Who are you? Is it possible to do anything without meaning? Is it possible to do anything without the mask slipping, without broadcasting to the world Who You Really Are, to pull back the skin and ribs and show who the very core of you is? Is it possible to make a simple decision without a million subsequent consequences? Who are you? Do our choices shape us or do we shape our choices?
You are staring into the two-berth freezer-cooler in the newsagent nearest your workplace and wondering this. You are staring down at boxes upon boxes of ice lollies, ice creams and treats. You just want to cool down, don’t you? You just want to cool your mouth and tongue. No. You want to represent who you deeply are. This goes harder than a horoscope, a birth sign. Your soul is burned into this. Who are you?
Tell me your ice cream choice and I will tell you who you are. We dive into the freezer together:
The Twister is a fun and carefree ice cream/lolly mix, and I've got a lot of time for it. Are we gonna talk about the fact that you eat it like a dick? Okay, no. No, it’s a good ice cream, a good… great ice cream. Different flavours. It is an intricate thing to consume. It takes skill. I like it, I got a lot of time for it. The Twister is just sound, isn’t it. If it was a person you could invite it to a party and it would bring two bags of cans for the room and a tray of vegetarian-friendly food for everyone to enjoy. If you asked the Twister to help you with an emergency administrative job on the day of your wedding – your sister needs picking up from the airport! The cab firm cancelled! A nightmare! – the Twister would very calmly and soothingly step in, even if you didn’t even really know the Twister that well (you and the Twister met at that training day a couple of years ago – you had that good conversation about authors you were reading, didn’t you? – and you’d sort of stayed in touch even if you weren’t best mates) (the Twister "likes" a lot of your posts on Facebook). The Twister is just properly sound. The best day of the Twister’s life was when it saw Kasabian live. "They were just really fucking boss," the Twister is saying. "I loved it, mate." The Twister does not know scorn or cynicism like you do. The Twister lives a carefree life, not even knowing people eat it like they eat dick.
Anyone who actively likes a Calippo is one of those people who enjoys trips to the dentist and getting up early. They’re odd and shouldn’t be trusted. Their secret fantasy is to own and run a B&B. They’re freaks.
Hey: nothing wrong with a Feast. Nothing wrong with a lot of things, really: nothing wrong with spending a fine Sunday afternoon washing your car, or going for un nando’s du cheeké with the Kettering boys, or booking a day off work every year to go to the Grand National, or being slightly too close to your family, or calling your partner "this one" when you tag a nice couple photo of you on Instagram. Nothing wrong with standing in front of a glossy white door to show off your Saturday night outfit and taking a profile picture of that! Nothing wrong with very sincerely liking Ant and Dec. Nothing wrong with genuinely taking your responsibilities as a godparent seriously. Nothing wrong with phoning in to radio stations to win tickets to things! Nothing wrong with only being mates with the same four people you went to sixth form with and literally no one else! Nothing wrong with having a countdown app displaying the days to go until your summer holiday. Nothing! Wrong! With doing an obtuse Facebook status! About being in a bad mood! Whenever you have! A minor disagreement! With your partner! There is nothing wrong with never interrogating the edges of suburban life and instead falling into it like a newly-hoovered corner sofa in the centrepiece of a Barrett's new build home. Listen: there’s nothing wrong with any of it! There’s nothing wrong with a Feast!
I am convinced that the Cornetto is The Artist’s choice of ice cream, bar, or lolly. Behold the Cornetto and see that it is made of simple component parts: a wafer cone, like you enjoyed as a child; a firm puck of smooth ice cream; a structural rim of thin shell-like chocolate; ridges of flavour, either strawberry or choc-nut, a final flourish on a firm and immovable stem. The Cornetto is consistent, always, but it offers something more. The Cornetto is more than the sum of its parts. To me, the Cornetto appeals to the mind that looks inside for something greater. The Cornetto Eater does not walk into a cathedral and marvel at the atmosphere of wonder: the Cornetto Eater looks at the columns, at the stones, examines the tiles, runs a splendid hand over the wooden pews. The Cornetto Eater sees the building blocks of the world and asks: what if I touch them? What if I smell them? What if I rearrange them? What if I destroy them? What you have, then, is creation. What you have, then, is art. What you have then: what you have, then, is a Cornetto.
