Number Seven: Dropped Ice-Cream Man
by Ian Hutson
The English seaside sun is always
a generous golden paint splodge in a clear,
powder-blue sky. Surf always washes the beach
like cool champagne kissing the crust on
yesterdays apple crumble. Beach huts in
shades of faded peach and banana yellow neatly
punctuate rows of strawberry and cream canvas
deckchairs ranged along grey railings and cracked
concrete sea-defences. Elderly Bedford vans flog
ice-creams and the chocolate sauce flows like
guest-house gravy. There are Rockets and Funny
Feet and Orange Maids with damp wrappers, and
cones of vanilla and strawberry stabbed through
with Cadburys Flakes and all heavily laden
with rainbow sprinkles - and all usually in the
grasp of other peoples children.
Millicent was one such someone
elses child and she resembled a can of
croissant-dough that had burst in the sun. Her
chief charm lay in the economy of her features:
devil-red piggy eyes; snotty nose purloined from
a passing pug; a crimson slash gaping maw.
Miniature grasping hands on stubby arms stuck out
from her polka-dot toddler-kini and a pair
of legs like last winters parsnips dangled
over the edge of her weary-looking pushchair.
Like all fruit of the
smoking gonads of the not quite we classes,
Millicent was possessed of a very fine voice.
Whenever Millicent found need for some cool fatty
acids or frozen protein group or slushy omega-vitamins
she could scream and scream and SCREAM until
everyone else was sick. Millicent needed a
lot of nutrients, and she always
got what she needed.
Millicent was thus this
fine day the proud first-registered keeper of a
healthy triple-scoop avocado-fudge one of her
five a day ensemble that tottered like three
slightly seasick sea-urchins held high in a
salute to childish triumph, like some Statue-of-Libertys
torch. These soggy urchins jostled on the edge,
looked the centre of gravity right in the eye,
reached the point of no return and then plummeted
to a squishy death like some partially-melted,
cold-hearted, full-fat suicide pact.
In slow-motion Millicent
took a deep, red-faced bawling-breath.
Pedestrians paused, seagulls were sucked from the
sky. The truncheon-twirling Constable Auden
called for the surf to be silenced and the clocks
to be stopped, for the G.P.O. to cut off the
telephones and for the dog to be prevented from
barking with a juicy, plastic bone. Mr
Sunshines rather concerned hand flew to his
mouth to stifle an awful oh good gosh.
This emergency would
require the skills of an English Super-Hero.
Dropped Ice-Cream Man,
resplendent in straw boater, flannel trousers,
striped jacket and silk cravat (to hide his
turkey-neck), levitated down from the sky in that
irritating way that super-heroes often do and
squatted on the hot pavement in front of the
screaming, tearful, piggy-eyed Millicent. There
he brandished his wholly intact, truly giant
scoop of vanilla delight and uttered the soothing,
comforting, super-hero words that every Millicent
whos just dropped an ice-cream needs to
hear; Ner ner ne ner ner.
Then he flew off, stage
left, ice-cream still in hand, to much applause.