All fired up for a summer al fresco

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By madcap inventor John Ward

As I scribble away, one of the initial but usual signs that summer is not far off is the fact the price of the stuff used in vehicles as in petrol and diesel has been steadily creeping up over the past few weeks, based on the fact that the average or other sized motorist likes to go out in warm or tepid weather as opposed to the winter mode when if wise, stays indoors and their motorcycle/car/van/status symbol has to fend for itself.

Yup, summer seems to be the period when things you would never dream of doing at any other time are suddenly unleashed. Summer fadness can range from ‘going out for a drive’ to the humble BBQ in its various modes as requiring charcoal or gas as means to cook/burn/scorch with, but the bad news for those folk trying to save the globe, the solar powered or wind turbine models are still on the, err, ‘back burner’ but in the development stages so far as we can ascertain or for that matter, find out about as well.

The joy of eating alfresco is THE summer thing (for the record, one of my mum’s neighbours thought that Al Fresco was the bloke with the dodgy haircut who worked in the local kebab shop until she was put right that it meant eating outdoors, which does not involve dodgy haircuts, although..) and you can’t beat all that smoke, fumes and people leaning over to say how they want or would like their new line, from the freezer section of their supermarket and currently on offer in a ‘Buy Two for the Price of Three’ mega deal, that is yongi fingers in batter or half a bullock, obtained from the rear end section, cooked or incinerated as desired.

I don’t know if they have picked up in quality and substance these days, but years ago friend Fred and his good lady came to a BBQ we were having and she brought her ‘veggie burgers’ and being told to ‘cook them like normal burglars’, it was after about five minutes I was basically flicking over a mass that was slowly shedding what appeared to be sawdust fragments until in the end I was left with a shrivelled up thing the size of a conker, minus the green outer spiky bits, to place in a bun. But I like to think they may be constructed better nowadays (hopefully..) but I will say the wrapper they came in was quite colourful and perhaps lasted longer.

Next in line for these trendy occasions is somewhere to hold the said spectacle and this can vary from your back garden, patio or the central reservation of the M6 if short term events are your thing and the motorway police remove you but with a strong possibility you will be appearing on ‘Police Motorway Madness’ on the telly any dark winter’s evening and repeated a minimum seventeen times thereafter and till the day you die, thus you will be constantly asked: “Ere? – was that you they moved off in the police van wiv your BBQ? – It is you, innit! – Course you had hair then but it’s you, no getting away from it.. cor, I know a telly star – must tell Brenda when I get home..”

Once your ideal location is sorted out, you will want to be prepared for should things like rain, hail, snow or plagues of locusts descending upon your event and thus you will need a foldaway or ‘easy to erect’ gazebo – gazebo is a foreign word meaning loads of poles with a pile of canvas that go together but with the ‘How to Erect’ instructions written in an oriental language that involves you nipping off to the local take-a-way to get them translated and can end up, if you are unlucky, coming out as “Number 37, with chips, no sauce” – but basically said gazebo is a ‘la-de-da’ form of tent but with more doors or entrances, although if entirely open to the elements, basically a roof on poles or sticks depending on how little you shelled out for it of course.

Once your shelter is taken care of, next comes ‘garden furniture’ and this comes in many different forms and shapes with items made from metal, wrought iron, ‘basket weave’ whatever but comes from sustainable wotever it is, so if ozone friendly seating is your thing and you don’t want to have restless nights losing sleep and fretting over it, opt for the basket weave stuff. Another form of combined seating and partial covering in case of the above elements getting the better of you, then why not go for the Patio Furniture Set which is a table with an hole punched in the middle where you place or shove (usually supplied) a large umbrella or parasol through. These parasols come in assorted colourful patterns or the basic model advertises a brand of lager or wine and is usually sourced after a night out with the lads (allegedly).

These sets cater for many needs as they range from a mere two chairs to enough seating for the fan club of local band “Andy n The Armpits” or if all else fails, buy a few straw bales to seat on but do get the small, traditional oblong ones as opposed to the big ‘roly poly’ or ‘swiss roll’ type otherwise you will need a step ladder to be able to get up and sit on it comfortably.

By now you will be fully kitted out and ready, so is there anything missing? – check the following and tick them off: food, tick – BBQ, tick – gazebo, tick – something to sit on, tick – yup, seems okay.. then it hits you. Whoever it is who will be doing the burning, sorry, cooking will want to wear a silly apron with either a daft picture or design on it or some form of derogatory joke, saying or catch phrase that’s is usually meaningless to those who will see it, or won’t have the slightest clue as to what it is or what it means as it was probably featured (?) on a television programme that was light years ago or on a paid subscription TV channel that nobody else can get as they don’t have the same ‘Gullible as Heck’ package you signed up for.

Silly apron Option Two. Getting one that is mildly offensive, or was, about seven years ago when it was revealed to an unsuspecting world and cost a small fortune then but now available at the local quid shop for, well, a quid or is you haven’t got a quid, a pound will do of course.

Final stage before anyone arrives, get the fire going. After about quarter of an hour, smoke trails up into the atmosphere and can be seen for miles, which is followed by a text message from Chief Sitting Bull of the Apatchy tribe, who lives a few miles away, pointing out that after reading your smoke, if you spread any more malicious gossip about him, he will come over and shove your yongi fingers ‘where the sun don’t shine’ - or for the faint hearted, Manchester as it’s sometimes called.

Right then – must dash as just heard there is a deal on in town selling off cheap some ‘fire damaged stock’ charcoal. Happy burning.