Although invented by Australians, the barbecue is an extremely popular form of al fresco entertaining that’s greatly enjoyed by numerous pensioners.

A simple charcoal barbecue can be bought for just a few pounds and will enable you to cook two or three chipolatas at a time and thus feed a party of six or eight in little more than 24 hours.

A larger gas barbecue will cost considerably more, but will allow you to incinerate a whole pig or half a whale in less than 10 minutes, while also welding the chassis of a tractor or small amphibious vehicle.

Charcoal imparts a delicate smoked flavour to the food you prepare, while gas barbecues can be used to anaesthetise people and extract teeth or perform minor amputations.  Gas barbecues also light at the flick of a switch, unlike charcoal versions, which may need dousing in high-octane rocket fuel in order to produce a faint glimmer of heat.

The most popular barbecue foods are steaks, sticky koala ribs, random squirrel bits and black, crunchy things, and these are usually accompanied by a selection of dips such as guacamole, tile paint and Stergene.  Home-made sourdough bread will add a touch of rustic authenticity, and any left over can be used to patch holes in fence panels at a later date.

Some people believe that it always rains when a barbecue is held, but official figures for 2013 show that less than 80% were subject to violent storms, tornados or avalanches.  However, one barbecue in Orton Waterville, Cambridgeshire, did have to be abandoned because of a plague of locusts.