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.
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
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.
condolence cards in a pile.
men’s shoes but mismatched.
tomatoes pulled off the vine.
a large black and white
photograph of a couple
where she is laughing
and he is looking at her.
have to laugh about it, but only sometimes
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 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.
and the other with endless tupperwares of mourning so exquisite and delicious, it stained the
insides a permanent grey
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