The Time I Almost Choked By Stuffing Too Much Pork In My Mouth In The Middle Of A Global Pandemic
It was Saturday 28th March 2020. We were five days into “lockdown”… and it was all getting a bit much.
A group of friends of mine, known simply as ‘Bants’, had invited me to experience my first ever HouseParty. I was excited, I was nervous, I was trying to work out how to “do it” whilst maintaining the ‘cool’ that Paul O’Donnell had previously been known for.
It was then that the pork steak struck.
My brother, Liam, he had just come out of Quarantine after ‘showing symptoms’… and after a week of having meals cooked for him he very kindly offered to make “the meal of the day”. We were all grateful. He cooked the four pork steaks I had bought from Bosworth's Butchers just one day before and… without critiquing his cooking too heavily I will say that the pork steaks were… rather tough.
For me, in the busy hustle and bustle of isolated life, after a day of back to back Zooms, well I was forced to eat said pork steak as we commenced this ‘HouseParty’.
After a group photo where I stuck my thumbs up like this...
I then raised a rather large segment of Pork Steak to my mouth, wrapped in bacon with a thin slither of cheese on top. I chewed it for a second or two, lost the battle against its meaty toughness, then swallowed it whole.
The world slowed down.
As the HouseParty trivia quiz continued in slow motion in front of me, I could feel my pork laden throat begin to close. Questions raced through my head like: Had I put too much in my mouth?… How do I smile through this for the other HouseParty guests?… Who was the highest earning musician of 2019?… and will my glass of Australian pinot be able to wash this all away?
It did not. It could not. The meat was far too tough.
And this is where the real drama started.
I quickly flicked my phone down to save the sight for the other HouseParty attendees then began to cough to try to expel the pork steak from my innocent naïve 28 year old throat. From my headphones I could hear them say “oh where’s Paul gone” and go “ohhhhhh” every time that I coughed, suspecting that it was 'the rona'.
They did not know, however, that I was in fact choking on a pork steak.
In my panic, I ran downstairs, and through my pork laden throat I turned to Mum and Dad on the sofas and through a slightly weakened voice I decreed: “I’m choking on a pork steak”.
I coughed… and I coughed… and I coughed… until Mum lovingly said “can you go to the sink, because you’re dribbling on the carpet here”.
To save the rug, newly brought from Dunelm I ran to the sink with Dad following swiftly behind. Unsure as to how to assist he repeatedly slapped my back… as time went on, and his concern for my wellbeing grew… the slaps got ever more vicious.
28 years of disappointment, now finally, his chance to vent… whilst saving my life!!!
As for Mum… with her years of experience not being an NHS staff member, well she turned to Dad and said “Chris you need to get him like this”. She went on to present her unique rendition of the Hiemlich Maneauveur on me… then said “oh I’m not strong enough”. To summarise, she hugged me from behind, and as nice as this was in the moment, unsurprisingly I STILL had a pork steak stuck down my throat.
With all priorities in line, in this moment I swiftly turned to Mum and said “can you go and tell Bants that I’m OK?… I’m in the middle of a HouseParty”. Bernie, being the hero that she is, ran to my room, picked up my phone and said “Just to let you all know, Paul has got Pork Steak stuck in his throat”.
After reassuring Bants she returned back to me at the kitchen sink, with Dad still violently slapping my back she said “gosh they spoke awfully quiet” to which I said “Mum, I had my headphones in”. “Oh, that explains it” she responded. And in this moment, although I had other things to focus on, I could tell through Mum's voice and Dad's loving slaps that the parents were at this point genuinely concerned.
My back was a wonderful shade of rouge. And all I could think as I was bent over the kitchen sink was “This is the last thing the NHS need right now… a guy who can’t even eat pork!”.
You will however be relieved to know that this story does have a happy ending. Eventually, from the kitchen sink, I managed to expel the pork steak from my throat via a number of throat expulsions. And as it flew out of my mouth and landed in the sink, Dad compassionately exhaled “how the fuck did you think you were going to swallow that you fool?” as Mum went “Oh, bloody hell Paul”. I am ashamed to admit, I may have put a little bit too much pork steak into my mouth.
I apologetically scooped it up from the sink and then threw the pork steak chunk into the bin. I returned to the HouseParty to find my friends mid trivia quiz. To add to my trauma, I had sadly missed out on a few potential trivia points. After explaining to them the trauma of the moment and after them lovingly ridiculing me I looked at my phone to find a whatsapp message from them saying “you ok?”.
For now… my dear Bants... I AM!
It was an incredibly emotional evening. And in these testing times, I call out to you the people of Great Britannia to say please stay safe… and PLEASE chew all pork based products before swallowing. Thank you for reading.