Tag Archives: Rod Stewart

Ice Cream Lies

icecream 2

What brought the memory back, was seeing a small boy wailing over his dropped ice cream tub. Stood crying, looking down at his Ice cream puddling on the floor, left clutching a sad wooden spoon as a reminder. He was crying for another and his Mum was adamant, “What did I tell you? Sit down with it I said, or you’ll drop it! And what happened? You dropped it didn’t you? Why? Because you wouldn’t sit down! Well, your not having another one!!”

Seeing that tub took me straight back to being a child, and the lengths I’d go to to try and get and talk an ice cream out of my Dad. I think, in fact I know, my Dad took a lot of pleasure out of a good wind up. And a wind up could come in many forms. With his children it took the shape of outrageous lies and stories. I know this is so. I learnt from the best and did it to my own children on many occasions. And laughed every time. My Dads exaggerations were varied and flamboyant. One of my favourates was who he went to school with, (Elton John and Rod Stewart) When asked if we knew anyone famous in class one day, my arm nearly popped from its socket, so energetic and urgent was my waving. “Yes Michael, who do you know?” asked Miss Macarthy, my teacher in Junior 1. “Actually, my dad sat next to Rod Stewart and Elton John in school,” (They weren’t separated from my father just geographically either. Rod was a year younger and Elton a year older.) And smugly proclaimed this fact, looking disdainfully at my class mates, with a pigeon chested pride, that only a 7 year old can demonstrate. Miss Mcarthy knew my dad well and just said kindly, “Very good Michael. Just sit down there’s a good lad” I was probably about 18 before I actually had that, “Awwwww you lyin bastard,” moment. The one I’m going to tell you about though is my Dads best mate, the ice cream man.

Mr. Whippy.

It was that time in the 70’s when two sound’s got an immediate reaction. The Ice Van and the Rag and Bone Man. You’d hear the Rag and Bone Man coming because he advertised his presence in the area by shouting, “RAG BONNNNNE! RAG BONNNNNNNNE!!!” And eventually he would hove into view, sat on his horse drawn cart, with all sorts of clutter on the back that his daily round had brought him. That shout would have people searching through their houses to see if they had anything they wanted to get rid of. Any stuff they didn’t want. Anything from old clothes to any old scrap. If it was worth anything at all, I can’t remember ever receiving anything of financial substance. Usually you’d make a bee-line for him if only to pet the horse. Or, if you were one of the lucky kids whose mum had some rubbish she wanted rid of, he’d hand out sweets in exchange for what you brought him. Which was all the encouragement I needed. The other sound was that magical twinkley music that the ice cream van resonated in the air, casting a spell of its own. You were never quite sure where exactly he was, you just knew he was headed in your direction, as the sound drew closer to your street. You would then be running round in a frenzy,  begging confirmation of a 99 or an ice lolly  from your mum or dad, before the van even reached your own road. Every time the music stopped you’d wait with baited breath, for it to start again, so that you  could hear whether or not he was still heading in your direction… Or had taken a different turn and the tinny, twinkley music faded, stopped, (serving some lucky fat bastard) started again, then finally disappeared into the distant evening.

When he did hit your street, there were small bodies flying out of houses from all over the place, and a queue of hyper kids would jostle out side the van. You would then spend your queuing time trying to decide if you wanted,

A cornet. A cornet with a Flake. A cornet with sprinkles. A cornet and a flake and raspberry sauce and sprinkles.

Assorted ice lollies.  An Oyster. A tub. A tub with a flake. A tub with 2 flakes.

I only ever got a screwball Just for bubbley gum ball on the bottom. I always sucked mine first to see if I liked the flavor then gave it my brother,

“Spit? No that’s ice cream. Whys my tongue blue?  Dunno. I must be dying because you won’t share your Rice Krispies!!  Snap, crackle and fucking pop doesn’t sound so good now I’m dying does it??? ”

.My personal – and I don’t say this lightly – probably Gods favourite too,

A box of flakes, in a tub, with a cornet, raspberry sauce, sprinkles  and a bubbley gum ball rammed on top.

(Just so I could suck it and pass it on) ice cream1 (Fuckin Rice Krispie Tight Arse)

I could happily have lain, draped across the serving hatch, below the ice cream dispenser, with my mouth wide, and a funnel poked in the side, to pour in sprinkles and raspberry sauce as needed, with the ice cream dispenser on OPEN.

