New Statesman screening at BFI Southbank

A few tickets still available for No Man's Land and panel discussion.

A reminder of the New Statesman film screening and panel discussion at the BFI Southbank in London tomorrow (13 February).

Danis Tanovic's 2001 film No Man's Land will be shown in NFT2 at 12.45pm. A panel discussion on the way the media handle conflict, chaired by the New Statesman's culture editor, Jonathan Derbyshire, will follow at 2.30pm.

Panellists:

James Gow is professor of international peace and security at King's College London, and director of the International Peace and Security Programme. Between 1994 and 1998, he served as an expert adviser and expert witness for the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where he was involved in establishing subject-matter jurisdiction. He was also the first witness to give evidence in the Trial Chamber and the first person ever to give evidence at an international criminal tribunal. Professor Gow has subsequently continued to work with the tribunal. His most recent book is War, Image, Legitimacy: Viewing Contemporary Conflict (with Milena Michalski).

Dr Gregory Kent has written about the break-up of Yugoslavia both as a journalist and as an academic. He is the author of Framing War and Genocide: British Policy and Media Reaction to the War in Bosnia. As director of graduate studies in human rights and international relations at Roehampton University, London, his broad research interests include historical and political issues in war and genocide, and the problems of political communication in such contexts.

James Rodgers is Europe regional editor at the BBC World Service. He spent ten years as a foreign correspondent, during which time he reported from Chechnya, Gaza -- where he was the only international correspondent permanently based in the territory -- and Iraq, where he was one of the first journalists to get to Saddam Hussein's bunker following the Iraqi dictator's capture in 2003. He is currently writing a book on conflict reporting.

To receive a complimentary ticket, email events@newstatesman.co.uk

Photo: Hunter Skipworth / Moment
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Cones and cocaine: the ice cream van's links with organised crime

A cold war is brewing to the tinkling of "Greensleeves".

Anyone who has spent a summer in this country will be familiar with the Pavlovian thrill the first tinny notes of “Greensleeves” stir within the stolid British breast.

The arrival of the ice cream van – usually at least two decades older than any other vehicle on the road, often painted with crude approximations of long-forgotten cartoon characters and always, without fail, exhorting fellow motorists to “Mind that child!” – still feels like a simple pleasure of the most innocent kind.

The mobile ice cream trade, though, has historical links with organised crime.

Not only have the best routes been the subject of many, often violent turf wars, but more than once lollies have served as cover for goods of a more illicit nature, most notoriously during the Glasgow “Ice Cream Wars” of the early 1980s, in which vans were used as a front for fencing stolen goods and dealing drugs, culminating in an arson attack that left six people dead.

Although the task force set up to tackle the problem was jokingly nicknamed the “Serious Chimes Squad” by the press, the reality was somewhat less amusing. According to Thomas “T C” Campbell, who served almost 20 years for the 1984 murders before having his conviction overturned in 2004, “A lot of my friends were killed . . . I’ve been caught with axes, I’ve been caught with swords, open razors, every conceivable weapon . . . meat cleavers . . . and it was all for nothing, no gain, nothing to it, just absolute madness.”

Tales of vans being robbed at gunpoint and smashed up with rocks abounded in the local media of the time and continue to pop up – a search for “ice cream van” on Google News throws up the story of a Limerick man convicted last month of supplying “wholesale quantities” of cocaine along with ice cream. There are also reports of the Mob shifting more than 40,000 oxycodone pills through a Lickety Split ice cream van on Staten Island between 2009 and 2010.

Even for those pushing nothing more sinister than a Strawberry Split, the ice cream business isn’t always light-hearted. BBC Radio 4 devoted an entire programme last year to the battle for supremacy between a local man who had been selling ice creams in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea since 1969 and an immigrant couple – variously described in the tabloids as Polish and Iraqi but who turned out to be Greek – who outbid him when the council put the contract out to tender. The word “outsiders” cropped up more than once.

This being Britain, the hostilities in Northumberland centred around some rather passive-aggressive parking – unlike in Salem, Oregon, where the rivalry from 2009 between an established local business and a new arrival from Mexico ended in a highish-speed chase (for an ice cream van) and a showdown in a car park next to a children’s playground. (“There’s no room for hate in ice cream,” one of the protagonists claimed after the event.) A Hollywood production company has since picked up the rights to the story – which, aptly, will be co-produced by the man behind American Sniper.

Thanks to competition from supermarkets (which effortlessly undercut Mister Softee and friends), stricter emission laws in big cities that have hit the UK’s ageing fleet particularly hard, and tighter regulations aimed at combating childhood obesity, the trade isn’t what it used to be. With margins under pressure and a customer base in decline, could this summer mark the start of a new cold war?

Felicity Cloake is the New Statesman’s food columnist. Her latest book is The A-Z of Eating: a Flavour Map for Adventurous Cooks.

This article first appeared in the 22 June 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The zombie PM

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