Monday, April 11, 2011

What's that at the end of the garden?

Every year, at about this time, The Wife looks to the skies in that endearingly decisive way of hers and declares "Isn't it lovely outside!" (note absence of question mark) "Let's have a barbecue!" To which my instinctive response is always "Don't be ridiculous! What do you think it is, Summer? We haven't even had Easter yet and you're suggesting we all get our shorts on and make like it's July! Come to your senses woman! What is it about people round here that at the first glimpse of Sunshine they feel compelled to throw off their garments and charge outside to cavort on still-dewy grass? Why don't we just go the whole hog and head down to the beach with a bucket and spade?"

I have never been barbecue's biggest fan. I admit that in certain social settings, large gatherings where good cheer and conversation flow like (and possibly because of) red wine, a barbecue can be a great addition to proceedings. But on a smaller, family scale, it seems to almost more effort than it is worth. I am, if not a lazy sod, certainly a person for whom convenience has considerable appeal. I realise that this is not very alpha-male of me, and that as a bloke I am meant to see the barbecue as some kind of primal link to our hunter-gatherer heritage and a chance to cast off the shackles of conventional domesticity and once again cook the spoils of bloody sport (or in this case, a trip to Sainsbury's which can be equally scary especially if The Wife is involved). Although (as those that know me will be aware) I make no claim to alpha-masculinity, this is a source of regret. I would love to be an outdoors person, I really would - indeed, I am a big fan of getting outside if I have somewhere to get to. But al fresco dining has never grabbed me. The food gets cold and there are wasps.

Now you don't get through nearly a decade of marital bliss without having some degree of control over your baser instincts, so obviously this is not the response I come out with. With feigned enthusiasm I nod my head and make my weary way to the garden shed, there to rummage and dig amongst a Winter's worth of bric-a-brac until I locate the barbecue gas cylinder and assorted bits and bobs we need for a really splendid feast.

Yes, you read that correctly - gas cylinder. I am ashamed to admit that we decided to purchase a gas barbecue after several years of frustration as the gale that habitually blew through the garden of our old house extinguished a succession of matches before eventually the charcoal furnace of our former barbie would catch alight. So instead of rushing down the the local petrol station to get a bag of charcoal, we have an alarming-looking green cannister of propane gas which has to be connected with a bit of rubber tubing that was surely stolen from a secondary school science lab. It does detract somewhat from the old-school elemental appeal.

Of course, I can never remember how it works. After poking and prodding various switches and knobs for a short while, I am forced to go in supplication to The Wife, who with much tutting and grumbling about my lack of technical know-how, gets it going with insulting ease. Various meaty foodstuffs are duly produced and cooked, and consumed, while the pieces de resistance, barbecued bananas, are slowly baked within their skins. Then, as the wasps descend, it is time to retreat, laden with dirty plates, to the kitchen, to try to hack bits of burnt-on food from the griddle, or lose finernails in the attempt.

It is a meal that takes twice as long to prepare as to eat, and three times as long to clear up. Can someone please explain to me why this is held to be a relaxing way to spend a Sunday?


At 12:23 AM GMT+1 , Blogger Avery Smithkin said...

I've been reading through your blog and, based upon what I've read and enjoyed here, I believe I'm going to add the subject "being married" to the list of subjects on which I write. I'm also going to list your blog as one I'm following. I hope you get a chance to write more often. We seem to share some similar thoughts.


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