Its surprising how quickly you learn mind. I remember  asking my Dad for a cornet, nearly swooning in my rush to get to the ice cream van before the music started up again and he drove off down the road. And my dad said,

“Course you can son.”

WooHoo! “Can I have some money dad?”

“You don’t need money son.”

“I don’t?”

“Noooooo! Have what ever you want and tell him his mate “Mick” said thanks.”

“Really Dad? He’s your mate?”

Best mate son.”

“He is? Best mate?? And I can Have what I want??”

“Yeahhh. Off you go son. Oh. And get me a cider lolly – And don’t forget to say ” His best mate Mick said thanks!”

This to the small thunder clap and retreating dust cloud, as I rocketed away.

I caught the ice cream man just before he slid his window shut.

“Whooaaaa! Mister! Misterrrrr!”

“Calm down son. I see you. What can I get for you??”

No time to think! Too many choices! keep it simple before he drives away!! Jesus Christ I’m hyperventilating!!!

I’llhavea99,Ascrewball,AtubwithaflakeandanOysterpleasethankyouverymuch!Oh!!Shit!!Andaciderlollyplease!!!”

“Jesus kid! Breath! Your going blue!”

It took a minute or two for him to sort the order, passing each item over the service hatch as he completed each work of art.

“There you go son, that’ll be – Oi!! Where D’ya think your going!!??”

“It alright mister. My dad – Mick – said it would be ok. He’s you mate see. Best Mate. He said to say “Thank You Very Much.””

There’s nothing worse in this world, than having something so splendid in your hands, close to being eaten, then having it yanked from your grasp, and being given a message to take back for your dad.

“Tell my mate -sorry, Best Mate – your dad – Mick – to “FUCK OFF.”

“Can you remember that sunshine?”

“Forget the Cider lolly mister! He can do with out!!”

I ended on my knees, arms wide in supplication, looking to heaven  shouting ” Please God! Whyyyyyyyy Arrrrrrre Youuuu takinnnnnnnnng myyyy Oysterrrrrrrrr??”  As he drove off down the road. With and angry note to the previous tinkley music. My dad was flabberghasted when I got back. “He said what?? Ahh I see what happened here. It was the wrong best mate son. I thought it was the other best mate of mine who drives the ice cream van….” My Mum and Dad laughed quite a lot about it. I got my own back. I gave all my mums knickers to the rag and bone man for a lolly pop. I think she caught him further down the street. steptoe horse

Blue Speedo’s And Tartan Scarves

blue speedos

We were usually taken clothes shopping as kids on set occasions. I used the word “taken” literally as I don’t think any of us enjoyed it.

C&A. A high street store. On a Saturday. 16 years old with much better things to do.

“Oooooh! These are nice Michael!”

My mother waving a set of blue speedos in the air.

This was back in the day when speedos were still an acceptable item of beach wear.

“Yeah mum. Fine. They’ll do.”

I had again given up the will to live on another shopping trip. Zone out. Get home. Make it ennnnnd.

“Just throw it in the basket mum and lets go. Enough is enough already.” I was thinking.

We were usually rigged out just before Christmas and/or around Easter. It was a matter of pride for my parents.
And I have to add here, that when I say it was a matter of pride, I don’t mean as a reflection of the fact that they could rig us out, but felt they had to rig us out. I do happen to know what my parents sacrificed to get us these things in life, how hard they worked.

And regardless of how this may read (Light heartedly I hope) I will forever be grateful, and hope they both know that. I hope I’ve instilled the same values and appreciation in my own children. In fact I know I have.

I’m a big believer in injecting my kids with guilt..

Easter or Christmas would be one of those periods that triggered the shopping frenzy, or  if one of us was going away on holiday with school, then that would be another reason.

C & A opposite the Arndale bus station in Manchester, was a regular venue. I can’t say I have happy memories of the place. My mum would drag us around trying on various outfits. It was never something you really wanted, but something that your mum thought made you look smart.

And always, and I mean always, we didn’t waste time with changing rooms. It was strip right there in the middle of the shop.

“Try these trousers on. Never mind people will see your underpants. People have seen underpants on telly before.

That boy over there is only wearing his underpants he looks happy enough.

(Note small boy face like thunder on the verge of homicidal rage)

Everyone wears them. Starsky and Hutch wear them. I bet they don’t give their mums gyp. Get your bloody trousers off..”

Its like there were little islands of small boys stood around in clashing coloured underwear.

Things didn’t fit me like they fitted my brother. He could slip into anything and everything flattered him. Flares were in, then Drainpipes, and I can’t say I noticed a difference in style on my frame. I think Flares were Drainpipes on my sturdy figure. And Drainpipes just made my feet go blue.

