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Irregular Dread - How To Set Your Garden On Fire

(Correspondent and bohemian MR S ANDERSON has a fine sense of practicality and self-preservation: so fine, in fact, as to be practically invisible: and by these traits is plunged into irregular dread. By this menu you may accurately reproduce his latest, strictly true disaster-adventure.)

You will need
An unkempt back garden; and

Eight concrete paving slabs; and

An old, abandoned wooden table; and

A nearby lilac bush; and

Matches; but

No propellants.

Arrange to be wearing a pair of light, comfortable training-shoes.

Enkempt your back garden, concluding the operation by sweeping the assorted dry twigs and dead branches into a large pile.

Survey the pile, and calculate that approximately eight bin-bags would be required to dispose of everything.

Decide against this, and resolve instead to burn the rubbish, drawing on your previously determined skills in handling wood-fired central heating to construct an efficient fireplace for its disposal.

Hors d'Oeuvres
Stand four of the concrete paving slabs on their edges to surround an area of ground about two feet square, tight to the back of the garden. Lean the slabs inwards slightly to support each other's weight without the need for fastening or sinking into the earth.

Pile the twigs and branches into your impromptu stove.

Light the twigs and branches.

Throw on more twigs and branches until flames are leaping out of the top of the stove and teasing the overhanging branches of your nearby lilac bush.

Wait for the fire to die down a little.

Throw on more twigs and branches.

Observe the flames once again teasing the lilac bush, and decide to enclose the stove. Manhandling a fifth concrete paving slab on top of the flames would obviously be foolhardily dangerous, so instead cover the stove with rotten planking from an old, abandoned wooden table. The rotten planking is damp, and will therefore not burn.

The air in your enclosed stove is now superheating, rising exceptionally rapidly into the sky and sucking in its wake the cold, ground level air through the cracks between the paving slabs. This phenomenon tightly concentrates the fire within, sending jets of flame several feet through the primitive wood roof, and is familiar to the bombers of Dresden as "firestorm."

Stand back a little.

The rotten planking should by now have been roasted dry and is beginning itself to burn in earnest. Wait for the glue between two planks to melt, which should drop one half into the stove and spill the other over the edge to land on the roots of the lilac bush, setting a line of flame racing across to a pile of dry twigs half-hidden awkwardly behind the stove and firing them prematurely.

Kick the burning plank off the roots of the lilac bush and stamp on it with your light, comfortable training-shoes until extinguished. Cautiously reach your leg around the white heat of the stove and kick apart the external pile of burning twigs.

Main Course
Observe the roaring, flaming, jetting stove thoughtfully until the paving slab forming the back of the stove explodes with enough force to frighten the pigeons in their loft two doors down and set dogs barking in another street, this explosion blasting out pieces of concrete in sizes ranging from those of a pea to those of a satsuma and hurling the largest part, about a quarter of the slab, through the trunk of the lilac bush as if it had been struck a good solid blow with an axe. The stove will collapse in on itself, flinging burning debris in all directions.

Congratulations! Your garden is now on fire.

Stand back a little.

Obtain a bucket of water from your kitchen. Run to the main mass of the collapsed fire and throw the water over it. As the water leaves the bucket, consider the effect of a sharp, instantaneous change of temperature on white-hot burning concrete slabs. Affect relief as the water is vapourised a few inches before reaching its target.

Return to the kitchen for another bucket of water, this time concentrating on the non-concrete-based fires.


Wait for the concrete slabs, now safely isolated, to die out and cool down. This should take no longer than 48 hours.

Clean up the garden over the next ten days, shovelling the swampy embers into bin-bags. Approximately eight ought to do it.

Coffee and Mints
About a fortnight later, buy a new car and, after exactly ten hours of ownership, destroy it totally against a lamppost.
Rakin' It In - stocks rakes, and serves only rakes, and is in Rake Street

Mittens 4 Kittens - sells mittens for kittens, and it's run by the Kitten Brothers, and there are four of them

Le Shop - contains various sizes and styles of sign, all of which have nothing but the word "Le" on them, and it's really trendy

Squeak Me Up Before You Go-Go - stocks guinea pigs, ill-fitting hinges and party squeakers, and beds, and the staff are dressed as go-go dancers, and the music is just that one song by Wham, and their two-for-one sale is called the Double Wham-my, and the manager is called Mrs Smubygg, and she spells it in capitals alternating with full stops

The All Of The Dictionary Definitions Of "Set" Shop
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