This week in Blighty, we have mostly been experiencing this kind of weather:
We are used to this and treat it much as we would an elderly relative who doesn’t really remember what’s going on any more.
However, it is soon to be Halloween and Bonfire Night – when we want to light huge outdoor fires and play with explosives. Not so much fun in a late autumn downpour. This year, the kids will not be trick or treating because they are holding a ‘Spooktacular’ in the local woods, which is all rather lovely and ever so British. Generally, if you can’t have an event in your home, garden or hired venue, you migrate to the nearest woodland area, it seems to be tradition. Also, it is free. We Brits LOVE free shit.
This is fine if you live, as I do, in a rural area with lots of farmland close to hand, not so great if you live in the Big Smoke. I don’t think Her Madge would be too happy about you setting Guy Fawkes alight on her front lawn.
So, this ‘Spooktacular’ involves the obligatory pyre, pumpkins, mulled wine and cider, games for the little ones, fancy dress etc.
I REALLY hope it doesn’t fucking rain.
One thing you can always count on with British weather, though, is the fact it can change without any notice whatsoever. Today it is rainy and windy, after 1pm today, it may be glorious sunshine and the beach will be crowded with surfer dudes and barbecues. This is how we live – fly by the seat of our pants – with regards to meteorological happenings.
For example: In many countries it is possible to plan a barbecue, outdoor party, al fresco buffet etc at least 2 weeks in advance. You’ve seen the weather forecast and, as today’s weather is good, you know that in a couple of weeks it will be much the same. You don’t need to check BBC online for advance warnings of storm surges.
Not so if you are in the UK.
If the weather is good today, then it is guaranteed to be good for THAT DAY ONLY. Therefore, if you want to have one of these aforementioned soirees you must go to the supermarket and buy EVERYTHING you could possibly need IMMEDIATELY and invite everyone you know over RIGHT AWAY. You will, of course, find some kind of shelter to erect in the garden because, well, you just never know. You rush home, assume battle stations and dust off the barbecue grill – let’s face it, the last time it saw action was over 4 months ago when there was a time frame of 7 hours to get as hammered as possible. People start to arrive too early because they know the window of opportunity closes ridiculously fast. They bring all the remaining food from the previous (probably washed out) dinner. Every available person is put to work to prepare the area and you put on the oven inside, just in case. Alcohol flows freely.
Before long your house is full, your garden is full, the barbecue is smoking but still not hot enough to cook on and you feel a spot of rain.
The garden is quickly rearranged so that the covering is nearer to the grill, trying your best not to smother it completely and smoke everyone in the vicinity. You place it closer to the door of your home too. This is precarious, one inch too close and the house will be full of acrid plumes. Yet still you soldier on. People start laughing and joking – what else can you do when you are British? Some of your guests tut, but nobody outright cusses – we all know the score. Hastily the food is placed on the fire and the smell begins to rise. The delicious, mouthwatering scent of flame grilled, charred sausages and chicken wings.
Smiles appear all round, the atmosphere becomes jolly. Despite the increasing frequency of the raindrops, buns are sliced, onions browned, the mustard and ketchup applied lavishly. Someone is bound to burn themselves with the tongs, that’s a given, but we just don’t care. This feast must be completed no matter the cost.
Then a child starts to sob. And your mother in law chows down on a still bloody drumstick.
Party over, dude.