Our fridge magically disappears

Trip Start Sep 25, 2012
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Trip End Oct 16, 2012


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

About three years ago our little under-the-counter fridge pooped out. We replaced it with what was by British standards a huge one; it even has a freezer.  It's about half the size of the one in our kitchen at home.  It was too tall to fit under the kitchen counter, so we put it in a closet in the hallway across from the kitchen.  Not very elegant, but reasonably functional.

What to do with the old fridge became a fairly intractable problem.  As residents of the Borough of Bromley we have the right to deposit it at the local tip (perhaps more elegantly called a 'transfer station') but being car-less, getting it there was challenging.  I thought about laying it across the handlebars of my bike, but Annie gently convinced me how ridiculous that was.  My next idea was to somehow mount it on the little wheeled shopping basket we take to Sainsbury's.  But again Annie gently invoked reality.  A minicab?  Yes, for a fee they would do it but it wouldn't be cheap.  So having run out of bright (and mostly not-so-bright) ideas, the fridge sat, gathering dust, under the kitchen counter for three years while our new one hummed merrily away in the hall closet.  My dream had been to somehow chuck the fridge and put a few shelves in the space.

Well yesterday our good friend, Daniel, came over for dinner.  He lives just up the road, in South Norwood.  I mentioned that we'd been trying to get rid of the old fridge for years, and I finally got a brilliant idea that even Annie concurred with:  We had just hired a carpenter, Reece, to put in some shelves in a closet as well as where the under-counter fridge was at the moment.  I would ask Reece if he’d be willing to help me schlep the fridge to the tip in the boot of his car.  I expected Daniel to congratulate me on my clever scheme.  Instead he looked at me sort of pitifully, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "Why don’t you just set it out on the pavement?"  (Pavement means sidewalk, in case you didn’t know.)  I, in turn, looked blankly back at Daniel.  Huh? Why would we put the fridge out on the pavement?  It will just get in the way and start to rust real fast.  No, no, he said, it will be picked up and carted off.  I said I’d looked into that already—the council charges 25 to take away appliances, maybe more.  The carpenter would do it for less, or maybe for free.  No, no, he said, the council wouldn’t pick it up, the scavengers will.  Again from me: huh?  Daniel explained.  It’s customary to put appliances and other recyclable objects out on the pavement.  Certain people regularly cruise the neighborhoods looking for such stuff, which they collect and either refurbish or sell for scrap.  They do?  Of course, he said.  So after dessert we removed the fridge from the space under the counter, liberating enormous dust balls, carried it down the stairs, and deposited it on the corner of Ringwold Close and Aldersmead Road.  I was pretty dubious, but Daniel said it would be gone before morning.

Well, it wasn’t.  The next morning there the fridge sat, in all its glory, right on the edge of the pavement.  Oh well, I thought, as least it’s at street level so Reece won’t have to help me heft it down the stairs. 

Reece came and put in the shelves and did a bunch of other handymanly activities that were sorely needed.  He readily agreed to help me take the fridge to the tip. In the early afternoon he said he’d soon be finished, so I offered to help him take down some of the tools he was done with.  We got them into his little car and rearranged things in the back to make room for the fridge, which still loomed down the street.  Half an hour later Reece had finished. I walked downstairs with him to load up the fridge.  But it was gone!  Daniel was vindicated.

That afternoon I began painting the shelves with paint left over from last year (“Expresso Delight 6,” as you may recall if you read my blog from the trip to Ukraine, with stopovers in London and Germany).  The flat began to feel finished and prosperous. 

Taking a break to let the paint dry, Annie and I walked to Beckenham and cruised the charity shops.  I went off to Waitrose while she went into the Cancer Research UK shop on the High Street.  As she is wont to do, Annie began talking with the woman behind the counter.  The woman looked at her closely and said, “Aren’t you Mrs Klein?”  Startled Annie owned that she indeed was, and suddenly realized that the woman looked a little familiar. “I’m Mrs Wentworth,” the woman said, “I taught Emily in junior school.  Your husband’s name is Ken, isn’t it?”  Yikes, that was about 18 years ago! 

We remembered Mrs Wentworth well. Emily used to complain about how strongly her breath smelled of coffee and cigarettes.  She was a demanding teacher, but seemed to really love her students, and pushed them to learn as much as possible.  Mrs Wentworth had retired from teaching, she said, and now volunteered in the charity shop.  Annie said she had stopped smoking.

Annie met me at Waitrose and after telling me the incredible Mrs. Wentworth story we did some serious cheese shopping.  We settled on two different Stiltons, which we tucked into that night.  They were both fabulous: strong, and flavorful.  The one I especially liked was redolent of all sorts of barnyard aromas. 
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