Mr Whippy

This morning, as I sat sleepily in the cold kitchen sipping on bitter Nespresso, a news story came on the radio about this ice cream van mafia attack.

My maternal granny had an ice cream van for a while. It was before my time, but my uncle, who was a boy at the time, tells stories about finishing off the day’s leftovers after supper. Presumably this was done in the house, though I have always been amused by an image of him sitting in the dark, in the back of a van, silently going through the nearly empty tubs.

Granny’s main problem as an ice cream vendor was that her prices were rather on the low side. This made her popular with the local children, but did not do wonders for her profits. It also brought her to the attention of the local North West Leeds ice cream cartel, who were enraged by her habit of turning up at their most lucrative pitches and casually undercutting them.

Eventually, apparently, it all came to a head. Driving through an estate, Granny’s van was boxed in by a couple of other ice cream vans. Words were had, and Granny decided that perhaps the gelato business wasn’t for her after all.

As my own local ice cream van man trundles down Cardozo Road, cranking out his own funereal version of Greensleeves, I have often wondered if he, too, is part of a merciless crew of territorial gangsters. He seems such a pleasant fellow, but you never can tell.

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