My Week: Sam Booth, ice-cream vendor

Author: Interview by Gillian Orr

I go out in the van for a few hours but it rains so unreasonably hard that I
give up and go home. You just have to cut your losses when it’s like that.
It’s been tough this summer. Business has been badly affected by the dismal
weather.

Tuesday

I take the day off today because it is my son’s eighth birthday and we all go
to Thorpe Park to celebrate. I own four ice-cream vans so I send out a
driver in one of the vans as I can’t be there. There are a few scary-looking
clouds around but it’s beautiful weather all day. I still can’t help
thinking that I should be at work. It’s frustrating. I have to try not to
think about it. We’re shattered on our return so we all fall into bed.

Wednesday

I send one driver out but he takes about only half the money I would hope to
get. I go down to my yard and work on a new van that I’m building up. I
bought this new van last Christmas and I’ve been converting it ever since. I
had wanted it ready for what was supposed to be a really hot summer, but as
the weather’s been so poor it’s still sitting in the shed.

Thursday

I’m out in the van today and the weather is quite nice. Sales are all right
but we’re still affected by the recession too. I have a route I usually take
so it’s nice to catch up with the regulars I have built up over the past six
years. I’ve seen lots of the kids on the estates be born and grow up, and I
now see them standing in their doorways with their mum, and I’m serving the
kids the ice cream now. I’ve seen youngsters grow up and get married. I even
served ice cream at the wedding of one of the couples.

Friday

I go to the yard to interview a potential new driver. I go through drivers
like other people go through tissues. People use it as a stop-gap so some
people want a week’s work, a month or so on. I would like to be out selling
ice cream but I’ve lots of other stuff I need to do before the weekend ?
going to the bank and things ? so I get all that done. I’ve got weddings,
music festivals and a dog show all coming up this week, as well as the usual
rounds. I began business this year in February and it was glorious, right
the way through till about a month ago. And now it’s a wash-out. It’s hit
takings at least 50 per cent. I started this job in 2003 when I bought a
van. That was a glorious year, then the past six years have been terrible. I
really thought that I was going to make a few quid this summer. I’ve still
got hope, though, that the weather will pick up. That’s the ice-cream man’s
philosophy.

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