I love ice. I don’t think I’ve ever told it, but I do. For me it is one of the absolute fundamentals of domestic existence. A freezer without a bag of ice is, for me, of no more use than a kettle without water or a cigarette without a lighter. And for quite some time one bag simply hasn’t been enough. During this long hot summer my mind has been permanently distracted by the pursuit and acquisition of ice. If keeping up a steady supply of ice was an Olympic sport I’d have gold medals strewn around my neck like a considerably less attractive version of Mark Spitz. I’d be a champion. A local hero. A demi-god amongst those for whom the best they’ll ever manage is a little tray of little cubes in the top compartment, just in case Auntie Flo gets chewing gum stuck in her blue rinse. I might suggest that everyone needs to have lots of ice in their life but then that would be a foolish move, for there’d be even less for me. And that would be a burden too great to bear.
You have to be careful with an ice obsession. You can’t just throw yourself in at the deep end and expect to cope. A love of ice can easily start with exactly that kind of tray I mentioned above, the sort that comes with a freezer, but almost as a joke, like the egg tray that goes straight into the crap drawer and never sees the light of day again. There are a couple of big flaws that come with any ice tray. Firstly, the cubes are never big enough and so they vanish in the glass before they’ve even started to do their job properly. Secondly, the ice is the product if its source and so unless you have pure spring water flowing through your kitchen tap (which you don’t) you’ll end up with some pretty dissatisfying looking examples of the cold stuff floating in your beverage of choice. In the worse scenarios the cubes release flakes of limescale, which make them look like they were incubated in a lepers armpit. And that just isn’t on.
I suppose you could try those blue bags which you fill up from the tap so they look like miniature airbeds, and then place in layers on the freezer shelf. This can give you a much bigger stash to work from but then you have all the tearing of plastic and trying to get at the little bits in corners because you know they’ll only leak water into the bin if you don’t. And this leads us to another key factor to consider when it comes to ice, which is that it should be as hassle free as possible. If you’re wealthy enough you might get yourself a huge fridge freezer with an incorporated ice maker and dispenser, but if I know who you are you won’t have one of those because you’re not a branch of Starbucks. So this leaves the average house with only one truly viable option for properly sating the desire for the cold stuff, which is to buy it by the bag; ready made, ready frozen, ready packaged and readily available in any respectable supermarket. I think you can get it in ASDA too.
A bag of ice is sincerely one of the greatest things that humanity has ever dreamt up. A thing of wonder. A work of magic and miracle. I love buying bags of ice so much that as I write this at least half my modest freezer space is crammed full of them. They make me happy and fill me with fascination (I bought a bag from Majestic recently that was so big and bottomless I briefly wondered if I could cryogenically freeze myself in it and be brought back to life once the planet stops being such a shithole). It’s just the knowing that they’re there: reliable, cheap, fuss free, icy, which makes them oh so marvellous. A pull of a handle and a quick rummage around and there you have it – the chilled drink you wanted with the minimum bother. They have all kinds of unimaginative names: ‘The Ice People’, ‘Party Ice’, ‘Ice To See You’, ‘Ice In A Bag’, Sub-zero Ice Orgy Fun Sack’, but the contents are always the same – clean, cold ice. Nothing more. Nothing less. These days you can even get super-sized cubes, in case the party atmosphere is starting to tire and you need to wheel out the big guns. They try to offer some kind of exclusive, slow melt advantage, but I’m here to remind you that it is still ice and it will still melt.
And before I finish on this slightest of topics, as I write in a room so hot, during a heatwave so heavy that my armpits are alive with sweat just typing, I should flag up the reality that ice is much more than just a cold thing you put in a glass. You may like your drinks hot but I’m afraid that hot drinks just aren’t very sexy. Coffee might have the drug hit and hot chocolate might be a glorious comfort but there are very few things on earth less erogenous than a nice cup of tea. An iced drink is by default immediately a little bit dangerous. Blessed with a slice more charisma. It comes with its own unique clinking soundtrack, which changes pitch and tone as the drinker drinks deeper. I also looks divine: to watch it crack and splinter at angles and then slowly, smoothly round off before disappearing altogether is a little documentary all of its own. And the sight and sound of ice, frosty fresh from the freezer, taking the brunt of a generous shower splash of gin is perhaps the last sound I’d like to hear before I die. I hope you’ve coped in this weather. They say that a cup of hot tea is a good option to cool you down in warm weather like this, and that may be technically true, but then what the hell is the point of ice if you’re going to play that game. If you don’t have a lot of ice in your life then I’d strongly suggest you reconsider, just don’t let me catch you lurking in a freezer section of an ice vendor near me, because I’m afraid that ice is mine. All mine.
G B Hewitt. 14.08.2022