Behind the Fridge, and What I Found There

Behind the fridge? is that even a place?” asked my friend Judith when I discussed current political events with her this morning.

A telling question. After all – the only time I have ever seen behind a fridge was when replacing one fridge with another fridge. And I’m no philosopher, but I would have to say that if you’re replacing a fridge, then that spot is no longer “behind” the fridge – it’s the place where the back of the fridge used to be, and where the back of another fridge will be some time soon.

So I put on my uncle Hank’s old American Football helmet (he never actually went to America, and his real name was Ronald. But he was inspired by the film “The Mean Machine”).  I strapped on some football shin pads I borrowed off young Tommy next door, laid the old Slazenger V400 handy, and pulled the fridge away from the wall. I put my head – very carefully – around to see what was in there.

It was a surprise. A portal leading through to another world. So I grasped the V400, and plunged on through. Well, you do in these circumstances, don’t you?

I staggered, blinking, into the daylight. I was in a woodland clearing. Dancing round, small children filled the glade. Beyond the hedge, sun-burnt, honest sons of the soil, went through the fields, harvesting the barley with scythes. I noticed that every one of them was right-handed. Not one leftie to cause trouble and danger in the harvesting. Below, the fair-skinned maidens of the corn – every one approved as keeping a spotless kitchen – followed along, bundling, wimbling and gleaning.

The scene of rustic harmony went on for hours – the hard-working men occasionally running off for a quick frolic with the gleaning-girls, or grasping a drop of the surreal ale which they kept in an oaken cask – of English oak, I was told, and constructed by an English cooper. The work stopped for a moment as a car drew into sight in the distance – and all cheered to see their much-loved Squire, driven by his chauffeur in the luxurious Bentley Farage.

Morris dancers skipped across the distance. Jack-in-the-Green lurked in the spinney, awaiting the return of spring. And then, far away across the fields, the tolling of an iron bell called the faithful to their knees, to hear the softly-spoken magic spell. They filed gratefully into Church for the Harvest Festival, where the upper-class, beautifully-spoken Reverend Maybold thanked God for the chance to live in this beautiful country with its sun-dappled evenings.

Then a quick game of cricket on the Green. The burly blacksmith took 4 wickets, although the Squire’s son, down from Cambridge for the summer, won the game with an educated innings of 57 – not one shot hit “on the up”. When night fell, the womenfolk returned to their thatched cottages to boil up the chitterlings which they bought from their English corner shop, while the men headed to the Rose and Crown to smoke long pipes, drink English bitter and tell tales of foreign countries where cucumbers were straight and mass-murderers were set free if they missed their household pets. Then they put on their British-made coats and British-made flat caps, and cycled on their British-made cycles back home for dinner, and to listen to the Goons on the wireless.

But under the darkling sky, the maypole stood lively against the western glow, as the hobbits danced round it with abandon. They rejoiced that the dark shadow of Mordor had been removed from the land, the swarthy Southrons were no longer seen, and the elves had returned to the Grey Havens, leaving the English to run their own affairs. The smell of garlic was no longer to be found in the land. And I gradually realised that this world, though beautiful and precious, had never really existed.

I really, really, really shouldn’t have eaten that cheese I found behind the fridge.

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5 thoughts on “Behind the Fridge, and What I Found There

  1. I was going to say that whatever you’re on, it must involve green cheese 🙂

    An ideal of an England, that never existed, seen through rose tinted spectacles, probably in sepia colours as well. Much like the hovis advert.

    The reality of hard work for long hours, poor pay, poverty, drunkeness, unfaithfulness, wives worn out by the triple burdens of child bearing, child raising and keeping house and home in slum conditions. together. Struggling to bring up families of 10, 12 or more children in one room, in houses occupied by 5 or 6 families, owned by absentee landlords who cared little for these conditions. Infant mortality, disease, and early death the best that most could expect.

    The cruelty and indifference of landed gentry to the plight of their tenants and workers and the business of hovels, laughing described as pubs, taking every last penny in drink from the men escaping the world in alcohol. Many ending up in the cruelty and horrendous conditions of the workhouse. More Gruel please sir said Oliver!!!

    The church in the middle acting as paternal father figures, mostly staffed by poor curates without a living of their own, while the Gentrified Vicar’s, second or third sons of the Gentry, lived in luxury, holding 4 or 5 titles themselves, skimming of the wealth and leaving their parishioners to slum it as well.

    The excitement for some of crime or military or naval service to escape from the poverty and depression, fighting foreign colonial wars, to enrich the establishment figures who sent them. Only to be widely villified by society as witnessed and written about by Kipling in ‘Tommy’.

    Looking back through rose tinted spectacles.

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  2. UK Viewer has said it all already. Interestingly, rather a lot of expats living in France say they went there because the countryside is like the UK in the 1950s. I reckon their rose-tinted specs are welded on.

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