The RV, the barbecue and the cook part 2
Part 1 here.
Believing the lawn was simply too soft for the heavy 12-tonne rig, Mervin engaged low-range four-wheel drive. Remarkably, the water pipe held and the rig dug ever deeper, grinding through the couch lawn before coming to rest, probably on the chassis and various fuel and water tanks. In that one moment Mervin made Grey Nomad history, he had bogged the thing on his front lawn and it was now about a half metre lower than the house—hence large mud dollops everywhere!
Not one bit daunted, Mervin had a plan—the recovery winch. The winch had a remote control and when he saw the cable still hitched to the water pipe acting as a giant zipper opening the garden he put the chain around something more sturdy—the pine tree. As seen on those off-road 4X4 TV shows, the driver juggles vehicle power and winch via the remote. The onlookers now scattered lest the cable snap and decapitate a spectator or two.
All four wheels were slowly turning but the rig moved not. Mervin was visibly distraught as he suddenly appeared in front of the rig with his winch remote—the wheels turning on fast idle with nobody at the wheel. The winch laboured under the load but the truck remained obstinate. Not so with the pine tree. There came a wicked sound of cracking wood and snapping roots and in a split second the tree was ripped free, pitched forward on the rig smashing the solar panels. The wheels still turning to no avail. But Mervin had other fish to fry—his community barbecue later that afternoon.
It was soon near 5pm and guests, obviously well versed in neighbourhood freeloading, were arriving with their fold-up chairs and Eskies full of grog. It was time to light the new barbecue. As with most retirees, they eat earlier, reflux, flatulence and that sort of thing you know. Mervin’s raconteur act dragged on and the players were getting hungry. The booze worked its magic. More than an hour downing the rather potent sangria and frosty jugs of home-brewed, extra-strength beer compliments of the host—alcohol content unknown, sorted the novices. Mervin led a surprise chug-a-lug charge which induced a worrisome personality change—bulging eyes and white spittle.
But Mervin was a BBQ purist who scoffed at his new, gas barbecue—“it wouldn’t handle the load, not enough heat,” he declared and in a moment, from behind the garage came his 44-gallon drum, cut in half with drooping chicken wire spread across. “It’s better regulated,” he swore—and swear he did, loudly in the ensuing performance, the women now wide-eyed.
“Bringing the coals to perfect point is paramount,” lectured the high priest of charcoal while dumping a large bag of briquettes through a hole in the mesh while applying a liberal dose of lighter fluid, which, I suspect was lawnmower fuel with excessive oil in it. Everyone stood watching, wondering what was next. A second soaking and a lit match sent a lethargic flame ambling across the briquettes, crawling up the side of the drum in slow motion and down the outside in fiery drops landing in a puddle beneath. Mesmerised by such oddity, in silence we watched.
The hypnotic flame grew slowly at first and then to a fierce orange streak equalling man’s height, billowing black smoke and threatening the tree above. “The coals must be white,” trumpeted our chef as he danced about and everyone took larges swigs of their grog. Meanwhile, flies were gorging heartily on the awaiting feast as guests passed from tiddly to tottery with Mervin leading the gang, exhorting wimps to, “bottoms up.”
To be continued.