‘One in five people have dandruff. One in four people have a mental health problem. I had both.’ so says Ruby Wax, wonderfully irreverent comedienne that she is. I have always envied her her killer one liners but I wouldn’t swap her razor sharp wit with the depression she has suffered from for years and which eventually prompted her to go back to university to study psychology and graduate with an MA in cognitive therapy. These days, rather than continuing to pursue her career as a TV comedy host, she focuses on campaigning for mental health, but in her lectures and books on the subject she is still as hilariously funny as ever.
As a family, we’ve had a couple of fun encounters with her. Fourteen years ago, my then teenage daughter was approached by a TV crew while sunbathing with a friend in Hyde Park, to see if she would participate as a member of the audience in the Ruby Wax show. These bods then telephoned me to tell me that Ruby Wax was planning an episode of her show on decluttering life, and they wondered if I would permit them to secretly transport my daughter’s wardrobe to the show so that Ruby would then call her up on stage to examine its contents. I agreed, but having far too much respect for my daughter to put her in an embarrassing position on national TV, I pre-warned her to give her the opportunity to edit out items she didn’t want seen. The show was a great success all round and my girl had a whale of a time mixing with the other guests, the unforgettable Northern Ireland Secretary, the late Mo Mowlem, who ended up with a pair of my daughter’s frilly knickers on her head (freshly laundered!) , as you do, American actress, Stockard Channing and, much to my daughter’s thrill at the time, boy band ‘Blue’. Afterwards, the wardrobe, with all its teenage contents, was then duly returned to our home. A few years later, my daughter’s father, my ex-husband, bumped into Ruby in a bar in Capetown. Both of them, very slightly merry, then called my daughter over a jolly three way conversation, reminiscing about that show.
Everybody likes a laugh, so it’s not surprising that we became firm Ruby Wax fans. Just the other day, Ruby gave a televised interview to Telegraph Arts Editor Sarah Compton at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich. So popular was the event, that we could only just about secure four seats right up in the gods. Ruby was on fine ascerbic form, funny but also informative, even though it was quite apparent that she, shall we say, didn’t quite ‘gel’ with the interviewer. Her subject matter was the currently much touted ‘mindfulness’, more of which in her book, ‘Frazzled’. So much about dandruff and mental health.
Mindful of our stomachs, we preceded the occasion by a visit to ‘Rocca’ in Dulwich Village. Now, I’m quite the health nut. I know you wouldn’t think so with my obvious penchant for pudding but, I try, oh Lord, I try! Once in a while though, a pizza and pasta fest has to be on the cards, and Rocca is just the venue for that. So there the four of us sat, my daughter, her lovely husband, my lovely husband and I, at a rather draughty table in this busy, clearly family friendly Italian restaurant with an inviting ambience. The son-in-law, who had been a schoolboy in Dulwich Village and who appeared to be very familiar with all the local haunts, regaled us with some amusing anecdotes of his antics of yesteryear, well edited, I imagine, while we chose from the typical pizzeria style menu.
The boys both chose the tagliolini with white Cornish crab meat, chilli and bottarga shavings, the daughter went for a pizza picante with piquillo peppers, hot ‘nduja’ and jalapenos and I, rather boringly, as ever went for the faithful old pizza Americana with pepperoni, tomato and mozzarella. The pasta arrived and, being the ultimate gentlemen, our husbands waited for the pizza to be delivered to the table. We waited. Then we waited some more. Finally we encouraged them to start before the tagliolini cooled down. Needless to say, with nothing in front of us, we generously helped ourselves to some of theirs. The tagliolini tasted quite bland on first impression until the chilli and the fishy hint of the Bottarga, cured, salted fish roe with a taste of anchovy, kicked in. Even so, a good splash of chilli oil and some black pepper was necessary to give it some character. Three quarters of the way through the pasta, our pizze made their appearance. The Piccante was nice and spicy, the Americano a tad less so, both were juicy and cheesy. The crusts, however, were a bit so-so, but their spongeyness worked well for mopping up some of the pasta oil left on our men’s plates.
In for a penny, in for a pound: between us all we shared two slices of cheese cake. That, surprisingly, was really rather good, tangy and creamy, with a crispy biscuit base.
The bill for the four of us came to £77.45 including a bottle of Pinot Grigio plus a large glass of the same, a glass of Prosecco and an Americano coffee, but excluding service.
Well carbed up and fortified, we made our way out into the perishingly cold night and on to let Ruby Wax warm the cockles of our hearts with her humourous take on a serious subject.
What I wore
Monochrome: winter white skinny jeans by Paige, a thick black polo neck jumper with winter white button detail on the sleeves, a black/sky blue reversible Hermes belt with a silver H buckle (not shown), a short wool black and white houndstooth Armani Exchange jacket, long flat black boots by Sasha Fabiani and a black Hermes Birkin bag.
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Kia aka Fizz of Life