Nuala McCann: The moment you discover your big end has gone is not a good one

Our fridge freezer lived under our stairs because we have a doll's house of a scullery. It served us well. But it was whooshing and groaning so we went and bought a new one. Ah, verschlimmbesserug. What a Pandora's box we opened

In our student days you'd never know what we'd find at the back of the fridge when we defrosted it

THE Germans have a word for it... they always do. It is vershlimmbesserug – trying to make things better and making them worse.

I like doppelganger and am very fond of schadenfreude – could devote six weeks of therapy sessions to the latter. Then there’s fachidiot – just sound it out – we’ve all met a few of those.

But regular readers will be aware of the “mad woman under our stairs” groaning and whooshing which appeared to signal the death of our fridge freezer.

“Let’s face it, that fridge freezer doesn’t owe us,” said my husband. It is ancient.

So we said a funeral eulogy praising all that it had done for us down the years.

How it had kept the Phish food ice cream with the chocolate bits and mallows nice and cold for our small boy: how the discovery of those plastic bags for ice cubes had changed our Friday nights forever... chin, chin!

Of course our fridge freezer was frost free – a must for any non-domestic goddess – who has time defrosting these days?

In our student flat of many years ago, the ice monster in the fridge was a given – everyone’s flat had one of those and no flat had central heating.

Those modern wimpy kids. Pah. We put all on our clothes to go to bed, woke up to ice inside the windows and blew frosty smoke with our breaths from under the blankets. The ice monster was part of the furniture. After all, there were six of you and no-one fancied defrosting the fridge.

It grew and grew, swallowing up the odd raw sausage and scotch egg left to rot at the back of the fridge.

At the end of the year when we had to turn off the fridge before handing the flat back to the landlord, it was amazing what treasures yielded forth and how many people bit their tongues as they realised that, in fact, the accused was innocent, he had not stolen your last sausage, it was the ice monster what ate it.

Our fridge freezer lived under our stairs because we have a doll’s house of a scullery. It served us well. But it was whooshing and groaning so we went and bought a new one.

Ah, verschlimmbesserug. What a Pandora’s box we opened.

I was out when the new fridge freezer arrived. To be honest, I was looking forward to the sound of silence on my return. We were all beginning to feel a bit seasick with all the whooshing.

“New fridge freezer in place...” came text from husband.

“Great, wonderful, load up the ice cube bags, mine’s a double Bombay Sapphire,” I said.

“Whooshing sound still going... not fridge freezer???” came the next text.

It is that moment when you discover that the message about the bird in the attic is literal and does not refer to the love of a particular old Irish jig. That moment when you discover your big end has gone. Just don’t ask but it is, apparently, very expensive.

It is not a good moment. The contents of our attic are in our front room because we need a new roof.

Now all is not well below stairs either.

“Burst pipe under floor boards,” comes text.

“Chase down those delivery men and ask for our old fridge back,” I reply.

Alas, it is too late. It is headed dump-wards.

Given that the burst pipe is under the floor under the stairs, we now have a big hole in the floor and are dancing around a brand new fridge freezer in our living room – as well as three Christmas trees, five geriatric suitcases and a precious compendium of World at War magazines dating back well into the last century.

But yours truly took out emergency home insurance – for rats, mice, wasps, burst pipes and boiler breakdowns. Yes, 30 minutes of precious life was lost listening to tinned music but the emergency plumber cameth. He took a look at the hole under the stairs and he sighed.

“Lead,” he said.

“Lead,” we said.

“Lead,” he said.

Apparently you cut lead and it just disintegrates. Never mind that we’ve been poisoning ourselves for over 20 years.

This is a problem. It is a large problem. But he has a temporary solution that involves an old Red Bull can and a couple of clips.

Suddenly, the house is silent, no whooshing.

“We’re not out of the woods,” says my other half.

“Glass half full? Glass half empty? Who cares – just fill glass,” I say. So he does.

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