BBQ Madness

Yesterday, on the third attempt, I went to a successful barbecue at one of my clients.

I have been to two others in the past, but the first was freezing cold, and the second contained so much rain that most of the cooking was done indoors.

As a vegetarian, barbecues are a nightmare. In fact, at most barbecues I don’t eat anything. Maybe I’ll have some of the salad on offer, but in order to do so I have to make sure I get started quickly. The risk of cross-contamination is too great…

Yesterday, I think I got away with it, but it’s always close. Really, I just shouldn’t chance it at all. My veggie burgers got cooked first, and with separate utensils, but there is always the danger of fat spitting. The thought of eating anything remotely meaty knocks me sick these days, having been a veggie for what must be around 15 years now.

What made it all so successful though was the weather. The weather has been stunning now for over a week. Everyone has noted how weird the weather has been, and continues to be these days. January mild, then snow. February, freezing cold. March, unbeliveably warm. April, ridiculous cold and wet. May, exactly the same, and then suddenly in the last six days, a wild swing into Mediterranean warmth.

So I got to sit for nearly eight hours out in the sunshine, eating, drinking, socialising… although the socialising was a little difficult as I don’t know many people there. But I did get to complete one of my life’s ambitions by riding a spacehopper. Oh yeah. And yes, I did put on lots of sun tan lotion. So glad I did, because the only bit of me where I kind of didn’t reach – the top of my forehead where the hair is a little bit thin – is a bit red this morning. The rest of me is fine.

It’s nice to do something different like that. I should try and get out and do more things, but it won’t happen without friends, and as I’ve noted many times now, friends are pretty hard to come by in my line of work. People only want to see you when it’s convenient for them. And it’s all very professional…

One unexpected negative of the BBQ though was the presence of local children. Not that there’s anything negative about children per se, but local children in the place I go to means something. They are pretty mean, let’s just say. They think nothing of using their fists and kicking you if you try to wind them up or torment them. Which is inevitable when the day involves water, a paddling pool, a spacehopper and a game invented by one of the parents that involved collecting one of literally hundreds of those colourful small plastic balls you find in most paddling pools…

So I got kicked and punched twice for daring to hide one of the balls in my back pocket so I could influence the game. They take no prisoners. Being a military area, there is no real surprise in that. But it makes you wonder what kind of violence they’ve seen at home. They just go straight for you.

Of course, the presence of water also meant that everyone got drenched. Including me… when someone chucked a whole kitchen sink full of it at me. It was also icy cold, as it was the water from the ice buckets that were keeping the beers cool! I knew it was coming, it was a matter of time as I heard some conspiring going on. But what annoyed me was that when it actually happened, I didn’t expect it at all, even though I was trying to be on my guard. Just goes to show how easy it is to let your attention slip…

Still, it’s Sunday… I’ve been up since 6:30am due to being unable to sleep any more, and I have work to do. Both professional and domestic. And the sun’s shining. Bah.

Happy Birthday – My Guitar

I haven’t written for a while, possibly because I’m just completely drained and utterly fed up with life at the moment, but I will make an exception for a recent notable event.

Two days ago my guitar became 10 years old. 10 years that have rattled by in the blink of an eye. I wouldn’t normally celebrate the anniversary of an inanimate object, but this particular one has some significance to me.

It was my first ever high quality musical instrument. The previous guitar I had was just something cheap from Argos, picked especially because I just wanted something to learn on. My shiny new one, in 2002, cost me about £250… and has brought many years of enjoyment.

I am glad that I bothered, because it gave me a proper hobby for a change. Up until that point, when people asked about my hobbies, they invariably involved computers. A dull, dreary thing. Of course, now everyone is using computers, that one is no longer seen as unusual, but the guitar was away from the computer world, and it finally allowed me to pursue the interest I’d had in music for my whole life, but never had the ability or the knowledge to do anything about it.

The guitar got me to the USA. In 2005, as chronicled on this blog, I visited a summer camp in Colorado with this very instrument. It enabled me to entertain, and probably irritate, a number of people for nearly three months. If I’d not taken up music to that level, I would never have got the job I did – which was all about entertainment – and consequently probably not actually went to America, where I had the best time of my life, and continue to regret to this day that I never repeated it.

But what it hasn’t brought me is any kind of development from there. I often toyed with the idea of being in a band, and made several attempts, all of which failed. I wrote my own music, 95% of which is trash, and the rest is good, but probably only to me. I always thought if only I could turn my attention to it and get the right breaks I might have some sort of sideline, at least, in the music world. It didn’t happen, primarily because I just don’t have the talent. Now I can only sit and enjoy, though quietly enviously, the likes of Ed Sheeran.

I still don’t play anywhere near as well as I’d like to. After 10 years, I thought I might be a bit better than I actually am, but unfortunately time and, dare I say it, a lack of inclination in recent years, has put paid to any further improvements. I look back at my youngest brother, who is learning and doing really well, and see myself in his situation. It’s all so much easier when you have more time and don’t feel guilty about using it. When you’re grown up and boring like me, you can get into the horrible mindset of thinking “I could be doing something more productive than this”. I’m getting better at unlearning that, but being self-employed I think I am in a different situation to the majority of people…

But through all that time my guitar has been a constant. In my bedroom, sitting right beside me, ready to rock at a moment’s notice. The tunes that guitar could play if only it were in the right hands. But it has to put up with my mediocre strumming, and increasingly crap efforts at singing.

To celebrate, I’ll play a Bb major chord. Maybe my favourite. Sad, I know.