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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Mayer

Why we celebrate Boris Johnson's loss

When Boris Johnson declared his intention to stand for Prime Minister, I posted a thread to try to articulate the pain that his candidacy caused to the Covid bereaved (see images). Today I am posting an extraordinary poem, written by Merky-prize winning poet Monika Radojevic and inspired by my experience of widowhood in lockdown. The Downing Street parties may seem minor infractions compared to the other acts of destruction Johnson visited on the UK, but for the Covid bereaved, they cut deep. Read, weep and then join us in celebrating that Johnson, at least for now, is in retreat.


Two fridges


the first was a purchase covered in sludge

thick filmy asphyxiating 3pm on a Saturday no shoes in the house please and


to make space for it she attacked a large square table like she was going to war then moved

it to the spare room and locked the door put the key down somewhere and didn’t remember

where for two months


so breathless is a house where the oxygen is

replaced with grief


sometimes you


have to laugh about it, but only sometimes


anyway she had to order an extra fridge and smash it up against the wall next to the other

one but this one was bigger silver and double doored and she could see herself and her

cheekbones in it


and also in the reflection:


a stack of legal documents.


dead flowers.


condolence cards in a pile.


men’s shoes but mismatched.


tomatoes pulled off the vine.


fish sauce.


a large black and white

photograph of a couple

where she is laughing

and he is looking at her.


a woman

distorted.


sometimes you


have to laugh about it, but only sometimes


anyway


about a year later something wasn’t quite right with the fridge it emitted a strange whine like

wailing like sobbing like keening


it was within warranty so they sent out an engineer and when he opened the doors the fridge

was just so goddamn full of food hand cooked food in tupperwares and sometimes just

entire saucepans and even a massive salad bowl shaped like a lettuce leaf and filled with

mutton curry and


as he clattered about this industrial fridge he could have asked her a lot of questions like:


why there was so much food in the fridge of a woman who clearly lives alone? and


why was she standing in the kitchen wearing a man’s coat with an obvious

hole in the pocket? and


why does she speak like she’s underwater?


she almost wished he would ask because then she could explain


that in the days weeks months (years) after her husband, her person, became one of the

first to die from a virus that tore through a planet


she was so swept away by her particular current of grief and the way it stretches out time

like a slowing heartbeat


that only seemed to be broken up by spending time in the kitchen and so


she cooked

and cooked

and cooked

and cooked

and cooked

and cooked

and cooked

and cooked

food


she couldn’t eat because who could, when they are trapped in cement?


I’m not sure if I can accurately describe the way she cooked because the truth is no one else

was there to see it all I know is that


nothing - no matter how time consuming - can cradle a human going through the end of

something, so picture a woman filling up a kitchen with silent steam


yet unable to eat


and if he’d listened to her she would have told him the other half of the story that sets her

skin on fire and that is


on the same day she had a fucking industrial fridge-freezer installed in her kitchen to store

the expansion of her loss


there was a second fridge delivered.


To no. 10 Downing Street. This one was smaller. I believe you’d call it a drinks fridge. One

specifically for drinks, for alcohol for parties, for laughter. This fridge was installed for the

purpose of joy and human contact.


Because whilst everyone else was staring at hospital ceilings, or rationing their fresh

air, or confronting too much too soon,


a handful of powerful people thought it might be nice to have a few drinks together.

And you might not think that is such a terrible thing, to break such a minor and arbitrary

rule. After all, no one was hurt by it, right?


Except. More than two hundred thousand people died based on decisions made by that

handful, as they drank. Then then lied about it. Then pretended it wasn’t that bad.


Sometimes you have to laugh about it. But not in this case.


but of course he did not ask because why would he? and so she did not tell him any of it and

she did not tell him


that it only took a few minutes to fill up both of those fridges

except one was filled with booze.


perhaps champagne.


and the other with endless tupperwares of mourning so exquisite and delicious, it stained the

insides a permanent grey


isn’t that


just so


funny?


By Monika Radojevic

© Monika Radojevic 2022


Note: please share this blog post widely. If you wish to reproduce the poem separately, please contact Monika via press [at] womensequality.org.uk









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