THE ICE CREAM VAN
by Andrew Hennessey
Summer in the Ancient Kingdom of Fife near Dunfermline the so-called spiritual heart of Scotland is a time of high spirits.
I say this because there were rumours that the naval shipyard at Rosyth was allegedly shipping in substances destined to be abused.
I had also heard a story from Dangerous Dan that a man who was going to spill the beans on what sort of stuff was under the deck plates met with an unfortunate accident.
Well maybe not an accident for he was allegedly shot in his car in a lay-by in northern Scotland.
James Bond stories and the agents of Dr No are all part of the scene when you have big stuff going on amongst civilian populations.
It was true that on some nights there were convoys of all white vehicles driven by men in black uniforms wearing black baseball caps.
They would snake along ferrytoll road past the deep underground base heading out to supply some unknown parties with important assistance.
Perhaps this was the research division of the rather decrepit yard shipping out important parts during the refurbishment of the outlying cold war deep base.
Much of this, which included World War 2 fuel bunkers was being demolished, and somewhere underground massive scaling and cleaning with industrial detergent was underway.
Why bother cleaning it if it was officially getting demolished ?
Who would be walking about down there today when the place officially went on the public market in the year 2000AD.
The occasional vent over the deep base reeked like a smelly laundrette and I was surprised to smell the same smell coming from somewhere around a cottage under the Forth rail bridge at North Queensferry a couple of miles to the west.
The extent of underground Rosyth though was traditionally up for question, as the military were only prepared to disclose a few facts about old outlying military infrastructure.
It was alleged to extend up to the UN command centre four miles north
at Pitreavie near Dunfermline, connected via underground railway.
From two independent sources though it was apparent that there was a big deep twenty two level base some of it flooded at the lower levels and also that many galleries were full of old world war two munitions connected by a little railway.
The person disclosed that his job was to take the little train around breaking out the occasional box of grenades for example and if on testing a couple one did not explode .. then the whole box he alleged was dumped in the Firth of Forth estuary.
The other more seedy side to military activity at Rosyth naval yard was the allegation that on refitting a nuclear submarine in the 1970’s the engineers had tried to cut corners in their schedule by attempting to inappropriately lift a Polaris submarines nuclear reactor sending it crashing into the yard and the harbour.
Much of the subsequent cancers and illnesses were allegedly covered up.
There is also the possibility that nuclear waste may be long term stored and managed there in primitive conditions too.
However, I could not find any local statistics about the leakage of Radon gas into the urban environment above through the porous rocks.
My other military contact suggested that I stayed off the beach there intimating that if I was looking for a ‘hot beach’ that I should try Bermuda.
There were therefore probably reasons for incessant civilian and military police patrols and people impersonating police officers with no numbers on their lapels or who wore star trek federation badges as part of their community efforts.
Colditz-like searchlight sweeps on the local hills at night during the contractors operations suggested that there was still sensitive and important infrastructure to keep secure.
It wasn’t until I started seeing the flying saucers that I recognised that there was something ‘going on’.
For example the big silver saucer shaped ship over the hill at Inverkeithing that was low enough to bounce a can of coke off.
In broad daylight in blue skies and about one hundred feet above my head a craft about one hundred yards in diameter making no noise and drifting over at its leisure.
There were small luminous blue white lights flying in and out the housing estates at night and indeed some would chase me down the road.
Were these the residents or were they their visitors.
Who was it that stayed there that had caused a huge twenty year old ash tree to lift all if its major roots out of the ground and into the air like some giant octopus ??
There were small luminous blue white lights going in and out of a square box shaped UFO that hovered for fifty minutes over the Castaland hill site of the base.
The box UFO, about the size of a minibus, rectangular with a central door and what looked like a little alien bus conductor selling tickets to incoming blue white orbs.
There were about fifteen blue-white orbs floating for several minutes outside the ship as it silently hung there.
It was a clear starlit night and there were some high clouds and the little ship generated some translucent cloud to slightly camouflage its form.
This was ineffective.
Another night there was a low flying passenger jet, looking like a Boeing 737 airbus skimming the same hill making no noise with no lights on at all.
It just slowly swished over the housing estate in the most uncredible way.
I was starting to get the picture or rather, the hologram.
Yes, there did seem to be something ‘going on’.
Sometimes when you start looking for things you can let your fertile imagination create all sorts of delusions. I started getting the idea after being chased down the local road by a hawk that maybe the wild life around here was a bit hostile. The film ‘the birds’ by Alfred Hitchcock being a case in point.
It seemed to me that every morning I woke up there were large noisy crows sitting on my roof sounding off the moment I opened my eyes.
Well there was that and this strange whine.
I looked for the source of it in the local old dockyards but there was no such industry any more.
It seemed very close to home too.
The birds though in this neighbourhood seemed a bit agitated so maybe they were being irritated by this machine.
I opened my eyes one morning to hear the crows at it from the houses over twenty yards away. They were loud as usual.
Feeling a bit peeved at my wakeup call, I imitated them quietly making somewhat derisory Donald Duck noises.
Next moment there are two angry crows slamming against my bedroom window and flapping against the glass whilst screaming their fury. They intentionally flapped against the glass, screaming for several seconds.
Who or what had gotten into the local wildlife ?
The local parkland adjacent to the huge fuel bunker demolition project had belonged to the military in the days that they had occupied the various big houses on the hills.
Indeed there were still signs of a herd of deer and other attributes of game farming left behind when the Navy had moved out.
The local paths led through trees and berry bushes along the shore road and sometimes it could be seen that the wind had picked up masses of little four inch twigs and woven and laid them into artistic artwork that might be seen on the BBC television show for children called Blue Peter.
Though some of it did seem to look very sophisticated.
