The strange case of the disappearing ice cream van

Friday 12 Oct 2012

“I’ll name that tune in two, Tom”.

Ring any bells? Yes the treacly 80’s game show, Name That Tune, where contestants tried to out bid each other to guess the song in as few notes as possible.

Being a stroppy teenage at the time I wouldn’t admit to watching it, but I am aware of how it worked.

Now it seems that our kids have to play the game every time an ice cream van comes round.

Or at least they do if they are lucky.

Once again jobsworth officials are wrecking the very fabric of our society. Let me explain.

I was watching Newsround the other night with my daughter and a piece came on about the UK’s disappearing ice cream vans.

They said that in the 1970’s there were about 20,000 vans in the country - now there are less than 5,000.

“That’s why we don’t get an ice cream van around here anymore,” my daughter said, “I bet they have stopped him coming.”

Up until that point it hadn’t occurred to me that the Sunday afternoon chimes had been  missing all summer, but she was right.

On the programme an industry spokesman said that falling sales, increased license costs and picky local rules are making it impossible to make a living for many operators.

He cited Peterborough Council as an example.

Over the past ten years the cost of a trading license has gone up significantly and now costs in excess of £800 per year. This is a huge cost bearing in mind that you can’t sell ice creams all year round – who fancies a 99 when it is a frosty day?

Then the clipboard terrors have told the owners that they can only play their chimes for four seconds at a time.

How are the poor little tots going to know that the van is around when they only get to hear two bars of Greensleeves?

One trader actually lost his license for playing too much of the Teddy Bears' Picnic – I kid you not.

On top of that, they have devised an initiative to ‘whip the ice cream vans into shape’ so says their website.

Their plan is to:

“...reassure the public that ice cream vans which have a council plate have undergone checks to ensure that both the driver and the vehicle are fit and proper to sell ice cream in the Peterborough area. It also makes it easier for the public to identify ice cream vans should they wish to make a complaint about a trader.”

And this for an authority with a grand total of 17 vans in their area – they hardly need a big exercise to check the vans out do they? Even a Council inspector could do the lot in two days, and the contact list for them would fit on one side of paper.

Of course, if there was a huge risk from ice-cream I could understand it, but there isn’t.

The ice-cream war

Wander down the local supermarket aisle and have a look at how many overpriced tubs of ‘premium’ ice-creams there are.

Promising delicious flavours, they exude subtle aromas and even suggest an enhancement to your sex appeal!

Read the ingredients though and without fail you will come across some old favourites in there, things like unrefined fats and high fructose corn syrup for a start.

Unilever, who own most of the big brands (Wall’s, Carte D’or and Ben & Jerry’s) have even been seeking permission to use a genetically modified ingredient made from the blood of a eel in their products.

Now, I don’t see the men from the Council marching around putting prohibition notices on this stuff.

Instead they would sooner hassle Mr Whippy, creating a scapegoat for our national ire.

Now there is no way that even I could claim that ice-cream is a health food, however some are worse than others.

As it happens Mr Whippy is about the best there is.

Even though a cone of it contains 5% fat, in all there are only 164 calories, which compares favourably with 220 in a Wall’s Cornetto, or 275 in a Magnum (also a Unilever brand).

The secret is the amount of air whipped into the van version which keeps it light and frothy.

Once again, honest local traders operating a traditional business are being hounded out whilst the real bad guys are left to peddle their gloop unhindered.

If you are lucky enough to hear those two bars of Pop Goes The Weasel, shout “I’ll name that in two,” and don’t forget the nibbed nuts!

Have you got your discount yet?

On Wednesday I sent you a mail about the new Good Life Letter Shop being open, and told you that you could get a 10% discount off of everything in the store until the 25th of October.

It has been great seeing so many of you visiting our new store and also getting mails from those of you who enjoyed the experience.

If you haven’t had a look around, make sure you do quickly as some of the more popular lines are getting low in stock and probably won’t be topped back up before the end of the discount period.

So, don’t delay – use your discount now. CLICK HERE to visit the shop and use discount code GLLDISC10 in the voucher box to get a whopping 10% off of your bill.

Yours, as always

 

 

 

 

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