We had a barbecue after work on Friday. Follwing a sunny intervals kind of week, Friday had a glowering look. Inevitably, as packing up time approached, the drizzle settled in. Cunningly I had failed to finish my presentation (BREEAM* awareness and rather a struggle) so I let the more efficient people faff. As the rain intensified and the light levels diminished (heading for dreach) a flurry of emails drifted into the right hand corner of my screen. Should we cancel? I hacked away at my presentation, reducing the 187 slides to 80 (still too many I know), whilst the bodging began. When I finally left the post-operative remnants of my presentation the building was eerily empty but there was a substantial jolly racket outside. The double doors of the garage had been opened and a huge blue tarpaulin stretched over the yard, held in place by straining bungee cords. Two barbecues were tended by the inevitable men; Tom, one of our ecologists sported a woman in underwear and stockings type of apron (sartorial elegance for BBQs) and John, Shona's chap, was togged out most attractively in a red and white spotty pinny with layers of ruffles. At the back of the garage, among the accumulated rubbish, a tiny MP3 player was attached to a set of speakers and pumped cheerful music out into the gloom whilst geoscience's coolboxes, only slightly grubby from carrying soil samples, had been filled with ice and beer.
You can probably imagine the rest. Billows of smoke, burnt sausages, toddlers splashing in the puddles, increasingly loud chatter, intensifying rainfall, darkness gathering and a huge amount of fun. Oh, and someone, usually Catherine, occasionally emptying the accumulated rainfall off the tarp to avoid collapse. The beginning of the break-up came as toddlers got increasingly grumpy and were carted off to their beds. We stacked chairs, let barbecues cool, finished up all the open bottles and wandered off into the night. Ed and Ali kindly gave Sally and me a lift home through the deluge. The young ecologists set off for the pub and then probably the clubs.
Would it have been so much fun if it had been a sunny evening? Well yes, probably. But the adversity was fun too. We're quite good at that.
* BREEAM - building research establishment environmental assessment method
Now with additional apron photo - sorry about the blurriness - it was taken on Catherine's phone.