Thursday, February 17, 2005

Who does that bell toll for?

There’s this new mystery in New Cross, I’ve heard it on my road twice in the last few days.

We’re in the dark, grey, guts of February and, by the gods and goddesses, it’s cold out there. Not only is the cold closing itself around my, and everyone else’s, extremities with an intensity of grip normally associated with pit-bulls, solider ants and bull-dog clips but everyone around me has the chapped nose and wheezy rasp about them of the long-term cold sufferer.

So why have I, whilst lurking in the warmth of my burrow near the New Cross end of the Lewisham Way, heard an ice-cream van playing it’s chimes twice in the last few days? Not only have I heard these chimes (the traditional, discordant ones that sound like a sack full of cuckoo-clocks and musical boxes being rolled down a steep hill) but I’ve heard the familiar whirr of an ice-cream van engine.

My burrow-mate, Clare, even saw someone approach this van last night, purchase something and disappear back in to the sterile, frozen night. What can this 'ice-cream van' be selling? Surly not ice cream? Is it a roving burger-van, filling in before the festival and fair-ground season and making do before haunting the car-boot sales this weekend? Is it delivering oily meat to the masses on the street and on demand? Is it selling soup and tea? Weed and speed? Gloves and scarves? Is it bringing much needed cheese, wine, hot pizza and chips to ones doorstep and, if so, why am I not aware of its services?

It is selling something I don’t know about to beings in New Cross that I normally do not encounter or perceive? It is like a ghostly galleon or the wild hunt or the enchanted party boats that travel the Amazon, providing entertainment for ‘the others’ amongst us and only glimpsed by mortals on clear, moon-light bathed nights?

The next time I hear it I’m going out there to catch it and see. I hope I am able to come back afterwards and let you know what I shall witness.


Transpontine said...

Well the ice cream man (or indeed woman) has got to make a living all year round, and anyway the refrigeration costs must be lower in the winter. There is a house in Pepys Road with two or three ice cream vans all year round, never seem them move mind.

Unknown said...

My brother was a man who was selling ice cream for a while, even in a hot climate he didn't make enough to pay the rent, groceries, etc. Of course, a man and van of ice cream is nice.It was nice to have cash every day, but it just wasn't enough, and he worked 10 hours a day at besides.