ANY ICE-CREAM VERSION OF ANY CHOCOLATE BAR
You fear and reject change. When the sun comes out you do not slip into shorts or a light floating dress: you instead dress stoically in the same outfits you always do, jeans, socks and T-shirt. When the temperature rises you simple go for a slightly colder version of the same chocolate bar you already eat. Why do things have to change, anyway? We have our routines and we work hard to establish them. We should just throw everything out of the window when the parameters change? Do you think I care about the sun? Do you think I will be cowed by the sun? I will not. I will not bend my back to that vile ball. (You have had the exact same lunch order for the past consecutive 300 working days. When your housemate uses "your mug" a small, quiet screeching sound goes off in the very back corner of your mind. You have not, ever really, found an album that can replace the feeling of listening to Day & Age for the first time in 2008.)
Listen, I have a theory, and it’s this: only rich dudes want to fuck feet. (At this point I have to put in all the usual disclaimers when someone makes a whimsical comment about fucking feet: I’m sure all genders get horny for feet. I’m sure people at every salary level get cummy for toes. But the overwhelming wind here indicates: only rich dudes want to fuck feet.) So we have established only rich dudes want to fuck feet (if you want any proof of this: ask any five of your girl mates if they’ve ever had a lad in their DMs offering them a prohibitive amount of money for photos of their feet. Ask! It livens up a pub trip!)
So: foot fuckers get money. But why is it that people who get money fuck feet? My theory is: at a certain income level, sex becomes easier to obtain. At that point, it’s not hard to imagine a long hard journey into depravity: as sexual possibilities unfurl in front of you like a flower, you have to escalate through them to ever get off. First you have one sexual partner, then two, then go to one of those posh west London blow-bang parties, then someone does coke off your arse, &c. &c. Years go by. What gets you off, anymore? A single sexual partner, in the missionary position? No. Two of them, writhing in a paddling pool full of oil? Passé. No, at that point, very little can get you off. Your sexuality goes full circle. You come back round to feet. Are… are you horny for feet? Horrible, ugly little things, aren’t they. Like if your knuckles somehow grew other, worse knuckles. Fuck that. Fuck the weird little gap between that. Celebrate how rich you are.
Anyway, what I am saying is the Funny Feet ice cream lolly might not be exactly the horniest thing for you, on your salary, but there’s currently some lad in the sex-part of Bob Bob Ricard going absolutely fucking mental for one.
The choc ice occupies a certain socio-economic strata that is hard exactly to define but can broadly be painted as: extremely cheap things that are also absolutely brilliant. So like: is there anything better than a cold pint at a Wetherspoon pub? Is there anything like a hot bag of chips consumed by the handful at a bus stop? Is there anything better than a choc ice? Choc ices aren’t for people with a comfortable amount of money on them. Choc ices live inside your overdraft with you. Choc ices are for people who want to have fun.
The Fab lolly is for children and idiots, sorry. The Fab lolly is the bridge between the jolly, creamy ‘99s and Screwballs of your youth, and the more sophisticated lollies and iced treats of your adulthood. You cannot just leap from Mr Whippy to gelato: you need to wobble along the plank of the Fab lolly first. The Fab lolly tells you it is OK for something to be two textures at once. That hey, three flavours can coexist on the same stick. The Fab lolly holds your hand with a mess of sprinkles, and tells you it is OK to leave childhood behind. Anyone who actively chooses to eat one after the age of 12 should be in prison.
The Mini Milk connoisseur is as good and honest as the Mini Milk itself. The Mini Milk is a pole of milk frozen around a stick. A simple pleasure for a simple boy. It comes in the three most fundamental ice cream flavours: white, pink and brown. It satisfies a good old-fashioned icy thirst. The Mini Milk is mopping its wetted brow out on the veranda with a moist flannel, rocking back and forth as the sun sets over the dust. The Mini Milk fixes things with its bare hands and a simple tray of tools. The Mini Milk craves an old time, a simpler time. The Mini Milk gets headaches when its around WiFi too much. "Rock and roll," the Mini Milk says, gruff in the orange haze of the sun. "It’s the only music that means anything." The Mini Milk would prefer to be buried in an unmarked grave, like its daddy before it, and its daddy before that.
Remember when you were a child, but a sweet innocent child, slathered in thick white suncream and a cap, left to play outside in the searing heat of a summer’s day, the green grass around you, the perfect blue of the sky, the distant chattering of birds, the over-there glee of other children playing, the noises of summer thrumming across to you as if travelling through thick water, and then you heard it, that unmistakeable tinkle, the clang of a bell that was failing followed by those notes, those notes— the ice cream man, the ice cream man! The ice cream man is here!
