Slowly, the shed door creaks open, and from the darkness within emerges a black metal monster set on four industrial-strength castor wheels. Four feet high and six feet long, it is dusty and it creaks. It looks like an antediluvian mechanical monster that has been in a dark cave for too long.
It's my barbecue. It's out for summer. I'll dust the lid and grease the grill and oil the wheels and scrape out the ashes I left in it after the last cook-out seven months ago, and then I'll just look at it and admire it and wonder what I'll cook on it this summer. In terms of detail, it's a basic affair with no bells or whistles; just a large grill in the middle over a coal binnacle of just the right depth, trays at either end and a storage bin below. But it barbecues better than anything else I've ever used. The whole thing is made of cast iron. It is heavy. You wouldn't want to get it on a hill and take the castor-wheel brakes off.
Incidentally, I procured this iron marvel quite some years ago at A1 Bakery in Sydney Road, which The Weekend Australian's Ed Charles describes as an Aladdin's Cave of products. I think A1 Bakery still builds barbecues to order. Mine cost under $200.
First crop to hand: the mustard greens. They are in full fleur-de-lys formation right now, purplish-green mottled and crinkled leaves resplendent over the surrounding greens, cos and chicory. Last night I picked a bunch and washed it in cold water and chopped it roughly, boiled it in a little more water and a scored garlic clove for six or seven minutes, drained most of the water, scattered it with crumbled blue cheese still in the pot, waited until the blue cheese melted and then served one of the simplest but most delicious side dishes you could imagine.
My sister's second divorce was finalised in the last six months. She is tired. She is to travel abroad tomorrow, accompanied by our mother who is a few months short of eighty, has serious arthritis and has been warned a severe jar to her neck could render her paralysed. They are going on a three-week walking tour of Turkey. They are looking forward to it.