Onions, All Creatures & Me
Posted March 19, 2010on:
That was true for “Upstairs, Downstairs,” which was a don’t-miss event in our home for years. Now I own the series and love seeing all 530,000 episodes, give or a take a few.
And I loved “Prime Suspect,” that British crime series that first made me aware of the wonderful British actress, Helen Mirren.
And then a few years ago I fell in love with “All Creatures Great and Small,” made from the books of the same name about the British veterinarian beginning in practice in the 1930s. I used to watch it early mornings while I was on the treadmill.
I reconnected with the series this week and I will forever be a fan because of a small scene that I saw Thursday.
Before I describe it, I need to take a tangential side trip to the first article that I ever wrote. It was a little essay at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Daily Cardinal, the student newspaper. It began something like this: “I learned two things from my mother: to strongly dislike Richard Nixon and to hate onions.”
With the exception of our son, Michael, no one in our family eats onions, particularly raw ones. Oh, Maggie’s husband wishes that were not true, but Mike (not Michael and yes it is confusing at times) has accepted this painful reality in his life.
Getting back to the “All Creatures” episode, it seems a dreaded customer of the veterinary practice was a Mr. Sidlow. He only called for a veterinarian to come to his farm when his animals were on death’s door. And that was only after he tried some pretty wicked home remedies.
On this occasion, when Mr. Farnam, the senior veterinarian, arrived on the farm, he discovered that Mr. Sidley’s home remedy du jour was to push a raw onion up the 25-year-old animal’s tush three times a day, for six days.
And surprisingly, it did not cure what ailed the horse.
Mr. Farnam told his client that the animal would have to be put down. “I’m not in the habit of seeing animals suffer needlessly,” he said.
The owner was convinced the 25-year-old horse had another five years of work left in him. When he protested having his horse euthanized, the veterinarian said, “If I put 18 raw onions up your rectum, you would be unhappy too.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Oh, I should add one thing. I learned that James Herriot was a pseudonym for veterinarian James Alfred Wight. He lived at a time when it was not appropriate for professionals to advertise their services, which writing a book would be considered. So he made up the names of the characters, including his own.
If you haven’t read them, you would be amazed at how wonderful these stories are. They make you smile, laugh, worry and tear up all in the same story or episode. They are incredibly good stuff and I’m not a great animal lover (although I do love my cats).
What does this have to do with breast cancer? Nothing. But it is a serious discussion of the timeless issue of onions. I’m glad I could bring clarity to it.