Publication Date: May, 2020
Location: In the PoetsOnline Archive, under ‘Odes to Common Things‘.
Genesis: Prior to the Covid lockdown, I was spending a couple of days a week clearing out my Mum’s house, ready for the new occupants. I still need to finish this job! Anyway, with my Dad, my kid sister, and now my Mum gone, it’s challenging getting used to the fact that I’m now an orphan, and there’s no one left, really, who knew me as a baby. That’s not quite true of inanimate objects, though. The house is full of inanimate objects – that’s why the house clearing was taking so long! – but one day not long before the restrictions were imposed, I made a sudden, quite emotional connection to two items in particular – the rocking horse, called Scamp, and The Fridge.
The rocking horse was made for my Dad by his dad (who was a blacksmith) for his seventh birthday. He’s lost his mane and tail, and his 2D head is a bit bare and bald now, but he’s been a fixture in the house long before I rocked up. Similarly with The Fridge. When the prompt came through to write an ode to a ‘common thing’, The Fridge was the only option I ever really considered. Enjoy…
Born in 1960, The Fridge is older than me. Older than me, and colder than me, with more staying power than any fridge made today. Pre-dating planned obsolescence by several decades, it’s never missed a beat since Mum & Dad brought it home to their little love-nest, all those years ago. Open it up and see a freezer box at the top, black door opening downwards to the ice cream and the vodka; alongside, a half-shelf where the milk jug was kept when I was a kid. Who uses milk jugs now? Three full shelves – choose their location using the little grooves moulded into the white, plastic walls. On the inside of the door, a blue egg-rack and a drop-down sky-blue door-width compartment where we used to keep the butter; now it houses carrots for the dog and, when I’m pushed for space, a can of Camden Hells. The white solid shelf at the bottom of the inside of the door, with its solid wire retainer, held milk bottles back in the day when they were glass, delivered clinking to the doorstep six days a week, at three in the morning, and that chimed a friendly greeting whenever we opened or closed The Fridge door. If we didn’t move the milk bottles from the step to The Fridge early enough in the winter, the cream at the top would freeze, expand, pop the silver foil top and raise it up on an obscene pillar of frosted cream. A delay in the summer, too long after the dawn chorus, meant a ragged hole in the silver foil, and a fat, sated blue tit snoozling in a nearby tree. What do blue tits drink now on a golden summers’ morn? Closed, the door is white, a chrome handle set horizontally into a jet-black polished-onyx wide-set band at the top, bearing the legend, “Prestcold.” Established in 1934, they no longer exist; nothing they made ever needed replacing! My lovely Mum (born in 1939) can never be replaced and, since she died last year, The Fridge is all there is left in the world that’s known me all my life.