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English Super-Hero 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 yesterday’s 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 Cadbury’s Flakes and all heavily laden with rainbow sprinkles - and all usually in the grasp of other people’s children.

Millicent was one such someone else’s 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 winter’s 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-Liberty’s 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.

Splat, splat-splat.

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 Sunshine’s 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 who’s 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.