IT’S been a fraught 48 hours but I can finally stop holding my breath... I did not poison my family.
In order for you to fully appreciate my high level of anxiety, let me first bring you back a couple of weeks, to our fridge and a packet of mince.
I am in a very unusual relationship, in that yer man does our weekly shop. Yes, each Saturday morning he wanders off alone, 40 shopping bags tucked under his arm, with no input from myself except a roar of goodbye as he leaves the house. It’s a well-known fact about our village, I’m a pretty rubbish wife.
So, back to the mince. Yer man bought it but I’d no desire to cook it. As the days passed, the ‘gone off’ date edged ever closer. Each morning yer man placed it at the front of the fridge, by evening I’d ensured it was buried beneath butter and jams.
“Are you ever going to use the mince or will I freeze it,” he asked three days in a row.
“I’ll do shepherd’s pie tomorrow,” I replied every day.
But each tomorrow saw me allergic to peeling a hundred potatoes, so the mince remained untouched and forgotten. Finally, one afternoon I found it hidden in the back of the fridge looking a rather unusual dark brown colour. It’s best-before date, the day before.
What to do? Throw it out and watch yer man cry? Or put it in the freezer with the other four batches of mince? So I froze it, taking it out two days ago.
“We’re having lasagne for dinner,” I announced to my children as they ate breakfast. I’m always immensely pleased with myself when I plan dinner several hours in advance.
Opening the mince that afternoon, I sniffed. What was that smell? Surely not the mince? Maybe it wasn’t happy having been kept in a packet this long? As it sizzled on the hot pan, it looked OK. I tasted a morsel. Did mince usually taste this strong? ‘Who cares,’ I thought, drowning it in a jar of lasagne sauce as there was no time to cook anything else.
Taking it out of the oven it was a sight to behold, cheese bubbling and the edges not quite as burnt as usual. Should I voice my concerns? Surely it would be better to say nothing and wait and see if anyone spat it out?
I plated it up, my portion the size of a pea and yer man’s plate overflowing. My family dug in. I poked at mine, a forkful almost making it into my mouth, but I couldn’t do it.
My ever-observant daughter stopped eating. “What’s wrong with the dinner?”
“Nothing,” I spluttered, “I just ate a bit which I thought tasted a little odd.”
Yer man was scraping the final remains off his plate. “That was lovely,” he said or at least I think that’s what he said as his mouth was full.
“Well I’m not eating it if it’s dodgy,” said my daughter pushing her plate away, closely followed by her sister.
“It’s absolutely fine,” I lied. “Honestly would I take even the slightest risk?”
So they continued to eat most of their dinner and I’ve spent the 48 hours since filled with regret which reached a peak about 4am when I heard someone go to the bathroom and while in there have a fit of coughing.
“Dear God, it’s started,” I thought. “I knew that mince was off.”
Minutes later the poisoned child headed back to bed humming softly on her way.
It’s Saturday morning and no one is dead. Yer man’s just arrived home from shopping and yes another packet of mince now sits at the front of the fridge.
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