|Stop me and ingest one.|
Ahh, I can smell it now, evocative and strangely religious. Now I don't know if many people know this (I certainly didn't until recently) but whipped cream chargers need nitrous oxide or N2O, to operate. So here's the thing: penniless or not, that van was a bong-on-wheels for my curious lungs and, like a needy little whippet, there I'd be, sucking in that heady whiff of ozone and crushed almonds. The machine itself, with whirring guts and perpendicular knob from whence the treat would flow, all cream n' chrome Bakelite, nudged by an expert fist, into swirls of ice-cold nourishing animal fat and whey product, if that's what took your fancy.
But beggars like me couldn't be choosers. So although that machine - belonging in the kitchen of a 1950s American housewife with sturdy grip and cherry-pie smile - could pull out endless extrusions of the curly stuff, it would be forever lost to my impoverished tongue. Instead, I'd breathe in, deep and long, letting the cloudy thrum of diesel fumes from the engine add a bit of a kick to the mix. And it smelled good, like a nasty, naughty, pheromonal heaven of chemical propellant. I'd stand there for as long as I could get away with, and there might, during the course of this infusion, come some gentle mewing, such as that of a cheetah cub at its mother's pap, or a blues player solemnly freebasing in a hovel.
Because they were mostly pederasts, these cone-jockeys, and probably whacked up the N20 deliberately, hoping to get us high and capitalise on our innocence. So you had to know when to let it go. Don't get me wrong, given the choice, I'd much rather have been sucking a creamy payload, (in the non-kiddy-fiddling sense) through the bottom of a snagged-off cone. But, as far as consolation prizes go, this one wasn't bad.
Today they call it 'nang' and carry it around in bulbs or 'nang-crackers' that empty into balloons for recreation. I'm certain that one whiff of the stuff would take me straight back to the days of that old jalopy, the 'Happy Van', jangling out its screechy version of 'Blaydon Races' or 'Greensleeves' and a forty-year-old porn tash called 'uncle Robbo' dispensing the nang hits (well, at least the first ones) for free.
And I doubt that many of the nanged-up fourteen year olds plastered over Youtube could say that.