Just a barbecue

Ok. We all know that authors tend to be slightly soiled folks who shouldn’t be allowed out on their own, and who under no circumstances should be allowed any money of their own, in case they get themselves into all sorts of trouble, but this one wasn’t my fault.

You see, I was a little tired.

Sunday morning we had a fairly heavy Morris practice. It was the last one before next weekend, when we have to dance in Exeter in support of the Dragon Races. Should be very good. But as I wandered home, I was a little tired. And very hot. It had been extremely humid.

So, when I got home, I went and had a shower, and was keen to get a beer. But, and it was a large but, I had forgotten that we were going to have some friends round. So there was tidying up to be done in the yard, the little barbecue to light for the lamb joint, and the big gas one for the assorted sausages and burgers.

I managed well. For a couple of hours I subsisted on mixed non-alcoholic beverages, while dicing onions to make burgers, lighting the burners, helping lay the table and perform all those other little duties menfolk find themselves instructed to complete. But then, fortunately, there was time to rest. So I hurried to another task: I mixed two half pints of Pimms. And God, were they good. I think.

Unfortunately, as soon as I lifted it to my lips, our first guests arrived. being a seriously gentlemanly chap, I proffered my glass, and gritted my teeth with a smile as it was snatched from my hand.

I returned to fetch another. I had it ready when guest two arrived. Three women, three glasses of Pimms, and not much left in the bottle. The tide, as Rumpole would have said, was swiftly going out. Urgent measures were required. I went to the gin bottle and soon I was sipping a cooling G&T.

The meat went on. The levels dropped in the glasses. More ice and drinks were served. The kids began to make a lot of noise, but not quite so much as the three women around the table with their second glasses. When we got to the third Pimms, they were quite voluble. Luckily that was the end of the Pimms, and the bottle of pink fizzy wine was opened. I wasn’t offered this – such nectar is not for mere authors, of course – but I was content to open a small beer. It was cold, it was tasty, and it appeared to evaporate. I had to grasp a second.

Before long, fortunately, our food was ready. Burgers and sausages mainly for the children, slices of roasted lamb for the adults. Very tasty, especially with the fresh spuds and the salad. And washed down with some more beer. The second bottle of fizz had already gone by now, and the women were forced, poor darlings, to make do with flat pink wine. I opened another beer.

Now, for all this time, we had kept the dogs well away. You don’t want hounds sitting and staring longingly at you while you eat, dribbling gently as they gaze at your plate.

It sort of takes some of the pleasure away.

So, all being quiet and relaxed, my wife, very sensibly, because with the wine bottles stacking up, there wasn’t all that much space on the table, took the carving board with the lamb on it over to another table. And then we all got stuck into our very necessary, cooling, drinks. I don’t think we quite got round to a discussion about the latest medical advice on drinking for the elderly. Apparently, any more than a half pint of beer a day is too deadly for words. Luckily, none of us was exactly elderly, so that was all right.

Now, you have the scene fixed, I hope, in your mind. There we were. Four moderately mature adults, and a table loaded with empty – no, I was going to say plates, not bottles, but you can think what you like. On the table behind me was the second table with little on it. Only a joint of meat.

And then someone went inside to the toilet.

When you are a small person, of perhaps four feet in height, weighing about four stone or probably less, it is hard to live with a Rhodesian Ridgeback. When you come downstairs, you are confronted with a hound who is your own height, and when said hound places a paw on your head to keep you there so that she can demonstrate her affection by cleaning your recently washed face, it can tend to spoil your day. After four years of living with this canine tyranny, even a strong-willed lad can grow resentful.

A hound like a Ridgie also grows resentful when she feels, justifiably perhaps, that with lots of friends there, she ought to be allowed to join in the fun. Especially when she reckons her own supper has been delayed.

So when my boy opened the door, to be faced with a willing and eager Ridgie, his first reaction was to squeeze his small frame against the door as the monster hurtled through the gap. Sensible, in my view.

Let me say here, that the risks of a wandering Ridgie are well known to me, and even when I had imbibed quite freely, I was not so foolish as to think that food would be safe. I was up and ready for battle in, well, in a short time.

However, the best special forces operatives don’t appear in front of the enemy lines waving and gesticulating. They are sly. They are subtle. They infiltrate, they sidle, they are inconspicuous. They don’t go bowling up to tables with a slightly frantic expression of eager welcome on their faces.

You see, I don’t only have a Ridgie. I also have a sweet, innocent Bernese. Lumbering, slow, slightly, perhaps, dim, but delightful, affectionate, and gentle. She is a beautiful lady, my Berner. And not, let me say, a thief. Not like a

But a Berner who has been forced to live under the tyranny of a Ridgeback for four years, will turn. After years of seeing every crumb that fell on the floor snaffled under her nose, after seeing the treats tossed towards her snatched in mid-air by a flying Ridgie, after being barged out of the way when a stray chip tumbled to the ground, she couldn’t help herself.
Previously of unblemished character, with an impeccable record of standing back and looking on with appalled shock as the Ridgie ate half a five-year-old’s birthday cake, she finally turned. The impulse to emulate the criminal activities of a hound were just too strong.

There was a rattling noise behind me. I turned, only to meet the wide, anxious gaze of a Berner with a half-shoulder of lamb in her mouth as she tried to unostentatiously make her way indoors.

She tried to explain, I know. But it is hard to plead your case with a gobful of lamb.

No, she wasn’t smacked. But for the rest of the night she was left to mull over her crime in solitude.

Well, apart from the companionship of the Ridgie, who kept licking her clean.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

One Response to “Just a barbecue”
  1. Love this article. I also have had dogs – the super sensitive type that cringed when I caught him catching a rabbit – she sulked all day because I yelled at her- to the completely insensitive type that couldn’t care less what I thought – it was all about him (my current dog – a yorkie).

    Keep up the blogs


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