My Grandad always said I had the thighs,

“Of a big strapping elephant!”

Which was flattering, but with the best will in the world, didn’t make a 7 year old body conscious kid feel better. I was just more aware of the fact that one sudden move on my part and I could trample someone to death.

So we were dragged round various shops, trying on all sorts. It took my mum probably 4 minutes to sort my brother out. Then several hours with me working out if she bought me something 5 sizes bigger, if she could cut a foot off the leegs and take them up a bit. I know my brother hated shopping as much as I did. I remember him as a small boy of around 5, saying to my mum after one of these trips,

“Mum? When I grow up,”

“Yes son?”

“I’m going to buy a shotgun and shoot you..” (true)

(Atari Tennis rage)

That, and another time, hearing a dull, rhythmic clanging from the front garden. Following my mum out to investigate, and finding him with my Dads hammer and her prize brass vase, some 2 foot tall, a big bulbous affair, Knocking the shit out of it.

To the point of having punched 3 holes in it.

And I remember standing there with my mum wailing, and saying “Awwwww Seannnnn!! Your gonna get murdered when Dad gets in!”

But secretly thinking,

“Yeahhh! Smash it! SMASH ITTT! That’ll teach the bastards to make us take our pants off in shops!! SMASH THE FUCKING THING TO PIECES!!!”

(You can see why I lied my way through confession now – see “Bless Me Father“)

One item of clothing I was forced into wearing, was a rather dapper overcoat, that had a tartan scarf through a hoop in the back of the collar. This may have looked good on Sir AlecfuckinGuinness, but on a 7 year old, well…I spent most of my time getting shouted at for hiding the scarf. I hated it, but my mum loved it.

“You look so grown up!”

I’m seven. Seriously. Why would I want to look like I’m a 4 foot 80 year old??

Its one of those items of clothing that just irritated the life out of me. It was tartan. It made me feel embarrassed and self conscious beyond belief. We’ve all, as we’ve grown up, been in put in a situation by an adult, who’s trying to tell you,

“Whooah there. Why so upset?! It looks fantastic! Your friends are going to be so jealous!

(God, please, please strike all my friends blind..)

You look like a movie star!!” (Alec Guinness)

Yeah? I don’t see you wearing the fuckin thing mate.

Its those situations where they dress us in things they like, but things that make us painfully anxious. And its either the fact that its itchy, tight or just plain horrible to the point of a foot stamping tantrum,

I’mnotwearingitIfuckinhateit!”

(stamp!stamp!stamp!)

All because we’re worried someone we know will see us, and next day in school, well…

Its like when I was a small boy, my parents had a thing about woolly hats with huge bobbles on them, and safety mittens, with the string that connected them that ran up either arm.

Bobble hat

For one thing, the bobble was usually bigger than the hat with my head in it, so I walked around with my head drooping off to one side. If I wanted a horizontal view of something I had to flick my head upright and balance it there whilst I took a normal look around. And secondly, if you were wrestling a mate and he yanked one mitten too hard, you’d end up knocking your own front teeth out with the other fist filled mitten.

And don’t get me started on rain.

Any rain on woollen hats or mittens added about 20lb. I was nearly licking my own knee during one particular down pour. And all but wore my knuckles to the bone from dragging them along behind me.

“Awhawww Mum! can I take them off now?!”

“No! You’ll get cold!

(Don’t worry about the chapped hands and sciatica then)

And you look so smart!”

I couldn’t even see her to ask her, without having a count down and launching my head upright.

Mind you, I had the neck muscles of a buffalo by 9.

The other adverse effect this huge satellite had swinging round on my head was, as I would be walking along, trying to flick my head level at strategic points (like crossing the road – didn’t think of that when you were keeping me warm eh mum?) it could develop its own unpredictable whip depending upon how much rain there had been. I wasn’t a physicist. I was 7. What did I know about water retention in wool?? I just had to hope for the best as I whipped my head straight and hope I calculated correctly and it didn’t pass right over to the other knee, and send me through a shop window or something.

Added to this combination was my overcoat and the tartan scarf.

If Someone yanked on this they could set you off like a spinning top And with that bobble the unpredictable momentum could make you carry on for days until you finally drilled your self to a standstill. Either that, or it’d develop a sudden loss of control. like you’d see on a racing motorbike as it corners, and suddenly fishtails left and right, until it whips the rider off in the opposite direction the bikes travelling.

