I was alone in the house, making lunch, distracted and tired from the brutal combination of late night gigs and early morning baby-minding. I was eating a fresh apricot to keep my energy up. Oooh get me. Fresh apricots. Like a decadent Roman emperor. I promise this was my first time. They’d had them at Tesco Metro and like a wide-eyed post-war child seeing his first banana, I couldn't resist.
But my fruit-based vanity combined with parental exhaustion nearly killed me, because I wasn't paying enough attention and gobbled up the stone as well as the flesh. I was sure I could feel the apricot pit lodged in my throat. I coughed and experienced the kind of discomfort that could only come from having a potential tree jammed in your gullet. I panicked. There was no one around and I couldn't give myself the Heimlich manoeuvre. Was I going to choke to death? Would my wife and daughter return to find me blue and lifeless? (spoiler alert – No – astute readers may have worked that out already).
What was interesting though, in these seconds that I thought my life might be about to end, I didn't feel fear or contemplate what might lie beyond. I just experienced acute embarrassment. What a stupid and needless way to die? Even a three-year-old child knows that you don't eat apricot stones. Everyone was going to think I was a numbskull who deserved his fate. I was also mortified that they'd find out that I'd been eating apricots. “Who does this guy think he is? Apples and oranges not good enough? A peach not fancy enough? I am glad he’s dead.”
I felt angry that I was going to leave my daughter without a father. But mainly ashamed that she would eventually discover how I died. She'd tell people her dad was dead and they'd initially feel sympathy. But they'd ask what happened and she'd have to tell them that I had failed to eat a piece of fruit properly. And then they'd find out that the fruit was an apricot and my affectation would be exposed. Most fathers lose the respect of their daughters eventually, but I would never have hers after this pretentious apricot debacle.
When I realised that I was still able to breathe and that the pain in my throat was just from the coarse stone having scraped my uvula (it’s all right, that’s not as rude as it looks) I googled "apricot stones" and discovered they contain cyanide. I was still doomed.
Taking a leaf out of the book of the old woman who swallowed a fly I asked Twitter if any animals eat apricot stones, so I might save myself by ingesting one (can’t recall how that turned out for her, but I think it went OK).
Someone told me only dodo would do. Did I have time to extract dodo DNA from a stuffed bird in a museum, splice that together with pigeon DNA and then wait for the dodo to hatch before forcing it down my oesphogaus? Possibly not.
Luckily I discovered there’s only a tiny amount of cyanide in one apricot. I’d only be in trouble if I absent-mindedly ate all eight apricots with their stones in them and then popped to Tescos and absent-mindedly bought about 80 more apricots and then absent-mindedly ate all them and their stones.
I was going to be fine. For the moment. Soon the apricot stone was going to find its own way out. And if it had hurt my uvula this much, then…. I wish I was dead.
Searching for a last minute Father’s Day gift last week I vistied John Lewis website which recommended several dad-orientated gifts. They included a Phillips Bodygroomer, which is definitely not appropriate for my (admittedly pretty hairy) 78-year old father, but I don’t think any child should give that to their dad. Here you go, pop. Whenever you’re shaving your balls I want you to think of me.
I got it for him obviously.