So here we are in the dog days of August (as I write this), mired in the annual ‘silly season’, even web traffic seems becalmed. With everyone on holiday and nothing in the news, it is becoming ever more difficult to stir up any interest amongst the remaining web surfers for just about anything you post. But what the heck – it’s Summer! My favourite bit of Summer, as it happens. Whilst the annual doldrums that are August can be a bloody irritating time for those of us trying to keep traffic levels up at our sites, (some sites don’t even bother updating during August), the month does have a magical feel to it. Indeed, with these long, lazy golden days of nothing much happening, it is as if normal time has been suspended. The frantic rush to get away on holiday which tends to characterise the earlier Summer months has subsided, and a slower pace of life prevails. You feel like you can take your time about everything. Conversely, of course, the countryside is increasingly dominated by the activities of the harvest. There are times when the month seems never-ending. But not everything about this time of year is great. Whenever the sun comes out it just encourages pillocks to take their shirts off and show us all their beer-bellies. A truly nauseating sight. It really should be banned. The hordes of screaming children getting under your feet everywhere you go is another major Summer irritant – they should ban school holidays at this time of year. Cricket – Britain’s gift to the world of sport. No wonder everybody hates us. Watching paint dry is more entertaining. However, the most unpleasant thing about Summer is undoubtedly the barbecue. Thankfully, my current neighbours have shown no inclination to indulge in these infernal culinary practices. Nevertheless, many a beautiful Summer’s day, in previous years, have been spoiled for me by being subjected to the side-effects of other people’s barbecues. A bit like being subjected to secondary smoking. I recall one particularly unpleasant week when, for several days running, I had my evenings ruined by the foul smell of my neighbour’s barbecue wafting into my house, forcing me to close the windows at the rear of the house during one of the hottest spells of the year. It was like having an elephant farting over my back fence. The bloody awful smell lingered, meaning that even when I went to bed, several hours later, it was still clinging to my bedroom! I kept having nightmares about being burned at the stake!
Why, in God’s name, do the British have such an obsession with the barbecue? Who in their right mind actually wants to sit outside eating meat that has either been burnt to a crisp or is still so raw it tries to run away from you, whilst flies, wasps and other assorted insects buzz around? Frankly, I’m amazed that in this health and safety obsessed era we live in, that garden barbecues are still allowed. Shouldn’t the Food Agency (or whatever they’re called these days) be raiding people’s back gardens every weekend and testing their barbecued meat to check that it has been cooked properly? I live in hope that a wave of food poisoning brought on by under-cooked sausages will sweep away the weekend barbecuers. Mind you, if that doesn’t kill them, surely they’ll all be burned to death as they pour several gallons of petrol on their bloody barbecues to get them started. Indeed, the thick clouds of smoke I used to see pouring across my garden fence every Summer Saturday in years gone by did get my hopes up for a while – I fully expected to see my neighbour and his entire family stagger into my garden ablaze! As they screamed for help, I would politely point out that there was a hosepipe ban in force, so they’d just have to make do with rolling ineffectively on the ground. Sadly, this scenario proved to be no more than a pipe dream: it was only the steaks that ever got incinerated. But why aren’t there more serious accidents involving these death traps? Perhaps there are, but the barbecue industry has paid off the media to keep it quiet… Actually, a couple of years ago I recall the press reporting that two kids had been seriously burned by a back garden barbecue. Apparently witnesses spoke of a ‘mushroom cloud’ of flame rising from the barbecue as petrol was poured on – they were bloody lucky they didn’t look or sound foreign, or the Anti-Terror Squad would have been kicking their doors in accusing them of having Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Anyway, the barbecue wars all came to a head when, one August Bank Holiday weekend, I passed my then neighbour in the street as he returned from town clutching g a fresh bag of charcoal, I nearly broke down and begged him not to use it! Luckily, the weather changed – barbecues don’t seem to work when it is overcast. However, figuring that the cooler weather wouldn’t last forever, I decided to take radical action. Under cover of darkness I broke into next door’s shed and sabotaged their barbecue by sawing through the legs so that it would fall over and spread red hot charcoal all over their feet! Now, when the weather changed, on the Sunday, I was out all day, so I didn’t get to see the consequences of my sabotage. However, when I crept outside that evening and peered over the fence, there was a large scorched patch in the middle of their patio, along with evidence that some of the nearby shrubbery had also been set alight and hastily put out. Significantly, the barbecue wasn’t seen again and they moved shortly afterwards. If you’re having similar barbecue problems, I thoroughly recommend taking similar action. Perhaps instead of sawing through the barbecue’s legs, you could pack the infernal device full of gunpowder so that it explodes when the first steak is added. Of course, if you don’t want to risk injuring you neighbours, you could instead tip off any gangs of animal rights activists you know that your neighbours are going to be having a barbecue – if a bunch of militant vegetarians standing in their back garden waving placards and shouting ‘meat is murder’ doesn’t put them off, nothing will! I know all this sounds a bit extreme, but don’t we have the right to enjoy our Summer weekends without being driven from our gardens and houses by the rank odours and gaseous emissions emanating from our bloody neighbours? But thankfully, I’m currently free of the ‘Stench of Summer’ these days. But it won’t last sooner or later my neighbours will move and, without doubt, I’ll find myself living next door to another bunch of barbecuers. Well, I’ll be ready for them!