Monday, 30 April 2007

Gennie from the box

First it was Gennie from the Cage. But the little super-silent power behind the creation of endless milkshakes, hot chocolates and fairy light configurations seemed all wrong for the old contraption. That had been built to keep the Big 6.5kva Beast (inherited from Eddie) at bay. The new generator, I finally decided, needed something a little more elegant to house…’her’. A market trader buddy of mine recommended Steve down in Shooters Hill…and therein started off the most classic case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

I wanted a stainless steel number, with a roller mechanism whereby you could take the entire shelf off, with the generator on it, thus losing unwanted space for festival pitches, etc (and also so as to be able to open the rear doors and retrieve all manner of treasures lost down the back during enthusiastic milkshake sessions). ‘Yep, no problem’ said Steve and then proceeded to take the most unimaginable length of time to produce the thing.

When it finally arrived (after one aborted attempt at delivery involving a crucial section not having been welded properly…and near destruction of the long-anticipated masterpiece) it was the most beautifully constructed little box you ever saw. Bits flipped up here and hinged over there, holes were strategically placed, air vents in place and the whole thing shimmered and seemed right at home bolted onto Jimmy’s rear bumper.

And then I used it. We had a job to do for a store in town. The staff had all been working super hard and needed treats. I baked Black & White cupcakes, Millionaire’s shortbread and some chocolate chip cookies, loaded in the ice cream, fired up the gennie and off we went. Further into our journey, as the record-breaking April heat beat down on us, so, unfortunately, was it beating down on the steel cage. There wasn’t exactly an explosion but there might have been one if I hadn’t heard the choked, rasping sounds of the little caged gennie gasping for help from its hot hellish box.

I managed to style it out and carry on, no harm done to the ice cream thanks to my very handy eutectic plates in the freezer. But now, as I investigate further, not only will I have to impale the box with a series of heat rescuing holes, but the gennie is absolutely screwed. It sounds like a dying tiger, belching out pained involuntary growls. And the only person who can fix it is in Nottingham.

Did I ever mention that these sort of problems are not in any way my bag? What I need is a little practical person living in the corner cupboard of the van and who comes with me wherever I go, drilling holes and fixing stuff along the way. If anyone knows someone….?

Something from the weekend

It’s official - April 2007 has been the hottest ever since they first started counting 348 years ago. While Australia and other hot countries freeze, we tromp down to the beaches, bracing our skin for a good roasting…well, kind of.

The sun fanciers (AKA everybody) were out in full weekend mode - on Saturday in Acton and then yesterday at Brick Lane. Gees, what a difference a few miles makes. In the West we have the most extraordinary bunch of people I’ve seen in a while. Some perfectly regular, others, not so much…

nd over East we’re talking about an all day runway show of looks that you can’t quite believe are happening. Speaking of fashion, I was rung up by Vogue the other day. They are doing a piece on lady van drivers and wanted to set up a shoot with me and Jimmy. ‘Brilliant!’ I said, ‘who else have you got?’ and was thrilled to discover there’s a company called Lady Gadriver - an all female team of handywomen (I could use some tips).

They wanted to shoot me somewhere urban and found a place under the Westway. A make-up artist arrived at 6.30am to do my hair and slap and then we drove to meet the others at the location. Most of the (four hour) session was spent taking pics of me eating my wares with a big cheesy grin on my face. The most challenging shot being up on the roof (hadn’t tried that one before and it gave me the opportunity to relieve Jimmy of a cheeky little teabag that seemed to have taken root up there) - I had to clamber up with three ice creams (chocolate, Mexican chocolate and mocha FYI) and lay into them lasciviously. After about half an hour of this, a few ice cream changes and a whole network of brown sticky lines streaming down my arms, I felt a bit sick (I don’t recommend it).

Oh, and now let me introduce you to the latest in deliciousness on wheels - my friend Simon has decided to bring Latin American street food to town with Jesus, the mint green dream machine. Look out for Luardos cruising around this summer!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Onwards and upwards...

Hey choc-van fans, I haven’t penned any e-words in eons. There is the dubious matter of my being rendered delirious and near-hospitalised by a bout of pneumonia. My granny blames me going ‘galavanting to Dublin without an overcoat’. She thinks I don’t put enough clothes on, but then she is fairly old school - with a tendency for rather Dickensian viewpoints. She’s absolute gold dust though, with a fire in her eyes and a teflon sensibility that I hope to have some of when I’m 90…must be the Irish in her!

Alanna and I headed off for a weekend of shenanigans in stag party city. I have never seen anything like it - save for, perhaps New Orleans in the French Quarter. A city centre so rampantly amuck with binge drinking, quick fixing out of towners that the whole thing felt like being in a particularly booze-sodden theme park. Temple Bar sure was heaving with heavers but, once we’d managed to navigate our way around the piles of chunder that lay dumped in steaming mounds at every turn, we soon found our radars and headed North.

On the South side of Dublin the idea of hanging out on the other side of the river is unthinkable - a sense that the North side doesn’t tally with the city’s new and prosperous image. Well, that’s great, but there was a football match on - a really poignant one - and the only place we wanted to watch it was in a boozer close to Croke Park. We walked the entire length of Lower Dorset Street, entering every pub along the way, wanting to find the right one until, there it was, our oasis - The Auld Triangle.
For the next seven hours we were inducted into the ways of the stronghold group inside. Derek and Sean and Paddy and Aiden. Mickey, Alfie, Johnny and Paul. We emerged astonished, frankly, to be still sentient. My doctor tells me she thinks I had already caught my infection before I went to Ireland but, between me and you, I doubt if my jingle-jangle in the Auld Triangle was especially helpful…

And now here in London all is summery. The ice cream is back in action. The hot chocolate cravings have retreated and been replaced by a demand for iced mocha milkshakes, scoops of mint choc-chip (new flavour!) and almond, orange and brandy chilled chocolate torte. Come and get some if you’re around!