Tag Archives: Challenges


Major social insights from the world of barbeques


I’m happy to say that even now, in my sixties, I am a BBQ virgin.  Barbies have never appealed to me: they remind me of the joke, ‘Why do men do barbeques?’ : ‘Because they end up burning the meat better.’

However, my wife’s family are keen on the barbeque scene, and when we decided to invite them all to our house for a weekend party to celebrate Linda’s 50th, there was probably some self-interest in their decision to give her a barbeque set as a birthday present.

My father-in-law clearly felt it was his duty to train me in doing barbeques, not a view I shared.  However, it is thanks to Richard that I have a major social insight from the world of barbeques to share.  He explained that you need two kinds of charcoal to get a barbecue going well: firstly, fast-acting, self-impregnating for a quick and fiery start, and then lumpwood for a steady reliable flame.


Fast-acting, self-impregnating seemed a pretty good summary for the frenetic youth of today. And whilst lumpwood may not be the most elegant name for the over fifties, there’s such a desperate lack of a good collective name for them that this could be a strong candidate.

At least the term lumpwood suggests a solid, important, dependable, and central role, with a hearts of oak quality, which I feel is very appropriate to the many invaluable roles which we over-fifties could play in society, if we start to find our voice, re-discover our purpose, and act on it all. But then, to return to the barbeque analogy, it might just be the role of the fast-acting, self-impregnating generation to light our fire…