It?s that time of year again, say the neighbours as the familiar clouds of smoke start wafting over the fences, withering their wisterias and leaving a thick black charcoal coating all over their freshly power-washed patios.
Dave at number 15 thinks he?s hot stuff with a pair of barbecue tongs and throws barbecues every weekend to prove it. The problem is that Dave is a health hazard in a novelty apron. Friends aand neighbours unlucky enough to get an invitation to one of Dave?s barbecues frantically scrabble round for prior engagements, just knowing that they?ll turn up with a bottle of Pinot Grigio and leave with a nasty case of listeria.
Poor Dave. Despite splashing out on a brand new Weber, he just can?t seem to get the whole barbecuing thing right. He takes the phrase ?flame-grilled? quite literally, and turns his barbecue up to max. The flames are so high that the meat just gets flambéed – nuked on the outside but still glisteningly pink on the inside. You?d have thought he?d have learnt his lesson after setting fire to the conservatory curtains at one unforgettable barbecue, but no ? Dave with his can in one hand, and barbecue tongs in the other, thinks he?s the barbecue expert. ?Here, have another one? he beams enthusiastically as he presses another sausage à la salmonella into your hand. He?s so keen for everyone to try his chicken wings and sticky spare ribs that he forgets to make sure they?re properly cooked all the way through. Even the non-carnivores don?t escape. Dave likes to give the potato salad a good stir with the barbecue tongs before he hands it round ? the same tongs he just put a couple of chicken legs onto the barbecue with.
Remember that salmonella epidemic last year? It all got blamed on some dodgy sandwiches, but the truth was that the people who started it all off had been to a barbecue at Dave?s the night before. Accident & Emergency have started to get wise to Dave and his deadly cuisine now. If you?re from St Peter and you go in with food poisoning, they?ll ask if you?ve been to any local barbecues recently. Particularly any held at number 15 Bay Tree Gardens. Some witty doctor?s even coined a name for it ? Barbecue Syndrome.
Not all people try and avoid Dave?s barbecues ? one neighbour has been known to schedule important events for a couple of days after a salmonella special. A few underdone burgers later and she?s guaranteed a flat stomach for the next few days?.
Tonight?s going to be a good one, chuckle the residents of Bay Tree Gardens. The barbecue?s been going for a while now, and the whole road watches from behind their net curtains as the new neighbours arrive, pink-cheeked and unsuspecting, to their welcoming barbecue. ?Like lambs to the slaughter? mutters Peter at number 12 as he takes Winston for his evening walk. ?Lamb burgers did you say??? adds Mrs M from number 23 with an evil cackle.