There were chequered boxes full of parallel twigs and other boxes with twigs at odd angles like some sort of hieroglyphic.
I marvelled at the natural creativity of random and unintelligent forces.
I noticed that a big old dead tree had some large boulders on top of it and recognised that a dump truck from the fuel depot demolitions must have dumped it there.
The next day though the tree had been moved further up the path and other boulders put on top of it and that rather intrigued me as to what the local kids were on.
The demolition contractors were not in fact using this land to dump, as it was a designated brown site nature reserve.
The local kids had to be getting their porridge oats to be making weights like that.
Maybe it was the kids who were designing these twig tapestries full of sophisticated looking pseudo-linguistics.
Wandering through the woods I came to a very strange piece of art and design.
It was to all intents and purposes a sculpture made out of junk.
It wasn’t ordinary junk though and the whole contraption seemed to have a purpose.
The junk sculpture some of it arrayed on a bush was made out of yuppie lifestyle artefacts such as the ski jacket on the bush and certain kinds of diet choices such as food containers and a car hub cap belonging to that income bracket.
The whole contraption was wired together like an electrical circuit and all the wiring then emptied into and was shoved into an empty bottle of yuppie vodka.
This seemed a very strange cocktail of aspirations and intentions and it was as if by some voodoo magic that the juices out of these artefacts were being stripped and their social essences were being squeezed and transferred into the bottle of blue moon vodka.
This was a recipe for an alien cocktail of blue moon vodka and essence of yuppie … maybe called the ‘skiing doo’
Maybe some very creative and misunderstood kid genius was just having some fun in a twisted way.
Beyond the woods the old iron railings ran around the cold war facility and following those it led to the activity at the huge depot that was being demolished.
There was a gateway in the iron railings beyond that that led to a shortcut home through the trees.
I noticed that one of the workmen had somehow locked that.
I said somehow because what I saw I couldn’t really explain.
The lock plate was totally encrusted with rust, and the bolt had been wedged tightly and immovably against the gatepost by inserting a very thick metal screw under the bolt.
On the way under the bolt though, the big screw had to have been hammered into place to wedge it in place by an act of friction.
With that rust and available space under the bolt, friction had to be encountered and overcome by more force which would then displace and bend the mild steel lock plate under the bolt as the screw got wedged into place.
On the way in it ought to have created a furrow in the rust revealing fresher metal.
The screw had to have been hammered into place in order to warp the metal lock plate directly under the bolt but there was no mark or disturbance of the rust on the locks surface. Not one scratch or furrow.
That just didn’t seem right.
In order to bend light plate steel with force, rust ought to have been scratched or displaced.
Whatever base contractor security guard had inserted that wedge appeared to have defied the laws of physics and rematerialised the lock.
This was all a bit suspicious.
Things were getting a bit desperate when I was stopped by the police on the roadside and informed by them – one of them wearing his community star trek Federation badge - that ‘a man exactly fitting my description had been seen by two reliable witnesses opening the door of a moving car and accosting the passengers therein.’
Would I mind being detained in a cell with the air conditioning on cold for four hours whilst they checked things out? Etc
I of course had no option but to comply.
Apparently I had been seen by these same witnesses swinging from the struts of the Forth road bridge too, no doubt eating a banana in a careless manner.
This stuff was comedy.
This was ridiculous.
I went home to sulk … things were just getting out of hand and to make matters worse a guy in Edinburgh alleging to work for a company called Black Arts Computing had deliberately junked my two new computers with boot viruses, locked and encrypted partitions and killfiled my Active X stuff etc and, some clown from Edinburgh had left a message on my answer phone that I later turned into a rave tune that she had a ‘bad vibe coming through and that I was not to drive my car, at least not fast.’
That was fine because somebody had come by in the middle of the night and totally trashed it into an unroadworthy wreck beyond my financial means to repair.
I needed cheering up – maybe some comfort food.
Then to my utter amazement a new Ice Cream Van had entered the housing estate and it was playing a tune that I hadn’t heard for years.
The tune was the Teddy Bear’s Picnic….
If you go
out in the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go out in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.
Picnic time for teddy bears,
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today.
Watch them, catch them unawares,
And see them picnic on their holiday.
See them gaily dance about.
They love to play and shout.
And never have any cares.
At six o'clock their mommies and daddies
Will take them home to bed
Because they're tired little teddy bears.
If you go out in the woods today,
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely out in the woods today,
But safer to stay at home…’
Ok Ok, ice cream for my inner child who no longer wants to go and play in those woods … I bounded out my front door with my pound coin up the grass to the side of the ice cream van.
I did not recognise this vehicle at all – this was totally new.
I’m six feet tall but even standing on my tip toes the top of my head never reached the height of the sales counter of the van …
Inside the van, the older lady driver was a small lady who had handicapped features as if she had Downes Syndrome.
This was wonderful to see someone with such potential for mental incapacity in charge of such a huge diesel motor and cash and catering.
I asked for my ice cream cone … the street was empty and I the only big kiddy at the van and realised that the sales counter of this van was approximately seven feet off the pavement.
It had to be the most ergonomically uncommercial ice cream van ever manufactured and it also didn’t have a lot of confections on display either.
It had no posters or sales charts, no price lists, no colourful illustrations. It was all white fixtures and fittings.
Real kids would have to stand on each other’s shoulders to make their order.
The little lady served me the ice cream cone and as I walked away having paid her the coin, I licked the ice cream and discovered that it was watery and tasteless.
I never again saw that particular van.
I never saw it take off.
Whatever those teddy bears were on … I’ll be having some of that too.
Not too long after that I put my house on the market and eventually got it sold. It was a great relief to leave such a surreal and badly behaving place.
It was more obvious to me than ever that the powers of Light were looking after me.