I read a book recently called Round Ireland With A Fridge by Tony Hawks. After a big night of partying, Tony wakes up to find a friend has bet him £100 to tour Ireland with a fridge as his companion. Entertaining, light-hearted and an easy read, but having seen the pictures, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by the size of his fridge. A pathetic little matchbox of a thing. Tony has sold over 800,000 copies of his book tracking his little adventure, he’s even made a film about it and won some of those arty awards that means he can have olive branches flanking a film festival title on his movie poster. 800,000 copies and a film means he’s made some cash. Being deep in the red and thoroughly of the belief that I could do better I spent my Sunday afternoon trialing a far superior chiller.
The beast in question is a stainless steel Sterling Prop SP1400 double doored freezer. 1388mm long, 1970mm high and 800mm deep. She’ll sink to -22 degrees, locks tight shut and has 4 hard rubber castors (a feature Tony didn’t need to look out for, being able to slip his fridge into his pocket). Shipping costs for that sort of machine are prohibitive and therefore the trial run was kept in London; Spitalfields to St Paul’s to be specific. One and a half miles of bumpy road, kerbs, tourists, buses and grates waiting to swallow a castor.
The roads around Spitalfields are pitted and bumpy, it was a tough start and as we rounded the corner onto Bishopsgate, the teeming horde that is Liverpool Street station confronted us. The disparity in reaction to such a superhuman task was incredible. Those locals who had surfaced from the tube chose to cheer and help push, thoroughly taken in by the challenge and wanting to chat about the rationale behind such an adventure. (One particularly attractive individual called Miss Fish, no first name offered, seemed exceptionally keen to get involved with these odd adventures and came all the way to the Barbican roundabout.) Those that had just dismounted a bus seemed much less enthused and huffed and puffed and obstructed the task as much as possible. I reasoned that they viewed the SP1400 as another vehicle to cause further delay to any future journey, perhaps naively in the view that this route would be being taken again. Forcing a stranger out of the way whilst hiding behind a commercial freezer is very entertaining, until you succeed in your task and, 1388mm further into the journey, you come face to face with your challenger and their angry face.
Battling against high kerb stones, roadworks imposing on pavements, and, worse, those little bumpy yellow paving slabs used to guide blind people to crossings, morale was low. Made worse when Sterling rolled through something soft and my low slung head came face to face with the excess of another Londoner’s previous night out.
Like many amateur long distance athletes I considered cheating and tried to mount Sterling onto a bus. Bus driver’s face? Not happy. Not happening…
The push went on and we were soon accompanied by a jolly little protestor called Robbie who was making his way from his tent in Finsbury Square to get a free hot meal at the communal tent in St Paul’s. Robbie was very keen to help me, and it became clear that when I said I was heading to St Paul’s he thought that I was donating a freezer to his cause. The help was needed by this stage so I kept him as the subject of conversation to avoid the truth being revealed.
Occupying the London Stock Exchange (LSE) is the main focus for many of those such as Robbie who are protesting in London at the moment. Arriving outside the LSE building with an unshaved, unwashed, committed protestor and a commercial freezer was all too much for one member of the LSE security team who didn’t quite know how to react. Luckily for him, even the most elementary of barriers was enough to halt our super chilled metal friend from crashing into the building.
And so we had arrived. Robbie said his goodbyes and headed off, smoking and scratching towards to St Paul’s camp. Perhaps the first of many friends to be made on the future epic freezer pushing journey. My freezer has a 1,400 litre capacity, Tony Hawks’ only had 40 litres. Being a man, and knowing that size is the only thing that matters, I therefore believe that I should be selling 35 times the number of books that Round Ireland has sold. That’s 28 million copies. Now that’s a productive way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
by Nick Birkett