A few times I ended up 20 foot away from my still spinning hat, thinking, Out! I’m Out! only to be told to stop messing about and have it rammed back on my head..I knew how Michael Carleone felt

God help any kid who came within arms length of the wildly flailing mittens as you span. You could flatten your favourite sidekick without even knowing it, until you finally regained control and discovered said buddy comatose at your feet.

The kid could be concussed for the next two weeks with only a knitted imprint stamped on his face to remind him that something had happened, and have no idea what it was..

I also seem to remember a pair of tartan trousers but that may have been over exposure to Rupert Bear books. I may have repressed that memory though.

That fucker Rod Stewart has a lot to answer for.

I didn’t actually get trusted to buy something for my self till I was about 16. Up till then I was dragged out on shopping sessions. So when I was going on a school trip to the south of France it was no surprise to hear the words,

“C&A.”

There was always a dull thud to accompany these word. It was my heart hitting my boots.

So there we were in C&A, stripping off, trying all sorts on. It had got to the point of me just saying “Yes mum” as it didn’t matter what I wanted, if my mum thought I looked like Burt Reynolds in it, then I was wearing it. So, it was in with the shorts, the T-shirts, new under wear, Sun cream and some electric blue swimming trunks.

“You need a hair cut,”

Whoooooah!

I’d been here before. I once let my mum cut my hair before another previous school trip. Having tight curly hair isn’t the easiest thing to cut. You had two styles. Afro or not. I often settle for the “not”. And went to my local barber (Vinny – bless him) And then had to argue with him, on how I wanted it and on how he felt it should look.

He won every time and just cut it to suit himself. I always walked out with a box cut looking like a white Jermaine Jackson.

It was this or let my mum loose, and the one time I did, she took a pair of scissors to my hair, clutching lumps and trying to cut it close to my head. It occurred to me at the time, that the sound the scissors were making, working through my hair, wasn’t that dainty snipping sound Vinny made with his. This was a much more meaty sound. A sound of substance, like she was really getting value for money out of those scissors..

It wasn’t until I was sat at a dinner table in Italy, when I found one of my teachers staring fixedly at me, then asked,

“Are you particularly stressed about anything Michael?.

(Yeah, taking my pants off in public and letting my mum loose with big scissors.)

Because, you look like your starting with a touch of alopecia.”

Fast forward to the South of France trip.

It was a long journey by road, some 27 hours of travelling to reach our destination. A coach full of sugared up 16 year olds bouncing round they’re seats for the first 26 1/2 hours, until they started to pass out.

Amazing how revitalized 1/2 hours sleep can make you.

It also felt a particularly grown up holiday, because we were allowed to drink alcohol on that trip, as the age limit in France was 16.

When we finally arrived at our destination it was blue sky and glorious sunshine. And heat.

Straight away we were inducted in Do’s and Don’ts, shown to the tents we would be staying in then told to unpack, get changed – we were going to the beach!

So everyone rushed into they’re tents to get changed into swimwear. Clothes flying out of bags, sleeping bags rammed to the back of tents, and falling over trying to pull shoes and socks off. I finally found the blue speedo trunks my mum had picked for me, and pulled them on.

“At least they’ll look a good colour in this weather,” I thought looking for a positive.

Only to hear the lad behind me I was sharing the tent with mutter,

Fuck me.”

It turned out the trunks my mum had bought me were actually a thong.

What could I do? My shorts all more or less went see-through when wet, I reasoned I may as well bite the bullet and wear the thong.

I spent the following days allowing people to acclimatize themselves to my two pert buns framed by my electric blue eye patch. Lets face it, I wasn’t the elephant thighed 7 year old from years ago! Oh no!

I was a 16 year old in his prime!! Oh yes I was!!

So I would wear these nearly-budgie smugglers and be proud of them!

Because I had the buttocks to carry them off!

I managed a couple of days before sunburn took its toll, as it would on my expansive J-Lo like derriere.

It was big enough to catch a lot of rays. Near 80 degree burns in fact. I’m lucky to be alive!

I’m sure,

“Died of BBQ buttocks” would not read well.

Common sense finally set in and I made do with wearing my shorts over them.

Tenderly.

Obviously, I should have done this in the first place.

Which is why that particular colour Blue always reminds me of C&A and BBQ ribs.

Finally, when I heard C&A had finally disappeared from high street shopping, I can’t say I shed many tears. I can only say the thought at forefront of my mind was,

“Thank fuck. For that.”