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Rhubarb from the garden

Friends with benefits

I had a very fortunate childhood. Now don’t get me wrong, we weren’t rich, we didn’t have fancy stuff or go abroad but what I did have was the finest of best mates. She loved all the things I did, bikes, laughing and finding new dens and to top off this amazeballs friendship her dad was also an ice cream man. I loved my friend and I loved her dad, not in a weird way but in a ding dong da da the ice cream man, sorry, I mean

your dads home, yay way!

We weren’t the only ones who loved this gorgeous Sicilian though. We had to wait in line after all the neighbours had been round to fill up their Tupperware with the deliciously cool whipped ice cream left over from a hard day’s graft. Never has tea at a friends house been so good…even to this day I can taste the cheese and tomato sandwich followed by a massive bowl of her dad’s leftover ice cream with strawberry sauce.

Other classics from the van, if we spotted him outside school, were the cider lolly with a five pence blob, the blob being ice cream. What a combination! Or the screwball, remember the screwball? Two balls of bubble gum at the bottom of a small plastic conical container then filled to the top with ice cream and generously covered (he was my best mate’s dad after all) with loads of sauce and nuts if so desired. “Extra sauce? Oh yes please don’t mind if I do Gio, thank you very much”

For grown ups though, the choices were quite different. Grown ups favourites were often a Mivvi (strawberry split lolly) or a go on treat yourself a ninety nine (if you’re not familiar with this gourmet British delight it’s an ice cream cornet with a flake in it). Everyone was happy for the next five minutes, unless a little kid dropped his cone… Then there was trouble and epic sadness and tears could follow. However Giovanni was nice and would have replaced it for free..what a hero.

Giovanni died last year. I miss that man. Not as much as my friend misses her papa. But to celebrate his life’s work and his glorious ice cream van bringing happiness to the lives of children all over the neighbourhood, I will always follow the ice cream code: stop me and buy one as instructed by one these classic vehicles.




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