Monday, 3 September 2012

The dangers of shopping with testicles!

Every year it rains buckets throughout July and August, yet every year everyone says 
“Sure isn’t it terrible, we’ve had no Summer at all, no Summer to speak of at all!”

Well I’m not disappointed, because that was a typical Galway Summer.

Being a pedantic old sod, I was much more irritated by the little sponsorship identitag Avonmore showed before the Summer weather forecast on RTE.

“Add some plant sterols to your daily routine” or somesuch it said, as we were shown a glass of Avonmore Heart Active milk being poured into a bowl of cereal, blueberries, peaches and other fresh fruit.

You’re eating blueberries, peaches and other fresh fruit? So why in the name of all good things in the Universe do you need plant sterols in your milk?

Harrumph and middle aged man’s pathetic little grumble over, I’m looking forward to that reversal of weather we in the West of Ireland enjoy in Spring and Autumn, with high pressure bringing dry easterly winds.

I love those sunny Autumn Galway days, where there’s a nip in the air under clear blue skies and the tourists have all gone home thinking it does nothing but rain in Ireland.

Time to sit in your garden, if you’re lucky enough to have one, and look at the withered plants that once dared to impose colour onto those wet Summer days. So don’t be in a rush to put away your garden furniture.

I’d be sitting on mine, were it not for the misguided generosity of Soldier Boy.

‘Twas years ago, a few days before the Snapper and I were to be married, that Soldier Boy headed out to buy our wedding present. He’d asked, so we said any help with garden furniture would be brilliant. We were living in a terraced house with a tiny patio garden, where a small table and chairs would do the job.

So off he went to B&Q to buy just that. His intentions were more than honourable but he was still physically attached to his testicles, so as soon as he entered the shop his Alpha Male eyes were drawn to exactly where B&Q wanted them: a massive gas barbeque on display, pure cool, with shelves for your kebabs, scrapy area for your scrapy bits, handles for your tools and skewers, hangy hooks for your cold bottles of beer and pepper spray canisters, and an area underneath big enough to store the smoke-infused wood chippings of four giant redwoods. 

Best of all, it had a huge lid with a built-in dial that had a needle that had a Red Zone.
I imagine Soldier Boy coming over all wobbly.
This was a barbeque with a Red Zone.

Man oh man oh man! How could they not want this? 
Wasn’t it the best thing anyone could ever buy anyone for a wedding present?

A few hours later the Snapper came home and jumped out of her skin when she saw two people crouched down in the back garden. To make the best ever barbeque the best ever surprise, Soldier Boy had secretly recruited the Snapper's friend, climbed over our back wall, opened the gate and assembled the barbeque for our delectation and delight.

We all stood back with our hands on our hips and looked at it. The air was roasting from the glowing smile burning off Soldier Boy’s proud face.

“It’s great mate! Massive. Let’s sit down and look at it. Oh we can’t. We’ve got no garden furniture!”

Now we had a vast new barbeque but nowhere to put it where we might not see it. We moved it over to the fence, where after a few weeks it started to become one with the clematis. When it threatened to become more hedge than barbeque, I went back to B&Q and paid 40 quid for its own special made-to-measure plastic cover.

Then a chefly friend of the Snapper asked us he if he could borrow it for his annual summer bash, so off it went to Knocknacarra, where he had to spend 25 quid on an adapter so that it could run off an Irish gas cylinder. Then he had to buy a gas cylinder, and then he cooked up a storm on it, using all the jangles and mangles and blowers and stowers because he’s a chef and knows how to.

He has it still. We don’t need it, but ironically now have a garden big enough to swallow it up and spit it out, as if it were merely an insignificant little pipsqueak of a barbeque.
So that friends and family visiting for the wedding might sit somewhere, the Snapper and I nipped off yet again to the dreaded B&Q and bought a table and four chairs for the patio. 
The set proved perfect, so of course, years later, we bought it with us the day we moved house.

Solider Boy arrived to help early that day, eager and happy to start shifting all our stuff, for which I was truly grateful.

In fact so great was his spirit and enthusiasm that I still smiled and never said a word as I saw him unload the garden table out of the back of the van, and slam it onto the gravel of our new driveway. I smiled even as I watched the fittings and rivets fly off the table into the distance, knowing that he had no idea the table was truly broken.

A small strangely poetic part of my soul saw the irony in it; thought it was funny. I waited a long time (in truth - until I needed to have one over on him!) to tell Soldier Boy that while he’d acted with generosity in his soul, thanks to his unique efforts, we now had neither a table nor a barbeque.

Enjoy the sunshine when it comes. I’ll be lying on the grass.

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