Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Barbecues of Dibley in the Downs
The residents of Cloverdale cringe when September 1st rolls around on the municipal calendar. Many pack the kids in the PVan and head to their favorite campgrounds in the mountains. Others lucky enough to have family living in Tamworth on Tide board the Coastal Express for the hour long clickity clack down the railroad track. The many unlucky sods without an escape plan bunker down in their homes for the 24 hours it takes for the atmosphere to clear from the Dibley on the Downs Onion Days Celebration. Wet towels are used as extra barriers in the windows and doors to stop the thick smoke and ash coming from the Dibley barbecues and carried on the ocean breeze directly over Cloverdale like the Fog of Doom Moses summoned to kill the firstborn of Egypt.
Every September 1st the residents of Dibley gather in the hamlet’s Whispering Well Commons. Each family brings its own barbecue, meat and pot luck dish made with onions. The briquets, starter fluid, bloomin onions and corn on the cob are supplied by the village council. All barbecues are fired in unison when the church bell rings 5:00 P.M. Several minutes later a gray-black mushroom cloud forms over the village and quickly rises upward causing Confederacy Air Traffic Control to divert airplanes around the entire Shire. Many liken the cloud to the mushroom cloud of a thermonuclear blast seen in the Confederacy of Dunces Civil Defense Videos all school children must watch, and replayed monthly for the general population on Cloverdale Weekend Television. The video teaches the Confederacy’s citizens to understand the proper steps to surviving a nuclear attack.
1. You learn the difference between normal sunshine and the light of a nuclear blast.
2. You learn to duck and cover.
3. If you survive the blast, you learn how to identify your nearest fallout shelter.
The rest of the video is missing. The scientific community disagrees on the next course of action. Some scientists recommend the distribution of cyanide capsules. It is a quick and inexpensive way for the population to exit a hopeless situation with their grace and dignity still intact. Others recommend taking shelter underground and living as long as humanly possible until help arrives or you die from radiation poisoning, the symptoms of which are loss of hair, teeth and the nonstop hemorrhaging of blood from all the body's exits. Of course there is always the risk of cannibalism. That topic is never mentioned in the educational films. If it was the films would lose their G rating and couldn't be shown in the primary schools.
Every year the Lord Mayor of Cloverdale protests the Onion Festival and every year government officials promise to take decisive action. To date no action has been taken. The indifference to Cloverdale’s complaint may be due to the fact that many government officials are invited to the Festival as guests of honor. After all, it is widely known that no one on Earth does a barbecue better than the residents of Dibley on the Downs. That goes for Texans as well.
“We know how the people of Pompeii suffered,” said Cloverdale’s Lord Mayor from the village’s emergency response bunker located in the basement of the police station. “Listen to these cries for help,” he said holding the phone near the police radio’s speaker. “It breaks your heart doesn’t it? Oh the humanity......”
The phone line went dead after that. I must assume there was too much dust on the wires.
An update will follow tomorrow after we’ve had a chance to return to the village and dig out the survivors. For now, the citizens of Cloverdale have few choices. They can leave town or take refuge in their basements and wait out the coming darkness and ash.