Paintin’, flittin’ and the ice-cream of the damned

My new neighbourhood is great… if you can manage to block out the most infuriating ice-cream van in all of human civilisation.

Every day that I’m in the new house, this very ice-cream van drives up our street and all over the neighbourhood, playing its ghastly, nursery-rhyme tune at stunning volume. The noise, inside the house, is literally painful.

I have concluded that there is something unnatural about this van.

In fact, I believe that the driver is akin to the captain of the Flying Dutchman, doomed to drive his mobile confectionary outlet around the streets of Broxburn for all eternity.

Perhaps it is his punishment for crushing a child beneath those accursed wheels.

Perhaps, as he crouched over the pulped body of a five year old boy, screaming his regret to the darkening sky overhead, the ice-cream gods passed a cruel and terrible judgement.

Perhaps his journey will continue until, one day, he encounters a child who has not heard his van’s musical cacophony, despite its ear-bleeding volume… and in that youngster’s serene countenance, he will achieve some improbable salvation.


Or perhaps he’s just an inconsiderate dickhead. I leave you, dear reader, to decide.

These things – and many more – are prone to dance through a man’s mind as he applies coat after coat of yellow paint to the walls of his future child’s nursery. It’s a monotonous job, but realistically it’s amongst the least troublesome of the things I’ll be expected to do as I prepare to become a father.

I knew what I was signing up for, of course, when we began plotting to move house.

It’s an oft-repeated truth: no matter how ardently a man might agree with his partner that, “…the place was fantastic – I don’t think we’ll need to do much to it at all…” when emerging from a house viewing, he is mistaken. Once that poor, deluded soul lays eyes on his new property, the ‘show-home’ furniture now departed, he will marvel at the complex network of scuffs, scrapes and cracks that adorn the walls and be forced to concede: “There is simply no way she’ll let me out of painting this.”

Still, when compared to the prospect of rearing our offspring in our previous home, a quintessential starter flat in Gorgie Road, painting for a few days begins to look less like a chore and more like an invitation to some debauched, bacchanalian jolly paid for by a benevolent but misguided employer.

Both my partner and I have savoured the delights of urban living with decreasing frequency during our stay in the Gorgie/Dalry area. Perhaps this is an emotional evolution typical of couples easing themselves into their thirties; alternatively, it could be a reaction to the endless procession of sightseers who visit nearby Tynecastle, to sing songs of triumph or anthems of withering abuse into the wee small hours.

So, barring the odd diatribe about the damned souls who supply our neighbourhood with frozen treats, and despite the fact that I’m obliged to paint, clean and construct for the best part of a month, I’m actually quite sanguine about moving into the new house. It’s given me many firsts: my first garden, my first driveway, even my first skip (into which the remains of our old kitchen will be heaped). Frankly, I feel much more like a ‘dad’ now that I’ve hired a skip; it seems very much the kind of activity that a proper head-of-the-household should be engaging in.

What am I thinking…? Here I am idly typing away, while all around me, IKEA kits plead to be constructed. I’d best be off to find my toolkit – and begin practicing my answer to our son or daughter’s future pleas to visit the ice-cream van: “Sorry, pal; when they play the music, it means they’ve run out…”

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