Food is the new obsession in my life. I’m always cooking it. I don’t always eat it. Sometimes I give it away. Sometimes, I am ashamed to say, it goes to waste. Waste is a sin in my world of zero food waste tolerance. I pride myself that nothing goes to waste.

It is with some pleasure then, that I am able to bring together twin interests of hot and spicy food and the desire to cook everything in my fridge, before it goes so far past it’s sell by date that it has managed to walk itself to the compost.

There is nothing you can’t do with a blender, an onion, some garlic and ginger and any one of a number of spice combinations to turn the laziest of vegetables into the most delicious of meals. There is a recipe for everything online, if only you look hard enough, and in an effort to express my huge thanks and great regard for members of the A Team, who are my counsellors, my personal shoppers, my nurses and the very best of friends, I have been keen to share my rotten vegetables with them in various hot and spicey sauces.

The Old Bag didn’t flinch but she did turn a blush shade of pink. “Phaal?” she asked. Here I want to be clear. She wasn’t checking to see if I thought my own curry creation was foul, but whether it was hotter than a vindaloo.
“I couldn’t tell you,” I said. It was the truth. It made me sweat but didn’t taste of much other
than a burning sensation. At this point, even a fire in the mouth was a welcome relief after chewing on cardboard for the last few months.

The Old Bag told me she’s once played a game of bluff with a friend who ordered a vindaloo. She’s decided that if he could do that, she could manage a phaal. She couldn’t. She and I were playing chicken all over again.

If the truth be told, what we were really playing was “Aubergine”. I know the aubergine has never had much of a profile when it comes to games of risk, but there is a first for everything. It’s like a game of Chicken because both diners eat their way through the aubergine in its accompanying fire, without swerving from the task, until one gives up and the other emerges triumphant, or they both simultaneously capitulate and avert spontaneous combustion, or in the worst of all outcomes, polish off the lot and suffer the outrageous consequences in which both emerge as losers.

The stupefying impact of the aubergine produced no winners. The Old Bag may have had her vision blurred by the heat. If she did, she never said. I would not admit to any consequences myself, but did eat yoghurt as any accompaniment, in an effort to quell the flames.

It’s a cruel irony that chemo and the accompanying regime of steroids makes you fat, and yet I have reaped none of the pleasures as I have grown to resemble the Sister’s garage minus the plants growing out of the roof. Never mind, “That’ll put hairs on your chest,” one of the elderly relatives offered up, by way of bigging up the aubergine. Setting aside the novelty factor, a hairy chest would be the final insult given the state of my otherwise baldness.

I keep reminding myself that however others see me, in my mind, I am trying to be the heroine of my own story here, and I have to do whatever that takes. If I can beat the Old Bag in a game of Aubergine, that’s good enough for me.

Written: Saturday 31st December 2022