<em>Illustration: Simon Letch</em>

Illustration: Simon Letch

Dear Clover Moore,

I'm writing regarding the mooted removal of the barbecue from the Charles Kernan Reserve, Abercrombie Street, Darlington. (I hope you don't mind me getting in touch via Heckler, but it's an analogue version of Facebook that keeps Friends of the Barbecue in the loop.)

A letter from the Sydney City Council tells locals: ''The City continues to receive mixed feedback about this [barbecue] facility and its impact to local residents.'' (Er, try ''impact on''.)

Now I'm just guessing, but I suspect the only thing ''mixed'' that the barbecue continues to receive are the grills cooked on it by hundreds of park users who enjoy the camaraderie engendered by sizzling flesh together (or tofu, as the case may be - for we are an open-minded community). I mean, exactly what is this ''mixed feedback?'' Who rings council to praise a barbecue?

No, I'll go out on a limb here and posit that, in opposition to the silent majority of happy barbecue users, the only ''mixed feedback'' consists of the complaints of precisely one NIMBY whinger, who lives in that glorified tin-shed apartment complex overlooking the park and barbecue ''facility''.

I can't prove it, Clover, but I'll bet if you checked you'll find that this anti-barbecue agitator is the same NIMBY whinger who successfully lobbied you for the removal of the basketball hoop from the park a couple of years back. The sound of kids laughing and bouncing a ball at 7.30 on a summer's evening must have penetrated the NIMBY's eyrie, playing merry hell with reruns of Heartbeat and To The Manor Born.

People bang on about the erosion of ''community'' and how we don't even know who our neighbours are. Outside of pubs, the park is one of the last patches of unmediated social interaction possible, a little sliver of green in which to romp with kids and dogs, chat with strangers and, yes, pick meat from teeth together.

Take away the basketball, take away the barbecue, and what will the Grinch target next? The slippery dip and swings? ''Death traps!'' The community garden? ''The pumpkins groan at night!''

The bland and the beige never sleep, Clover, but you can save the barbecue in the Charles Kernan Reserve. It's what Charles Kernan - whoever he was - would have wanted.

Tug Dumbly