WITHOUT wanting to sound melodramatic or morbid, there’s something about being a grandad, and passing the 60-mark, that makes the prospect of death harder to swallow.

  • What wishes are on my bucket-list?
  • How long have I got left to fit them in?
  • How will the end come?

    I confess these are all questions that have been crossing my mind more frequently of late as what’s left of my hair turns white and retirement beckons.

But it never occurred to me that I might be killed by a Midget Gem…

My 91-year-old mum, who still thinks of me as her little boy, likes to buy me bags of Midget Gems because she knows how much I’ve always loved them. Mind you, I insist on the real ones – the originals that are hard and a challenge to chew.

On what might easily have turned out to be my last day on this planet, I’d driven to her house to collect her for Sunday lunch and was promptly presented with the latest bag of Midget Gems.

I know I shouldn’t have been eating sweets before lunch, but I couldn’t resist picking out a black one – my favourite flavour – and scoffing it. However, gluttony is one of the deadly sins and, because I failed to chew it properly, it got stuck in my throat.

In fact, it fully blocked my windpipe and, as panic set in, I ran into the kitchen where my Mum was making a cup of tea. I was making a horrible rasping noise, desperately pointing to my throat, and starting to feel dizzy.

It’s too much to expect a 91-year-old woman to do the Heimlich Maneuver, and I feared I might drown if I drank water. “Call an ambulance or get a neighbour,” I wanted to shout, but no words would come out.

Instead, sensing that time was swiftly running out, I instinctively bent double over a chair, and half of the Midget Gem came back into my mouth. I was able to swallow the remaining half and, mercifully, breathe again.

The purpose of writing this latest chapter of Grandad At Large is not to make light of what happened, but for it to be a warning. A Midget Gem may be small, but it was enough to stop me breathing, and I honestly think I could easily have died.

It just happened to be a Midget Gem but it might easily have been another sweet.

According to the latest available figures, more than 3,000 people died from choking, in this country, in 2020. More than half of them were aged 74-plus, but it can happen to anyone, so please be careful, no matter what you’re eating.

I’m now having Midget Gem nightmares, waking up in a panic that I can’t breathe. My mum, who was reduced to tears by it all, has thrown the rest of the bag away, and vowed not to buy anymore.

It may have been a lifelong love, but I’ve had my last Midget Gem.


FROM dying to dyeing…

While she was off school for six weeks during the summer holidays, our six-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, wanted to take the opportunity to have a red streak put into her hair.

She quietly persuaded her Dad to help her achieve the new look without her Mum knowing.

“Do you think Mum’s going to kill us?” he asked as he applied the temporary dye.

“Well, I think she’s going to kill you!” she replied.