Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Annual Charity Barbecue

Close by the entrance
and the ticket seller,
men in aprons deftly wield skewers,
long-handled forks and spatulas,
behind a row of well-used charcoal barbecues.

Tortured sausages, slabs of bacon and shrivelled burgers
are on offer,
we paid for them
so we accept the offer
with a smile and graceful thanks.

There’s more to come.
There’s plain boiled rice,
green salad and potatoes,
tomatos, onions, bread rolls too;
and here’s a splash of colour,
a bowl of couscous mixed
with peppers, beans and celery,
which empties fast.

The day is bright and sunny,
plastic tables and random chairs
huddle under awnings, just in case,
but there are those who trust in luck
and move their table out into the sun.

Two members of the clergy guard the wine,
one pound per glass of red or white
and cheap at twice the price.
Yet no one dares to ask for more than two at most.

The gossip flows,
good-natured tales are told
and absences of long-term friends regretted.

“I would have thought she’d be here”,
“what can have stopped them coming?”

“They’ve changed the day, that’s why.
It’s never been the same as when Joyce did the honours.
She made it with her laughter and huge heart.”

It’s true, too many of the old guard
have been lost to age and death.

Who will be here next year?”
“I hear that Bob’s not doing well."

 But all in all: “it was a good day,
the takings are respectable.
The best thing is,
we’re all agreed,

"The weather did us proud."


  1. This is wonderful, Ursula. I feel like I was there, trying to figure out how to wrangle a 3rd glass of wine without looking bad.

  2. Hallo Friko,
    sieht doch genauso gemütlich wie in Deutschland aus !?!? Grillen läuft wahrscheinlich in England genauso ab: also Würstchen, Fleisch, Saußen und jede Menge Salate. Dazu ein leckeres Bier oder ein leckerer Tropfen Wein (englisches Bier kenne ich nicht; Wein dürfte wohl importiert sein).

    Gruß Dieter

  3. The garden looks beautiful, and the whole event seems to have been a rather cheerful occasion, no doubt owing much to the good weather.

  4. And you write wonderful poetry - I enjoyed a virtual journey through your day too

  5. The wine-seller on the right looks exactly like an English clergyman! How wonderful.
    I'm sure you paid more for the trial of eating them than those burgers deserved, but people will go a long way for charity. A barbecue sounds more civilized than a 5-or-10-kilometre run, which is the favourite charity even in North America.

  6. You have captured the scene brilliantly. So familiar. And I love the 'tortured sausages'. That is so right.

  7. ha. the clergy guarding the vino...now that is pretty funny ...i rather like the sound of all that food...mmm....and hey if its for charity that is a good thing right...have a little fun and help out...sounds fun to me...glad you had nice weather...

  8. Sounds fun to me...particularly without any heavy rainfall.

    Friko, perhaps I will some day able to try one of those burgers, or even treat you (and me) to a third glass of that wine.

    (Did you get my email?)


  9. I loved this - the first stanza triggered a long,long forgotten shred of "the little lame balloon man whistles far and wee" (In Just by e.e. cummings) which I admit to looking up. A delightful post. Thanks.

  10. They should have someone more jolly and less religious serve the wine next time so more will be sold of it. Or were they afraid someone else was going to take off with the cash?

    A slab of bacon on the BBQ sounds just right to me and I think I will try that next when I am invited to one. I will make sure it is properly spiced and marinated. Gosh, that does sound good.

  11. I've been to two garden parties at Lambeth Palace...one sort of of official, one a parish event.

    At the first the wine was good and was circulated by people bearing trays...it flowed like glue as the PC were present....idiots.

    At the second the deacons were in charge of the wine and it went out like the tide once we were counselled to go home by bus...complete with timetable advice.

    No barbecue at either thank goodness.

  12. I love to read your village posts now that I can imagine the setting, and - perhaps - some of the characters!

  13. This reminds me of annual summer church potlucks. Almost down to the exact conversations! Thanks for the memories.

  14. Your first two photos are exactly the same as how I imagine an English country garden "do" to be like. I'd love to meet the person who suggested the clergy should sell the wine - too funny!

  15. What a beautiful capture - photos and prose. Thank you so much.

  16. PS Have you seen the Blog Verbatim - where people post snippets of prose (found anywhere at all) that read like poetry. It's fascinating, there is a link on my page. I would love to put this post on.

  17. Eternal as a Constable.

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral
    ~ > < } } ( ° > <3

  18. 'Tortured sausages' - wonderful!

  19. This is priceless and it reflects every single like gathering in the world, apart from the currency denomination for the wine! And yet, they are fun.

  20. it's sad to see a small community aging and not being refreshed with the younger set. perhaps after they have made their way in the world they will see the value of the small community and return.

  21. Ah well , át least there wasn't a washbowl full of macaroni salad .

  22. Lovely. All of it. Simply lovely.

  23. dat ziet er heel gezellig uit.

  24. This was like reading the kind of charming little book I love best. You brought us right into the picture!

    So glad the weather was good for you.


  25. Takings are respectable & the weather turned out well. More than you get at many outings. No one dares ask for more than 2(wine)? Very different around these parts.

  26. I loved this post! Made me feel like I was right there sitting and gossiping and eating and enjoying the sunshine. :)

  27. Community get-togethers, small towns, people passing on as each annual event comes round. Ah and of course none of it would be quite right without "tortured sausages".
    (I've tweaked my settings and hopefully access will not be difficult any longer, but no I hadn't gone private - just blogger being difficult)

  28. Oh, lovely post capturing the rhythm of village life in the UK.

  29. How beautifully you have painted the day for us! Everything looks so bright and charming under the country sun.

  30. Thanks for the book tips. After my cataract surgery, I hope to do more fun reading. The books on the Roman dectective look interesting.

    We're having a barb-b-que today too. Lots of celebration for the 4th.


  31. A lighthearted "slice of life" in an English village. Love the idea of the clergy guarding the wine!

  32. I'd like the company, if not the food!

  33. DEar Friko, the day sounds lovely with food and wine and friends beside you in the garden bowers. Peace.

  34. Thanks goodness the sun shone for you and you didn't have to decamp indoors. This reads beautifully, as others have said. A poem in praise of human kindness.

    PS I've done my stint of wine-selling at parish events, complete with clerical collar. :-)

  35. I love how you wrote this. Everything flows and you almost feel like you are there. Thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful pictures.

    from Jazy Smith at Split Site PhD


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.