“Now then. That one’s for meat, the other is for vegan food.” John said to his vegan daughter, Adele, whilst showing her the two barbecues in front of them.
“Do you have to have two barbecues?” Adele asked her omnivorous father, “I’m sure no one would mind eating vegan food for one meal. It’s not poisonous.”
“I just thought it would be good to have the option available.” John said.
“Fine,” Adele replied.
The first guests to the barbecue, the other residents of Lower Strangling, arrived in the Hangman’s Noose beer garden.
“Hello, Adele,” Simon said whilst giving Adele her present, “happy birthday.”
“Thank you, Simon,” Adele said.
The other villagers said hello to Adele, before Robert got the beer ready and Paul got the wine ready.
“Which one’s the vegan barbecue?” Jo asked John.
“The one on the left,” John said.
Jo then leaped behind it and got it going.
“I suppose you’re looking forward to getting back to the museum,” Sarah said to Adele.
“I am yeah, but I’ve not minded lockdown. I’ve enjoyed walking along Hampstead Heath.” Adele replied. “Anyway, how was your holiday? Surrey, wasn’t it?”
“It was yeah,” Sarah said. “Lovely weather, and also the Surrey Hills are a gorgeous part of the world.”
“I suppose it’s nice to be somewhere else,” Adele said.
“It is yeah,” Sarah said. “I guess it’s nice for you to escape London and spend some time in Lower Strangling.”
“Highlight of my year,” Adele said.
“I suppose it would be,” Sarah said.
Sarah’s husband Dave noticed a significant absence from the party; Adele’s illusive boyfriend, Grant Corbelings.
“Grant couldn’t make the trip, could he?” Dave said.
“No. The job of a banker is never done.” Adele said.
“It sure seems like it,” Dave said.
After a while, the next guests arrived; Adele’s vegan pagan friends from Hampstead. Most of them were wearing jeans, checked shirts, and converses. The women wore summer dresses.
“Hey, guys!” Adele said to her friends. “Come on in!”
“So… what are things like at the Pagan gathering?” Simon asked to Alastair, one of Adele’s trendy friends from London.
“Very well,” Alastair said in his soft Irish lilt. “Freeing. We getting new members by the minute. People who just want to exist in nature. You should try it some time. Escape from the stresses of being in a organisation religion for a bit,”
“I’ll consider it,” Simon said before laughing awkwardly.
A little while later, the final guests to the barbecue arrived, Adele’s mother Theresa and her step Dad, Hubert.
The gave a warm greeting to Adele before turning to John.
John gave his ex wife a quick nod before greeting her current husband.
“Hello, Hubert.” John said somewhat tersely.
“I’m not Hubert Norridge anymore,” Hubert said, “I’m a gender neutral forest nymph.”
“What?” John asked.
“I’m at one with the pagans now,” Hubert said. “This is the future, leaving strict formalities behind and simply existing.”
“Ok,” John replied.
“I have the pagan’s vote when the time comes in 2024,” Hubert said, “or so the Bristol pagan gathering have told me.”
“Hmm,” John responded, not knowing how else to react.
“I see you’re keeping the place up and running,” Theresa said.
“Well, the divorce would have been pointless if I hadn’t,” John said.
“I guess,” Theresa said.
“I see you still haven’t found someone,” Hubert said, “unless your new partner is someone in the crowd.”
“I given up trying,” John said. “I’m married to the job.”
“Hence why I filed for divorce,” Theresa said.
“Hmm,” John responded.
After a while, Jo was serving everyone roasted vegetables and other vegan food from the vegan barbecue, whilst John served meat to the select few who wanted it from the meat barbecue.
“Mmm. Vegan food is the future,” Hubert mused. “Soon meat will be obsolete, I think.”
“That is the dream,” Adele said.
“Hmm.” Hubert said before taking a swig of his Throckmorton Ale. “I must say it’s worth coming to this barbecue for the beer alone.”
“Thank you, Hubert.” Robert said. “I do pride myself in my beer.”
“I can certainly taste it,” Hubert said.
“Hey, John,” Alastair yelled, “that meat you’re serving isn’t Paddy O’Brien’s is it?”
“Of course it bloody isn’t,” Bruce yelled back at him instead. “We don’t serve frozen muck here, that meat was shot by me at a local farm.”
“And prepared by me,” Hans said.
“That’s good to know,” Alastair said, “that I can just about tolerate for now, but I’m not so keen on supporting a pub owned by a man who supports a paedophile and animal abuser, even if I’m friends with his daughter.”
“Point noted,” John said.
After Adele opened her presents, (most were vegan, pagan, or ancient history related), the guests began to leave the beer garden.
“Goodbye, John,” Hubert said. “Looking forward to seeing you again soon.”
“And I, you,” John said, mainly because he felt he had to not because he did.
After a while, John and Adele were alone in the beer garden.
“I think that went well,” Adele said.
“Do your friends like me or do they just tolerate me because of you?” John asked.
“I’m sure they like you… deep down.” Adele said.
“Hmm.” John said.
Adele then began to walk back to her holiday cottage. She turned round to John. “Anyway, I love you, and that’s all that matters.” She said to him.
“I suppose so.” John said before biding her goodbye as she returned to her cottage.
Yes, John thought to himself as he put the barbecues away, at least his trendy vegan daughter thought he was cool.
What more could he possibly want?