LUV - This summer, barbecues are going to be brilliant. Listen. Stop looking at me like that. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, I used to be a VEGETARIAN.
Do you know how hard it is to be a vegetarian at a barbecue? To turn up to some stranger’s house and have everything go quiet until finally someone sighs and says “Barry, get the salad” as you try to disappear into the bunting? Because who even HAS a barbecue anymore? Not real people. Only the cousin of your boyfriend’s boss’s wife’s ex-flatmate from their BRILLIANT RADA DAYS DO YOU REMEMBER ANNA. And everyone’s wearing Boden and all the garden furniture is teak, all the women have crinkly cleavages, and all the men are called Keith and keep topping up your Pimms even though it tastes of evil and cucumbers, and when you tell them your name they all say HO HO THE VEGETARIAN EH, then someone in a Cath Kidston apron hands you a plate containing a blackened Quorn burger, a slice of quiche hauled from the Freezer Drawer of Ancient Forgotten Food, fucking roasted fucking vegetables on fucking ciabatta and, absolutely without exception, squashed wasp salad.
But those days are behind me now, because now I am an OMNIVORE and I have a BALCONY.
I’m going to do barbecues RIGHT this year. First of all I’m going to hold mine in FEBRUARY, because I’ve studied you outdoorsy meat eaters and unbridled optimism in the face of an approaching cold front is apparently the way to go. Then I will buy all the meat in the world and one of those shitty tinfoil throwaway barbecues from a petrol station even though I know the end result will be like trying to roast an elephant over a tea light, but I figure I’ll be wearing a KISS THE COOK apron so it’ll be okay. Next I will fill the balcony with toxic black smoke so that the neighbours complain, the firemen are called but, most importantly - the guests will be herded together in uncomfortable proximity so they have to make falsely jolly, stilted conversation about the weather. Which will then TURN. Rain will lash the balcony and dilute everyone’s Pimms and we’ll all be forced inside to play Wii Tennis and microwave all the meat instead, and my flat will start to smell like Gunther von Hagens’ laboratory. Finally everyone will erupt with bacterial norovirus and my flat will start to smell like Gunther von Hagens’ toilet, and that’s when I’ll know I’m doing barbecues like a normal.
I can’t wait.
- Robyn Wilder
HAT - Oh, you poor idiots. It might be May, but that doesn’t mean that it’s summer. Just because it hasn’t rained for a nanosecond and there’s a hat-wearing mannequin doing a thumbs-up in a manky yellow T-shirt in the window of River Island, it doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to wear sandals yet. Or sunglasses. And it definitely means you’re not allowed to have a fucking barbecue.
It especially means that you’re not allowed to have a barbecue. It means that you’re not allowed to have a barbecue ever. Because, look, it’s 2012. We don’t need to cook burgers outside any more. We can cook them indoors now. We can go and buy them ready-cooked. We can travel to Japan and make little tiny ones out of POWDER. Why would I ever want to go and cook them outside? I work from home. Outside scares me and, besides, it’d mean putting a pair of pants on. No thank you.
Oh sure, barbecues might lull you in by smelling nice, but that’s no guarantee of anything. Popcorn smells nice, but it tastes like plastic foam. The scalp of a newborn baby apparently smells wonderful, but everyone knows that babies grow up to be criminals and murderers and abhorrently selfish lovers. And this is just as true of the barbecue. It might smell vaguely appealing when it wafts in on a warm breeze from a distance, but that’s only because you can’t see the torrent of abject fucking misery that it’s causing everyone.
You can’t see how red-eyed and squinty everyone is from the giant cloud of smoke that keeps following them around. You can’t hear all the stilted smalltalk they all have to endure because there isn’t a telly for them to watch. You can’t see everyone rush inside to find a coat or a blanket or a rug or some bubble wrap or anything, because the sun’s gone behind a cloud and it’s become legitimately freezing. You can’t see people struggling to mask their dismay at the blackened, inedible, osmium-dense 5p-sized puck of a burger that they’ve balanced in the middle of a bun as big as a dinner plate. You can’t see them praying that they won’t contract salmonella after every single bite of a chicken leg that doesn’t feel quite warm enough in the middle. And, most importantly, you can’t see ALL THE FUCKING WASPS.
So if you’re planning a barbecue for the coming months, good luck. You deserve everything you’ll get - which includes but is not limited to pneumonia, smoke inhalation, boredom-induced catatonia, hunger, stomach cramps, whatever that thing is where you drink too much room-temperature supermarket own brand lager and then can only taste rusty metal for the rest of the day and an endless, chronic, exhausting, week-long, bout of uncontrollable spurting double-ended, red-hot liquid food poisoning.
No, you’re welcome.