I woke up feeling euphoric and light-headed with a squeezing pain in my chest.
‘How interesting,’ I thought. ‘Perhaps I am dying.’
Then I tried to sit up and began coughing and realised with great trepidation that I was not having a blissful deathbed moment but that I was going to live and endure more bronchitis.
My housemate came into the room, fit as a fiddle and rosy-cheeked.
‘I wonder if you have pneumonia, ‘ she said. ‘Remember that Eben is arriving some time this morning with a freshly killed goose and you must haggle over the price with him. And then take care of the goose. Don’t forget to singe the feathers you can’t pluck. And drain excess blood, cut offf fatty bits, the whole tootie.’
‘I don’t feel up to dealing with a freshly killed feathered goose,’ I whimpered.
‘Anyone would think you lived in fat-cat America,’ said Una nastily. ‘You are in Africa now and we need to be able to feed 30 people with TB for lunch next week. Do your green apple stuffing.’
In my next life I am going to come back as somebody who just goes into the supermarket and buys pre-packaged and shrinkwrapped factory-farmed meat crammed with carcinogens. Or maybe not.
And I also need to crawl into the kitchen and bake dog biscuits for my greedy puppies. They are easily bribed to behave well while I am in bed sick, but I am running out of biscuits and want to bake biscuits or them that are cheaper and more nutritious than the expensive bone-shaped things we buy.
But right now I am lying in bed sick and spluttering and wondering how on earth I coped with decades of stomach-turning alcoholism when I can’t deal with a touch of bronchitis. I could call my neighbour to help with the duck but if I clean the feathers of a young goose I can stuff a crewel-embroidered silk pillow for my study. And I do want to try my green apple stuffing and see if a fine fat goose will fit into my favourite roasting dish,
For so many years I turned my back on life. Now I cannot bear to waste a minute of it.