It’s that time of year when the backyard beckons and explodes into life.
I do not use the word ‘‘explode’’ lightly.
A week ago I returned to the verandah after an eight-month respite of log fires and sofa-lounging.
For a while I thought I was back to my Welsh childhood when spring was on a Wednesday, summer on a Saturday and the rest of the year was filled with drizzly industrial fogs and howling sea gales.
Eventually I ran away to Australia where summer was endless and everyone lived in Summer Bay.
But things are changing.
It seems even in Australia winter now lasts until mid-November.
I’m waiting for a sea-fog to roll in across the Dookie hills.
So when the temperature finally hit 25 last week it was time to go outside again.
It may not have been shorts weather, but it was certainly time for some Chateau Verandah accompanied by guitar and dog poetry.
Shorts weather is an interesting phenomenon.
When is the right time to don shorts?
For some, there is no divide between temperature or season when it comes to shorts.
For these people every day is shorts day.
These people either have hides like elephants and can’t feel a thing, or they have spent too much time on holiday and can’t bear the thought of returning to sensible daywear during winter.
Then there are others, such as myself, who adhere to strict regulations when it comes to shorts.
Shorts can be worn at temperatures of 35°C or above, but must be strictly cut above the knee.
In temperatures below that 35°C, proper-fitting trousers must be worn at all times.
At no time can three-quarter-length short/trousers be worn without running the risk of looking like a Bay City Roller or a short-arsed pirate.
Anyway, I was sitting at my weather-chewed verandah table wearing regulation ankle-length trousers when suddenly I came under rapid enemy fire at 9 o’clock and 6 o’clock high.
I actually ducked as one bullet whizzed past my left ear with an audible ricochet buzz.
For a minute I was Biggles of the Special Air Squadron fighting the damn Bosch.
Wisteria pods were bursting all around me.
Prince Finski hightailed it.
Like the damn lily-livered hound that he is, he ran quivering into the car port.
Obergruppenfhurer Billy endured the fusillade alongside me — sitting bolt upright and yelling abuse at the enemy.
One wisteria seed hit a guitar string and produced a perfect middle ‘‘D’’note, which rang out across the garden and into the bush.
Now I was in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Ennio Morricone was writing the music.
Then one pod exploded directly over my glass of 1943 Spatburgunder, sending two seeds splashing into the pinot noir.
That was enough. What a senseless waste of decent, law-abiding grape juice.
This was war.
I took up my guitar and the remains of the Spatburgunder and made a tactical retreat indoors.
I am now re-grouping and planning a counter attack involving a rapid fire hedge trimmer and Kalashnikov clippers.
I performed a reconnaissance through the lounge window with binoculars and saw the wisteria heading north.
I might have to bring in the tank squadron.
Meanwhile, there is an eerie silence...
John Lewis is The News’ chief of staff.