The Dreaming Arm’s occasional contributor Phil “Biffa Bacon” Larkin has written a piece on how the power of frozen dairy/londondairy products recently  helped to quell a riot on the streets of West Belfast:

PSNI landrover with full riot equipment
Belfast ice cream men on duty


It is rare to get a laugh from the news in Northern Ireland, so when a humorous item does arrive on the scene I think that it is important that we cherish it – particularly one which pricks the balloon of humourless political correctness.

Because of the daily grind of deadly seriousness over the years of the Troubles and the “peace process” we have lost, or at least misplaced, the ability to laugh at ourselves. I think that this particular news item is so refreshing, I believe that it should be sent to the blog.

On Saturday 22 May the outfit formerly known as the RUC, the now more politically correctly-named Police Service of Northern ireland (PSNI) were called out to deal with rioting on the nationalist Twinbrook estate in West Belfast.  As they passed a group of about 15 youths, the latter began throwing bottles and other missiles at the police landrover.   The police officer in the vehicle then played ice-cream van music over the tannoy system in an effort to use humour to defuse the situation – and it worked!

The youths stopped throwing the bottles.  I suppose it stands to reason that it is impossible to get fired up at anybody or anything that plays ice-cream van music!  It reminds me of the Morcambe and Wise sketch where Eric opens the window to be greeted by the sirens of an ambulance rushing past the house. He closes the window and utters the immortal line: 

“He’ll not sell many ice-creams going at that speed.”

Somewhat amazingly, the PSNI have now “admitted” that it was inappropriate to play ice-cream van music in such a situation. I believe that the officer who carried out the action should not only receive commendation for his cool, clear and quick thinking, but also be recommended for further study and an educative post in crowd control methods.  I have seen in certain TV programmes how venues for underage drinking, drug taking, and anti-social behaviour in England and Scotland have been rendered “off limits” by the simple expedient of having classical music played for a number of hours in the evenings and at night.  No “yoof” who wants to lose his/her street cred will want to hang around a joint like that. No-one is hurt, anti-social behaviour is prevented, and because classical music is educational and cultural, the human rights brigade have nothing to complain about.

However, not everyone saw the funny side of that night’s events.  A local Sinn Féin councillor, Angela Nelson, said that the officer’s actions “beggared belief.”  She continued:

“The PSNI are put on the streets to do a serious job and that is to keep order on the streets and face down antisocial elements.

This is like a sick joke.”

I beg to differ, Angela. The only sick joke is your chronic lack of a sense of humour and your clear inability to perceive the irony in this situation. It reminds me of the comments of Soviet leaders on the West before Gorbachev came along.   Had the PSNI lashed out with batons or used taser guns would you have been satisfied then?

I guess probably yes.   As it was, the police handling of the situation provided no solid grounds for complaint from the usual suspects, and that is why it is sticking in some people’s throats.   I believe that if the PSNI have discovered a truly novel way of diffusing tension on the streets, then its effects are worthy of further study.

Mr Whippy rules ok!


  1. Many people in West Belfast would accuse the PSNI of being fascists. I think in this case “fascisti gelati” would be a more appropriate term.

    It sounds like Sinn Féin were accusing the PSNI of playing the wrong notes. The police should have replied by saying “we’re playing the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”.

    Apparently the riot started after one of the youths from Twinbrook approached a PSNI officer and enquired as to the real life existence or otherwise of Sherlock Holmes and was prompltly told to “fuck away off, son and don’t be wasting my time”.

  2. So we can’t call the peelers “pigs” any more then – the new term is “pear pickin’ porkies” – or am i the only one who remembers them?

    Anyway, the stone throwing only began when the PSNI began brandishing their magnums.

  3. I’m surprised that Stoffels doesn’t have any of his usual wisdom to impart here on the situation described above? On this occasion his crusty humour would be welcome.

  4. Funny you should mention that Phil, I’m just recovering from a weekend on safari in the Kruger, surfing off the Cape while dodging the sharks, then watching the rugby and having a braai with biltong and boerwors washed down with a few cans and forced to listen to Johan and Piet’s drunken tales of daring bravado during their military service in Angola.

    The technique your police used sounds effective. If only we’d done that during all the riots in Soweto and the townships back in the day, things could have been so different!

  5. Funny you should mention “pear pickin’ porkies”, Blackwaterstown – I remember them too. If memory serves me well, they were very refreshing, but stuck to your clothes like industrial glue if you were careless enough to let some fall on you.

    Good to hear from you again Stoffels. Sounds to me that you had a weekend of intense action and nostalgia. Are you looking forward to the World Cup coming to your neck of the woods?

  6. Ciaran,

    apparently the police sergeant who rebuffed the young lad’s innocent question is now on suspension, awaiting further inquiry. That’ll teach him to swear at a minor!

  7. Blackwatertown – can’t say I’ve heard of these prickly pears, but do you know if wibbly wobbly wonders are still being produced?

    Phil – sounds like a case of political correctness gone mad. Though as a result this poor lad will go around thinking that Sherlock Holmes was a real person – unlike our very own Stoffels du Plessis who is of course very much living, breathing flesh and blood.

    Stoffels – you must have had a really tiring weekend. The Kruger National Park and the Cape are several hundred miles apart on opposite ends of the country. Yet after all that travelling and surfing you were still fit to have your barbie and be subjected to Johan and Piet’s tall stories – which must have been even more tiresome.

  8. Phil, I think I’ll be giving the World Cup a wide berth. I’m more of a rugby man. Soccer’s for ladyboys!

  9. CW – Wibbly Wobbly Wonders – (lots of laughing going on at this end) – I’d forgotten all about those. How could I? They were the impregnated-by-an-alien of lollies. They even had jelly in them – if I remember correctly.
    Very weird.
    Jelly. On a stick.
    Try saying that previous line in the spirit of Peter Kay and garlic bread.
    Garlic. Bread.
    Jelly. On a stick.
    Anyway – off to calm down.

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