Brexit, hung parliament, Mr Whippy. These days, there is a lot to write about. Mr Whippy is the name of the ice cream van, which came to the care home today. People in Britain will be familiar with ice cream vans, because they have been around for decades.

A few words of background for readers, who are yet to experience the joys of Mr Whippy and his friends. The main product line is an ‘ice cream’ with a Cadbury’s 99 Flake. The ‘ice cream’ is a white, creamy substance, quite soft and not like ice cream. The 99 Flake, in my childhood, made it all worth it. Now, nothing would make me eat the ‘ice cream’.

On summer evenings, the ‘Ge-diddily-dang-gedong’ would drive down Pear Tree Avenue, and it was exciting. Zoom, Fab, then Walls launched Cornetto – there was so much to tempt us kids. The York version was called Mr Softee, always seemingly a Mr.

Back to Mr Whippy, a white and pink Ford Transit, with the following text above the cab ‘Yorkshire’s Number One Ices’. Of course, those words got me thinking, what with six years in quantitative market research. On what basis do the Mr Whippy people make this claim? Market share in Yorkshire, best taste in Yorkshire, most liked on social media? How do they know? Have they ever been challenged by Unilever and Nestl√©? Do potential ice cream consumers in Hertfordshire care that Mr Whippy is Yorkshire’s Number One? They might, if Yorkshire was known as a place of refined ice cream taste. For what it’s worth, I disagree with Mr Whippy’s claim. Capaldi’s had a small trailer in Parliament Street in York, selling proper ice cream. Very good. I think that Mr Whippy originally came from Yorkshire, and they didn’t paint over it and write Hertfordshire.

The words ‘Freshly made just for you’ are on the side of the van, below the serving window. Of course, the ‘ice cream’ just comes out of a machine. The real ‘freshly made’ is building your order – sauce, sprinkles, paper or real cone, Flake, single or double. Brilliant!

I watched everyone enjoy their 99, seeing the paper cone and strawberry sauce for the first time in a while. The serving guy was very friendly and it’s great to see a tradition in good shape.

We are facing a challenge, because Jane can’t lift with her right arm. Not what you need when you’re looking after two children on your own.

Towards the end of the day, I now have some breaths where I have to make an effort. Ho hum. I am noticing more tone in my legs. They stick out in front of me, and I can’t move them. Uncontrolled, unproductive coughing is very annoying, especially when I am trying to use the head controls on the wheelchair and eat. The laughter, which I can’t stop, gets in the way. Dribbling in the heat. Uncomfortable overheating. Is this me?

If you are visiting the UK, do try a 99, so you appreciate other ice cream more.


Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

2 thoughts on “99”

  1. On the beach in Cornwall, Finn and a bunch of other kids all made their way to the ice cream van – Grandma was paying! A smorgasbord of iced options. And the choice for each and every child was…….the 99 – Mr Whippy would’be been proud! X

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