TOBLERONE ICE CREAM
Best part of your holiday is the two-hour browse through duty free before you even get on the fucking plane.
You know when you were a kid and your mum would go to the shops and ask if you wanted anything and you – greedy little goblin that you are, the sugar sticky on your hot pink little hands – you would say "want treat!" or "want yummy!", and then she would come back and make a whole display of unloading the shopping piece-by-piece-by-piece, the bags rustling with each milk four-litre inched out of them, each bag of rice and tray of oven-ready escalopes, and then finally it would come round for treaty-time, and she would reveal with a single devilish curl of the hand: one shiny apple, which she would present to you with a shit-eating smile, the horrid bitch?
What I am saying is: if you want a bit of fruit, mate, have a bit of fruit.
What I am saying is: if you want a sorbet, mate, then have a fucking sorbet.
What I am also saying is: a Solero is a cop-out in terms of both ice cream and enjoyment, stop giving your body an apple when it clearly wants a treat, you live one brief and finite life, you are dying by the atom by the second by the day, eat something fucking covered in chocolate about it you odd cunt.
’99 W/ FLAKE
It was never the same, man, but it was always the same feeling— the van, painted half baby-blue or hot-pink or mint-green, muralled with off-brand cartoon characters, freckled with stickers of all sorts of cold treats – a "Zzzap!", a "Mr. Snow", the "Blue Brain Rotter", the "Boat Sundae", cans of 7up, cold from the ice box – but you had a hot little pound coin in your hand and you knew exactly what you wanted: a ’99, single flake, red sauce. ’99, single flake, red sauce. You chanted it to yourself in line like a spell, so urgent for it you felt like you might explode. “’99, single flake, red sauce. ’99, single flake, red sauce.” Your heart was beating hard in your chest. This is the most you’ve ever focused in your life. Then you got to the front of the queue, and—
Fruit split is basically the big-hot-tray-of-chicken-nuggets-for-tea of the ice cream world: fine if your nan’s offering it to you, or as a bi-yearly treat, or to satisfy the particular niche cravings of a summer hangover, but if you’re having it more than once a week I’m going to have to get all your mates together in a room and we’re all going to quietly cry why we tell you that It Can Get Better, If You Just Let Us Help You.
ANY SORT OF ICE CREAM SANDWICH
I do like a good ice cream sandwich – i.e. a wad of ice cream crammed between two soft-bake cookies or biscuits – but they also feel inauthentic to the ice cream experience. Do you know what I mean? Like, they are too much. You know how an ice cream sundae exists, and takes simple soft serve ice cream and dresses it up extravagantly with tinned fruit and nuts and sprinkles, and syrups, and sparklers, and then it becomes less of an ice cream (a small treat) and more of a full-sized event dessert? That’s sort of how I feel about the ice cream sandwich: it is trying too hard. Anyone who chooses the ice cream sandwich – when other, more simple and straightforward ice cream options are available – is, I’m afraid, an extra bitch.
I remember the holidays of my youth. The first time we went away I was five, and we stayed in a caravan in Cleethorpes. I remember the beach being made of grey sand covered with green scabs of seaweed. I remember the clutter of trailers parked next to each other, the heat of a thousand families all watching a cheap travel TV on the same dusky Saturday night. I remember wearing a tie-dye T-shirt with a cartoon shark on it, and yellow sunglasses w/ brim, and doing the peace sign a lot in photos, and digging a big hole on the beach, and pestering my parents relentlessly, day after day after day, for a Dracula-brand ice cream lolly from the caravan park’s central hub: a cola-flavoured frozen layer around a blood red jelly-and-ice-cream centre. Things were easier back then, weren’t they. Ice creams were easier. Why did they discontinue it? I really really liked that lolly, 25 years ago. Why do things change? Why are things allowed to change?
FRUIT PASTILLE LOLLY
You know what? The Fruit Pastille lolly doesn’t fucking mean anything. Just enjoy it. Enjoy something for once! Stop thinking about everything! It’s a lolly, you fool! You fool!
Will anything ever really taste as good as the ice creams of our childhood?
White Magnum, Almond Magnum, Mint Magnum, Milk Chocolate Magnum: a solid ice cream for heroes, for lads, for history’s toppest shaggers;
Any Other Variant of Magnum: for sexual deviants and maniacs, for the deranged and the misshapen. Thanks for listening.