Ice Cream


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!