'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Pavlov's Bells

Why do we eat less ice cream and sweets today when they are much more readily available?

Photograph by Daniel Jackson

One of the daily rituals aOxgangs Avenue was the sight, sound ansmell of the regular ice cream vans which visited us. There were vans which visited on a daily basis and others which were like swallowsarriviniearly summeand departing at the start of autumn.

Our favourite ice cream van in Oxgangs was Tony's who ran his businesfrom a large, blue van. Tony wasn't his real name; it was actually Mario. Was it his own business or diMario worfor someone? Mario scored a ten for his film star looks, dark hair and flashing broweyes-a bit like Seve Ballesteros; however that dropped to perhaps a six or a seven because when he emerged from the van he was quite tiny. I only ever saw him from outside the van from where he looked down on us below, so I was never aware of his diminutive height until years afterwards wheLes Ramage told me.

Mario was a lovely guy. He had that great gift, you always felt that when he serveyou, that you were his favourite customer. His van always looked quite classy and clean. The ice creawas good. In addition to the ice cream I went through long phases of buying Topicsand also packets of Oddfellows. wouldn't thank you for the latter today, quite medicinal. For many yearTony's Ice Cream Van appeareafour o'clock opposite The Stair, on the other side of the road. This was nicely timed for just after school. And then in the evening, the musical chimes could be heararound seven o'clock, but now on The Stair's side where he parked outside 4 Oxgangs AvenueThis was perfect timing for a post tea, pudding.

The other ice cream van which visited us regularly was Jola's-a most odd name. There was less of a relationship there; instead it was more of a transaction. The ice creawasn't particularly nice; however we enjoyed the

Payne's Poppets. I naturally thought there was only one Jola‘s ice cream van. However, on one occasion at Morningside Road I thought I was seeing double-two stationary Jola's vans were parked in a line. I guess they were taking stock on board; one served Oxgangs whilst the other must have served another community.

The irregulars were Mr Bongo who served up bongos. Theswere hard frozen balls of ice creacovered in chocolate on the end of a stick. Paul Forbes told us a suspicious story about one of the mewho operated the van.

The other more interesting vawas Mr Whippy who only seemed to ply his trade in the summer months. He always kept the van’s engine running. The combination of diesel, the distinctive ice creaand the summer heat was a powerful mixture. The ice creawas good and it was magical to see the way it emergefrom the tap and the expert way the vendor curled the ice cream on top of the cone.

Tara Cottage Garden, Jamestown, with ruined Free Church in background; early evening, Saturday, 22 September, 2012 (Peter Hoffmann)

Ice cream vans are a rarity nowadays-particularly here in the Highlands where I live today. Occasionally, on a quiesummer's evening, drifting across from Strathpeffer to Jamestown carried on a zephyr breeze we hear the sound of musicachimesAbout six years ago when visiting Mother at StenhouseEdinburgh I got a lovely surprise tsee Mario driving along in an ice cream van. This time the van had his own name on it; although his hair was grey, he lookeas handsome as ever. Atticus and d’Artagnan were both there and were thrilled because they'd been brought up hearing about the novelty of iccream vans.

(d'Artagnan and Atticus on Pentland Hills-next stop Lucas!, circa 2005)

(d'Artagnan and Atticus in Australia-on their way for an ice cream!, January 2006

So, today with fridges at home and more disposable income to spend on bumper packs of sweets and chocolate, why do some of us not eat confectionery quite as often? Perhaps, it's because we no longer hear the sound of Pavlovian musical chimes to draw us in.

Postscript: Mario Angelucci (‘Tony) died peacefully on 21, May, 2008 at St Columbas Hospice.


Alan B said...

I remember Tony the Icecream man who came into the carpark at Oxgangs Grove throughout the 70's. Wonder if it was this Mario you mentioned. Living up on the top flat at 19/7 Oxgangs Avenue, you'd hear the dingdong tune as his van came into the car park and beg for some money from mum or dad or if you were already playing outside you'd shout 'MUM!' hoping she'd hear and come to the window and throw down some money but usually we had to run up the stairs then run all the way back down again by this time Tony was driving away! leaving me standing or half heartedly running after him...this happened quite a lot. Best Icecream though was the '99' with the chocolate flake stuck in it.

Anonymous said...

We were just reminiscing about Oxgangs at the Sunday dinner table Toni's real name was Mario Angelucci and I always remember him parking at Firrhill School and matter what you never got any change if it was 10p or less, Toni would always throw down a couple of chews or something to round it off ! Happy Daze!