Avoiding The Well-Meaning Slap

I join todays writing fray around half a minute after temporarily choking myself with an uncouth gulp of tepid tea. Thankfully this self-afflicted carelessness only caused a minor irritation to my gag reflex; resulting in only minimal alarm to my briefly startled nervous system. Consequently, there was no elongated spurting of beverage through my nostrils, or indeed the need for someone to administer a recovery blow to my back, akin to those delivered by mater in my childhood.

On hearing the sounds of my short coughing fit, my mum wandered into the kitchen of casa Strachan senior to see if I was ok. Sitting in the dining room, I was at a loss why she ventured into the kitchen to inquire into the state of my health….. Unless of course the dizzy mare’s thoughtful query was aimed at the fridge or washing machine!!

To my relief, by the time she arrived into the dining room, where I was about to commence this narrative, my choking fit had abated. Subsequently, I dodged receipt of her heavy handed back blows generically utilised by the old lady as a catch all cure during coughing/choking incidents.

Although, significantly larger and stronger than Maggie Strachan, her powerful slaps to top of the back during airway blockage, bringing back disturbing childhood memories. Including one occasion when a well-intentioned slap was administered with such power when a piece of apple was finally dislodged from my windpipe, it was regurgitated back into my mouth as puree.


Although ordinarily a bright lady, Mrs S senior tended not to apply much root cause analysis on witnessing one of her young offspring choking, coughing or sneezing. Each imposter was seemingly greeted with a heavy handed strike to the back.

As a consequence, where possible, my brother Ian, sister Helen and me took proactive measures to avoid mater’s unnecessarily over the top interventions, which I’d venture were more distressing than suffering the windpipe trauma itself.

I remember the 1970’s as a time when my siblings and I stayed clear of pepper and locations with high pollen counts; along with ensuring we thoroughly chewed our food prior to swallowing. It didn’t completely stop bouts of sneezing/choking on foodstuffs or drink; however, it was a strategy which I’d posit reduced instances of back slap induced trauma.

These post-heart attack days, when I’m consuming blood thinning medication, I dread to think how bruised my back would’ve got if my earlier brief choke had required motherly intervention. The old lady is a lot frailer in her dotage, but I’d imagine she still packs a smack that’d leave quite severe bruising should it come to pass.

I’d hate to see an ironic news story in next weeks local Morley Observer newspaper of the septuagenerian East Ardsley lady who’d inadvertently committed manslaughter. The result of her fifty-something son bleeding to death internally with injuries sustained during attempts to stop him asphyxiating on a carelessly slurped mouthful of tea.

Although, thinking about it, I probably wouldn’t get to see the story anyway – According to Thuxtonthwaite medium Mavis Clack, the celestial afterlife is notoriously erratic when it comes to receipt of local West Yorkshire newspapers.

Anyhow, no harm was done during my brief choking incident. Consequently, in the words of the old adage, I lived to tell the tale; Mrs Strachan senior also mercifully avoiding possible manslaughter charges.

In 1978, a TV commercial advocated that tea was the best drink of the day. Without wanting too sound too melodramatic, this morning nearly turned out not to be the case for yours truly.

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