The following is an extract from ‘Bad Hair Year’ by Bambi Smyth. It’s a memoir that explores the experience of being diagnosed with two different types of cancer within a 12 month period. You can buy Bambi’s book here.
My friend Sam has invited me to the Portsea Polo Tournament, where in turn we are guests of one of the sponsors who have an open-sided marquee, replete with champagne bar and overstuffed leather Chesterfields, with waiters hovering about offering mini quiches and baby ice-creams cones. It’s frightfully glamorous and quite the place to be, and indeed I’ve never done it quite so stylishly.
But rather than being thrilled by the experience, I feel like an empty shell behind a smiling face.
I watch the parade of young fillies – the two legged kind – stalk past me clutching their glasses of whatever it’s hip to drink these days, and I listen to the high-pitched laughter of Ladies Who Trill. I can smell the Chanel from over-tanned bosoms, not unpleasantly mixed in with the scent of horse manure as it’s kicked about on the field by thundering ponies costing around $9000 a hoof. I watch it all as if I’m on another planet, and I simply can’t fathom what the point of it all is.
Here I am facing the direst situation of my entire life, and I’m sipping Bollinger. I mean, I don’t want to sound ungrateful – and indeed, I should be lapping up the absolute fabulousness of it all – but I’m finding it exceptionally hard right now to be particularly positive. Because really, how can I be happy when my latest acquaintance is a neurosurgeon? On the wrong side of the operating table?
Within half an hour of arriving, I’m thinking of going home and leaving all the hob-nobbing and the trilling and the bottom-watching to those people who don’t know they’ve got a four centimetre bony lump in their head, and an even larger unidentifiable tumour right behind it, which may well be plotting its evil war strategy even as they reach for another prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spear.