Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
When an Aussie invites you round for a barbie, they’re not talking Mattel products. They’re talking barbecues.
We don’t just fire them up in summer, you know. We use them all the year round and let me tell you there is nothing more interesting than standing beside the warmth of a four-burner on a freezing winter evening.
I have my own apron. I have my own recipes. I have my own way to sear and slow-cook succulent steaks. Friends and family have been known to give me barbecue tools for my birthday. I even have a silver-topped, velvet-lined attaché case with more implements than a heart surgeon could possibly use in the course of performing a triple bypass.
Our first barbecue made its appearance, amid much excitement, in 1993. I put a lot of mileage on it. And I mean, a lot of mileage. Midway through, I gave it a new coat of paint and generally spruced it up. But because it sat in our back yard, it was subject to the vagaries of the harsh Australian weather.
So last year, Mrs Authorblog asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Immediately, like Saul on the road to Damascus, I had a vision. My vision was a 300mm lens for my camera. Mrs Authorblog got that steely look in her eye. She said she thought I needed a new barbecue.
See, that’s my weak point. I never throw anything out until it collapses in a heap. Until then, it is regarded by me as entirely serviceable. My old barbecue was functioning perfectly. I did not want a new one. I didn’t even need a new one. But in my heart of hearts, I knew the 1993 model was well past its use-by date.
So my wife found me the absolute Rolls-Royce of barbecues. We paid for it and then asked when they could assemble it and deliver it. Slight problem. They didn’t assemble. And they didn’t deliver.
The pressure was squarely on me. I drove the (big) Authorblogmobile round to the store’s loading bay. I’ve got a huge boot, but it just wasn’t wide enough for the new purchase. We tried getting it into the back seat, where there was more than enough cubic metreage to fit it in, but the doors wouldn’t open wide enough.
I had no option but to hire a trailer and stick the load in there. But Mrs Authorblog was in charge of the Crisis Management Taskforce. Her eagle eye had detected the fact that her car needed to be driven to the store.
Why would that be, I asked.
"Because," she replied, "the doors on my imported car open wider than the doors on the Authorblogmobile."
I’ll just cut a long story short to say she was right. There was no levering required. The doors opened beckoningly and the barbecue was patted neatly into the back seat.
So far, so good. The Crisis Management Taskforce was in fine fettle. But who was going to assemble this hulking mammoth?
That’s why our good friend Louis, the resident Good Samaritan, appeared. He gave up a whole Sunday afternoon, rocking up with more gear than the Six Million Dollar Man. He studied the manual, he put out the parts, he sorted the washers and he put aside the nuts - myself included.
Then he put the whole darn thing together in much the same manner that they build Boeings in Seattle. Swiftly.
Me? I finally plucked up enough courage to do one simple, give-it-to-the-village-idiot task. Louis asked me to put the handles on the doors to the storage compartment. It took me half an hour. And one handle (I kid you not) was upside down.
For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.