Sometimes we have to take a risk to achieve our deepest desires. And, as a child of nine in the long hot summer of 1974, my deepest desires lay close to home - in the freezer cabinet of The Shop.
I think everyone's scheme has a Shop, with a capital S. It was on the perimeter of my world. I might be allowed to run a message there, for mum's ciggies, dad's paper, an emergency item for the dinner. And if Mum was in a good mood, she might let me have a 5p mixture. Never more than 5p - a few Black Jacks and a jelly banana seemed to her all the indulgence a nine year old needed. Anyway, there weren't that many sweeties you could get for more than 5p, and they weren't for the likes of us.
Then, in the middle of that long, hot summer, the world's ice cream inventors came up with the prince of ice lollies. The last word in frozen pleasure. The Lollygobblechocbomb.
It was all I wanted. And it was 15p.
It seemed beyond my powers to ever sink my teeth into this icy delight. Mum would never treat me to anything edible that cost 15p, no more than she would buy me a silk dress for my Sindy doll or let me take the bus to Brownies. I could have saved up enough for three mixtures, but that would take weeks. Patience has never been one of my virtues.
My heart's desire seemed to lie forever beyond my grasp, until one day, on an errand to The Shop, salvation arrived in the form of Gran.
"Hello, pet! Would you like a sweetie? Or an ice lolly?"
At this time, Gran was a stylish lady with a good job, a lively social life - and no idea at all of the evils of 15p ice lollies. I often met her in The Shop, and she would usually offer to buy me a treat. She was easy to wheedle goodies out of, but I was always under strict instructions from mum not to be greedy. Always be grateful, say please and thank you, ask for a penny caramel or a drumstick lolly. If I ever find out you took advantage of your Gran...
But it really was the hottest day of my life. The tarmac was melting, I was melting, I was nine, and I needed...
It was so easy. A smile, a please and thank you, and it would be mine...
Unwrapped, its icy magnificence was overwhelming. A glistening crown of chocolate encrusted with sugar strands like tiny jewels crunched to reveal succulent strawberry and creamy vanilla ice cream. Beneath this seductive exterior lay a secret heart of solid chocolate. lt was all had wanted, more than I had expected. I was in nine-year-old heaven.
Two bites in, however, I was brought back to earth. How was I going to get away with this one?
I was already expected home, but I couldn't arrive home with the dripping chocolate evidence of Gran's gullibility, and my greed. The Shop lay just along the street from our house, a Kwenchy Kup or jelly banana away. I could already see Mum peering through the blinds to see where her pint of milk had got to. I walked as slowly as I could manage, gobbling greedily. Vanilla ice cream, sugar strands, the secret heart of solid chocolate, all were a sickly mess as they went down in huge gulps, but still I wasn't fast enough.
The glee and greed of that summer day melted away in the gutter outside of my house.