Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

As the Titanic song says, some jobs really do just go on and on

Titanic stars: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet

It's a hundred years since the launch of Titanic. I've no idea what the trauma of that tragic night must have been like for the passengers of Titanic. (I found sitting through the film with Kate and Leonardo dire enough). But this week I had a moment of connection with those souls, in the most unexpected of settings - defrosting my freezer.

Like so many things in life, this job turned out to be trickier than the instructions said it would.

Ok, I hadn't tackled the monstrous build up of ice for several years and, yes, I know, now, that you're not supposed to go at the big frozen wedges of the white stuff with a tool, hacking away like a demented Michaelangelo trying to find David in the bottom half of a Bosch appliance. I see that. Now.

But still. Nothing prepared me for the freezing deluge of melted water on the kitchen floor when I came back to the room after an absence of and hour or so.

Of course, I stepped into the flood in a pair of towelling slippers that immediately soaked up every drop within a foot of my bare feet and turned them blue and numb.

Only then did I realise the floor was flooded. Water's sneaky that way. Y'don't know it's there, until you're in the middle of it - a bit like Craigavon.

I started doing emergency mopping. Word to the wise, a cheap dishcloth won't cut it in this situation - might as well use a fork.

Finally I wised up and got out yesterday's newspapers to cover the wet. Of course, I immediately succumbed to a distraction that usually only befalls the setter of a coal fire - being drawn into reading an article, just as you're about to destroy the very paper you're reading.

And so I found myself pausing mid-hack of a piece of ice that could've sunk, if not the Titanic, at least a small pedalo in the artificial lake in Newcastle, to read a story about all the young people being offered work, for no wages, at Tesco.

While the cold seeped into my bones and I felt for the Titanic victims thrown into icy water, my brain struggled with the seemingly intractable problem of what to do with millions of NEETS (young people not in education, employment or training).

Overwhelmed by the task in front of me, I felt like a young person without hope. I just wanted to give up and go watch daytime TV or play a computer game or make toast and leave the butter out and the knife on the counter.

But then I thought of Celine Dion and I just kept going on and on and on, until finally I got all the mess and the ice and the frozen bits of unidentifiable "food" sorted out and some semblance of dry normality restored.

By the time some feeling returned to my toes, I was glowing with a sense of achievement. Something I suppose work experience is meant to offer young people who have no jobs to go to. We all need a challenge, even if we don't want one. As any freezer-defroster will tell you - better to have hacked and cursed than never to have tried at all.

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