A-S-T in case of stroke. Anyway, once he was sure that we weren’t indulging in some grief-based fellatio, he took a seat. And that was very much that: no further chance of sleep.
I heard about his maladies, I heard about his travel to the hospital, I heard what was wrong with the NHS, I heard about his taxi driver friend who had just had a heart attack, I heard about the price of fuel and I can faithfully recount details of the last seventeen passengers he had picked up in his taxi. He didn’t pick up on my social cues – my polite but firm nodding, my glazed eyes, the fact that I’d stuffed my ears with pages from a 1997 copy of Take a Break from the reading rack. I did have a titter at someone’s answer to the arrow-word – (NAUTICAL TRANSPORT (9) was answered as M-O-T-E-R-B-I-K-E) – I rather thought it had to be one of my nana’s old issues where instead of thinking things through she’d just jam any old word in as long as it had roughly the right amount of letters. Even, sometimes, when it didn’t: MURDERERER was a favourite of mine. Anyway, sensing this chap was one of those dear fellows who could talk underweater if he had to, we moved downstairs.
A&E at 1am in the morning is an interesting place, isn’t it? A waiting time of four hours and I reckon 70% of the people waiting were smashed out of their face. Lots of bloodied noses, black eyes, bust lips. How I pity folk having to deal with all that dross. I can’t bear being around drunk people when I’m sober, I’d be Harold Shipman-ing the lot of them before anyone could say ‘check for an air bubble’. We spent the rest of the evening drinking piss-poor tea and staring moodily at our phones. I played Super Mario Run until my already boss-eyes went awry. A very long night.
Ah well, it’s all over now. Like I said, no need for sympathy, we’re fine, it’s very sad but nowt that can be done. Life goes on. Well, mostly.
Right, let’s get to the hot and sour slimming soup. Why slimming? Dunno. Something to do with the vinegar! Can I make a plea with you? Don’t be put off by the appearance of this dish – give it a go, it’s a really tasty, quick soup full of nutrients and taste. This makes enough for four full bowls so although technically it should be 0.75 syns, you can bugger off if you think I’m including the quarter syn. Half syn per portion!
to make hot and sour slimming soup, you need:
- 6 shittake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 60g bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks (that’s half of a small tuna-sized tin, drained)
- 2 pork chops, all visible fat removed
- 100g firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 4 tbsp white vinegar
- 3 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 4 tbsp water (3 syns)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 spring onion, chopped
to make hot and sour slimming soup, you simply must:
- chop the pork chops into small strips about half an inch long, and quarter of an inch thick, and set aside
- in a large saucepan, bring 1.2 litres of water to the boil, crumble in the stock cube and stir until dissolved, and then add the soy sauce
- add the bamboo shoots, mushrooms and pork to the pan, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about three minutes
- add the tofu, pepper and vinegar to the pan and bring to the boil again
- stir in the cornflour mixture and keep stirring until the soup has thickened a bit
- turn off the heat and pour in the beaten egg, stirring gently but continuously so it doesn’t scramble into one big manky lump
- pour into bowls, sprinkle on some spring onions and eat!
Looking for more soup ideas? More ideas on meat? Things to do with tofu – well, you’re shit out of luck, it’s the first time we’ve used it. Even so, click the buttons below!
Nice to hear someone speaking openly about death and dying. I work in the NHS in Palliative Care and after 20 years in post, I still meet a great many folk who seem genuinely surprised and disappointed that their relative is nearing the end. I mean, when the patient is aged 33, everyone is allowed to feel a bit cheated, but when they’re 93, well, it was going to be on the cards sometime soon, surely ?
But I remember when my granddad died at 94 I was gutted…I kind of hoped he’d just last forever 🙂
You do your grief in whatever way it works for you, and thank you for bigging up the NHS – I don’t entirely agree with your praise for people ‘at the top’, because for everyone of us working-at-the-coal-face types, there seem to be 3 managers, some of whom have never touched a bedpan, telling us how to do it faster, quicker, cheaper, smarter. But I agree that from the Consultant to the cleaners, praise is due, and gratefully received.
With best wishes to you + your folks.
Behave yourself nicely at the funeral and I look forward to the blog entitled ‘Twochubbycubs put the Fun into Funeral”.
So sorry I know what u mean about the room lol was there for 6 weeks we my brother ,Glad u both are OK well as can be take care of each other Great to hear u praising the NHS agree with everything u said xxx