Alison Goulding: My mother, an onion and a moral dilemna

The dreaded finger
The dreaded finger
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ONE minute you’re chopping onions and the next you’re facing an intricate moral dilemna.

Picture the scene: In the kitchen of Goulding Towers I am weilding a giant knife and dismembering vegetables for a stir fry.

The stir fry is for myself and Ma Goulding, who is coming to visit the next day.

Being short of time I have opted to do all the prep a day early.

Sliced carrots, garlic, peppers are stacking up on the chopping board.

And then I set to work on an onion. Little do I know I am about to be undone in a moment of crisis. The knife is sharp, but the onion resists and suddenly I am missing a big chunk of skin and half the nail from my middle finger.

The colour drains from my face as I wait for the wound to start spurting blood. But is is one of those freaky surface injuries that stings like a mother but doesn’t bleed.

I look down and realise I’m looking at a giant pile of white chopped onion. Nothing looks more like white chopped onion than a sliver of finger skin and nail.

And there I was, standing at a moral crossroads. Could I really feed my mother a stir fry that included a chunk of my own finger?

“No” said my brain, “You cannot.”

So I began painstakingly sifting through the onion. After ten minutes I realised this was totally futile.

I consulted my brain again with the same question.

“Maybe...” it said: “If you cook it for long enough the nail will go soft and technically it might end up in your portion anyway.”

I realised at that moment that my desire not to waste food was stronger than my desire to prevent my mother being an unwitting cannibal.

Also, I reasoned, many moons ago I was inside my mother so it’s not really that weird for her to digest part of my hand.

So I shoved everything into a giant tupperware box and started cleaning up.

After five minutes, my warped logic had curdled, and I knew I’d done the wrong thing.

But I still couldn’t bring myself to chuck it all in the bin.

And then..salvation. While tidying everything away I found the offending nail/skin horror hiding behind drying rack.

“Yesss!!!” I shouted, punching the air.

But now I am left with the nagging feeling that my morals have gone thin.

If fate hadn’t intervened and ejected the nail through the air and into a safe place then I would have left it as an ingredient in a meal for a woman who spent years trying to teach me to treat others how I’d like to be treated myself.

Like a coward I am now taking refuge behind the old saying ‘What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve.”

Or my updated version: “It’s fine to accidentally cut off your own nail and then feed it to someone - as long as they don’t know about it!”

Oh. Dear.