My bestie all the way through school was Louise Matthews whose family owned the local ice-cream company; and who says I don’t know how to choose my friends well. Louise and I accompanied each other to Girl Guides, Youth Clubs, Barn Dances and eventually our first forays into the seedy world of nightclubs; when we wore far too much cheap make-up and ridiculously high heels. Both of us also used to sneak our real clubbing outfits, which were deemed unsuitable by our mothers, into our excessively large bags and change in the nightclub toilets once we escaped from our overly protective parents.
One evening Louise’s Dad offered us a lift into town and as students any cost saving exercise which would result in us being able to purchase an additional Bacardi Breezer or the more sophisticated half a pint of Snakebite was a welcome bonus. However, both of us were a little disappointed when we discovered that he intended to drive us into town in the back of one of his ice-cream vans but as we knew the journey would be a short one, we reckoned that no-one would see us and thus our street-cred would remain intact.
With trepidation we hiked up our short skirts and teetered gingerly into the back of the van in a cloud of overpowering perfume; I think it may have been called something along the lines of Tramp or Harlot and smelled more like toxic waste than designer fragrance but we thought it was the teenage equivalent of catnip.
As he drove through a particularly large housing estate, we were mortified when he switched on the chimes which played “Popeye the Sailor Man”. Unsurprisingly, this drew a rather large crowd so Louise’s Dad not wanting to miss a sales opportunity, pulled the van up and asked us to serve his customers. To be fair he did suggest that we don the non-too attractive nylon overalls hanging on the van’s rear door and we reluctantly set about serving our waiting public 99’s (that’s a cornet with a chocolate flake – I know my ice-cream). We made several other stops that evening but both Louise and I drew the line at serving the crowd outside the nightclub; we wanted to hold onto what little dignity we had left.