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the demise of ice-cream vans

As the period formerly known as summer draws to a close it is likely to mark the end of the line for many ice-cream vendors as they pack up their wares and retire their crackling loudspeakers for good.

For Britain's fleet of ice-cream vans, which peaked at 25,000 in the 1970s, has now dwindled to a measly 500. Following this year's washout summer it is a number likely to tumble further.

For most of us, a tinny version of Greensleeves was the soundtrack to a perfect summer's night back in the days when, as kids, we were allowed, nay encouraged, to play outside.

Several factors have caused the demise. In some areas council jobsworths have banned the vans from housing estates in an attempt to scapegoat the lowly vendors for the weight-related issues of a generation.

In addition, EU rulings on emissions have rendered many of the older vans illegal. Saddest of all; fewer children play outdoors.

When we were growing up, the ice-cream van would always stop right outside our home. A canny move by Mr Whippy who had obviously deduced from the abandoned bicycles and other discarded toys that children lurked here.

Once, we were seated at dinner when we heard the familiar tune cranking up but were forbidden to leave the table. The family dog, however, always one with a fly eye for an opportunity, silently slunk off before reappearing five minutes later brandishing a loaded cone between her teeth and an air of smug satisfaction.

Sadly, the ice-cream van is going the way of all other door-to-door vendors.

Gone are those trucks peddling soft drinks that would give you 20p back for an empty bottle. Clearly an eco-friendly venture ahead of its time, it is now, along with milk floats, reduced to urban myth status.

However, one delivery service has announced that it's enjoying a boom time.

In the three-month period which encompassed "Britain's Summer of Sport", sales of Domino's pizza rose by 8%.

Sports fans taking up residence on the couch for weeks on end and ordering in fast food is being directly cited as the reason for the sales peak.

Could this be this the first tangible evidence of an Olympic legacy?

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