Fridge Over The River Exe

I'm glad to see that so many local politicians are taking this business of fridges seriously. More and more of them are turning up on dumps, in fields, even in kitchens. But it is surely time to be a bit more imaginative about them. Making a complaint to local and national government has never cut any ice - a fridge joke, there - before, so why should we imagine that there'll be any difference this time?

No, what we need is a more positive, radical and upbeat solution to this outbreak. There is no time to waste. We don't want some cowboy re-cycler getting in on the act before we've even had time to seize the opportunity. Here are a few suggestions, and I think you'll agree that they square up to the "problem" fairly.

The Turner Prize. Is anyone seriously telling me East Devon can't win this one outright, if there are 40,000 fridges knocking about for the asking? Of course we can. With 40,000 fridges arranged symmetrically in a sympathetic outdoor setting - by the A30 springs to mind - we could have art critics from across the country coming to admire the installation. So many, in fact, that they might tape the "noise" created by their cars. The Turner Prize is worth a few bob these days, too, so we could probably build a gallery to house our own permanent collection, thereby bringing tourists flocking to the South-West. If you can win the Turner Prize by having a light switch off and on, how much stronger a claim we would have if there were 40,000 lights switching on every time you opened the doors, and going off when you closed them. (Or would they have switched off, eh? That's the kind of conceptual art which packs them in.) You could also invite 40,000 local artists to construct "My Fridge", on the Tracey Emin model, with every forgotten jar or vegetable each artist had ever left at the back of the fridge on view. Each item could be sealed in resin to prevent public health problems. Two more ideas like this, and Devon could be nominated for the entire Turner Prize shortlist.

Tackling Vandalism. For too long, people have been unable to get from one end of a Devon High Street to another without being mugged, or approached by sellers of crack cocaine, or even asked directions by stray tourists (who do they think they are, cluttering up our streets?) This problem could easily be solved if a fridge was placed on every street corner. Inside the fridge - not every fridge, so that there was an element of unpredictability in it - we could put a small policeman or policewoman, or even a volunteer with an NVQ1 in the combat of crime. Many people are unable to become law enforcers because they are small. Here is their chance. If you were a vandal coming down the street, and you knew there was a 50:50 chance of being arrested when you saw a fridge, you'd think twice.

Building A New Town. Suppose we were to build a new town somewhere near, oh I don't know, Broadclyst, what could we not do with 40,000 fridges? Properly crushed, and sealed inside the wall cavities, it is hard to think of a better source of insulation.

Solving literacy and numeracy problems. This country - and East Devon is no different in this respect - is chronically unable to read, write, spell, add up. We all know it. Well, four out of five of us, that's 45%, do. The punctuation in the local graffiti has reached a shocking standard. But where do children first learn to do their letters and numbers these days? That's right, on fridges. For a small investment in plastic, magnetic letters and symbols, we could set up a colossal number of fridge centres, where children and adults could learn to manipulate brightly coloured words in a sympathetic setting.

Making Contact With Other Worlds. It could be just me, but there haven't been many flying saucer stories for a while. It really is about time we sent out signals to the rest of the universe, to seek out new worlds, new civilisations. Fridges (have you noticed this?) have a very distinctive hum. Put 40,000 of them together, and you would have multiple-part harmonies. This would be interesting to aliens, I think - far more so than "The Eden Project". I mean, what self-respecting creature from Alpha Centauri is going to be attracted to a new rain-forest? They saw that millions of years ago! No, let's give them something more unusual - a loud collective hum. We'd have spaceships left, right and centre, and if we liked the cut of their jib, we could welcome them in, or elect them on to the local council. They've got quite a few unidentified flying objectives at County Hall already, so they'd fit in well.

Heritage Houses. Sorry to harp on about tourism, but let's look to the future. In twenty years' time, people will be going round saying "They had fridges like that, did they? Really? Well I never. Fridges which couldn't take a DVD player! And no mobile phone top-up machine in the freezer, either! How did they live in olden times? How did they survive? Why are you shaking your head, Grandad?" Let's make sure that Devon is the place they come to look at these historical examples of refrigeration technology. We should set up special interest sites for old electrical appliances straightaway if we want the coachloads coming down here in 2025.

No more whining about fridges then, eh? Let's be a bit more positive!

From Express and Echo