I defrosted the freezer.

That’s a job I won’t have to do again for another eight years.

There is a strange sort of archaeology in the defrosting of a freezer.

Mine was not too bad by the way, it was supposed to be ‘frost free’ but I think after so many years it just gave up and took a break.
It is also quite small so the fall out area was contained.

The frost had really taken hold in the last six months.
A slight door malfunction had led to a lot of ice forming.
A slightly cracked drawer was probably to blame and being freed from the ice today meant I could clean and glue and slide everything back into place.

I do not have a hair dryer in the house any more and my fan heater is at work.
Actually my fan heater is now working for Cornwall Council somewhere, kidnapped in a chilly office move so I nicked theirs when they were not looking.
My fan heater is now probably in Truro, rattling away in some office.
I got it in Essex.
Well travelled, that heater.

I was not sure how to speed up the defrosting as the freezer is in the coldest part of the house.

In the end I pulled the tumble dryer out and pointed the vent into the freezer which worked a treat.

The ice melted, most of the water vapour from the dryer condensed in the freezer compartment and the towels dried at the same time.

I was feeling quite good about this small piece of lateral thinking until I saw the fluff that had blown out of the vent hose and all over the inside of my wet and now warm freezer compartment.
It came off easily enough but where it got in between the filaments it stuck, just out of dishwasher brush bristle length.
It looks black and mildewey.
Fluff and the aesthetics aside, it worked quite well.

I cleared out the stuff I could easily get to and waited to see what else would be revealed.
As the ice shelf receded, I found two vegetarian sausages, one fish finger, one frozen Yorkshire Pudding (don’t judge me, they were on special offer) lots of peas and a portion of Lasagne.
I also found the ice cube tray.
We used to make baby food by liquidising vegetables and freezing them in the ice cube tray.
At meal times you could turn out two cubes into a pan, warm them through and serve them up.
It was nice to see it again and be reminded that you cold fit three day’s solid food for one of the Proles in that tray at one time.
The ice cube tray was fortunately not full of baby food.

The Lasagne was quite old.
When Loz died people reacted in different ways.
While I am not really happy to make gender based sweeping statements I have to say that the men and women in my social group reacted in very stark ways.
There were people who talked.
There were people who listened.
There were men who got me drunk.
There were women who cooked me food.

Broadly speaking people fell into these groups if I ever saw them.
The one real exception to this was one of my friends who just mooched around my hose for a few days not saying much, watching telly with the Proles or throwing them around in the back garden and occasionally leaving cups of tea within reach. I am not sure we actually had any sort of conversation at all but it was kind of marvellous really. It was brilliant.

The talkers actually appeared before Loz had died.
On the morning they were to switch off the machines I was in the bed room getting dressed and my phone rang.
I sort of knew it would be a bad idea to answer but at the same time it was such an odd day to prepare for I thought perhaps some normality might help.

The nice lady on the other end of the phone said hello and then disintegrated into floods of tears telling me what a poor man I was on a day like today.
On the face of it I agreed with her but was a tad busy getting ready so I did have to politely cut the conversation short.
Grief is a terrible thing, it is relatively rare in our culture and so often hits people in an unexpected flood.
Most people who talked about it were experiencing shock, awe and panic in various sized doses.
So was I, so I had every sympathy in the world, even if the timing could be questionable.

The listeners were great.
I was experiencing shock, awe and panic and it was nice to try to make sense of it.
I sometimes made sense of it by trying to say it all out loud at once.
Most of the time I kept a bit of a lid on it but every now and then I would lose it completely.
I did feel myself reigning it in a bit when eyes became too wide.

Any how, gender specific reactions….

The men getting drunk thing was kind of to be expected really.
As a man who drank, it was a landscape I understood and I think I would have been the same in their shoes.
Lots of Gin, lots of beer, lots of rum.
I don’t remember us all talking about our feelings much.
Mind you, I don’t remember much.

It is unfair of me to insinuate that all women wanted to cook for me.
They didn’t.
But some did and they brought food round or cooked in my house or invited me to theirs for slightly too much pudding.
On one occasion I had to talk someone out of coming round with the ingredients for a casserole, all three of their children and their dog. It was an incredibly sweet gesture but I am not sure it would have had the desired effect.

I don’t remember any men coming round with a hot pot or similar, only women.
Make of it what you will I suppose but it is a phenomena borne out by the experience of other widowers I have heard from.
I actually started to put on weight.
Whatever the reason, I felt it was quite a primal thing and on occasion really very welcome.

The Lasagne was really lovely, I remember saving the last portion for a special day.
Well, I remember it now, and I remembered at the time, clearly there was a long time in the middle where I did not remember about the Lasagne at all.

I saw it today and I remembered all those people who came round in that first year.

All that time, all that care, all that love.

I never really got to say thank you to those people, thank you for the talking and the listening and the drinking and the food.
I won’t ever be able to tell them what that meant to me.
Because it meant they loved her too.

Anyhow, I threw the Lasagne away.
I am sentimental but there are limits.