“In order to know virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with vice.” The Marquis de Sade
Somebody once said that when they read about evils of drinking, they gave up reading. In the case of Vincent Van Gogh, it was more akin to the spoonerism ‘Is it a bottle in front of me or a frontal lobotomy?’ Van Gogh spent much of his life in the bewitching French city of Arles, home to one of the greatest hotels in the world, The Grand Hotel Nord Pinus, where Picasso, Hemingway and Cocteau were regulars alongside legendary Arlesian Bullfighters.
Many starry nights ago, I spent an intoxicating summer there, following Van Gogh’s footsteps under a burning green Absinthe haze. Under the influence of love, ethanol and other drugs, I sat in the Place Du Forum with my then girlfriend and floated the idea of turning my fascination with Absinthe into an ice lolly. Ten years later, I had created a popsicle with enough anesthetic to knock out a baby elephant. I am certain Vincent would have undoubtedly been partial to this delightful and refreshing alternative for the formaldehyde drinking romantics that flock to this city and who on occasion, have succumbed to deaths icy embrace.
The story begins at the bar of the Grand Hotel Nord Pinus where I had imbibed several Green Fairies before a miraculous apparition appeared to me in the shape of an Absinthe laced ice lolly. After a short pilgrimage to the Catholic Church 200 yards from the hotel, the reincarnation was complete and the ‘Vice Lolly’ was born – an unholy cocktail of hallucinogenic Absinthe loaded with miraculous Holy Water (not bullets) and frozen into the shape of a firearm.
If an ice lolly is a symbol of innocence, then the Vice Lolly is its perverted cousin, one whose DNA can be traced back to the Marquis de Sade.
Over the last 10 years I have had several tangles with the Catholic Church where I have sought their assistance on various social campaigns I am involved in. Rather than offering help, they religiously put PR and profit over principle and a little book called the bible. This demonstrated to me that whilst religion has continued to take the piss out of me for the last decade, perhaps I could return them the favour with a Life of Brian style homage.
We all know that since time began, people have died fighting wars in the name of religion and I wanted to distill the uncomfortable relationship between violence and religion into a satirical ice lolly which juxtaposed the innocence of an ice lolly with the shape of a firearm. We imported a large quantity of Holy Water, 576 miles from the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes at a cost of 100 Euros per litre. Lourdes water flows from the rock Massabielle and can be seen through a illuminated glass plate. The spring was discovered by Bernadette Soubirous during one of the apparition on the 25 February 1858. Bernadette was told to by Our Lady “go drink the water at the spring and wash your self in the water”. Thousands of pilgrims now travel to the spot each year in the hope their ailments will be miraculously cured.
My supplier tells me that Holy Water is the source of ‘thousands of unexplained healings and miracles since the first healing of Catherine Latapie on March 1st 1858’ in the same way that Del Boy said Peckham Spring was a bona fide spring water which just happened to glow in the dark. Holy Water is (in my view) cynically used by the church to persuade people of the redemptive and healing powers of religion and at that price, you would hope it works, however several bottles arrived without the lids being properly fitted and had spilt everywhere. At these sorts of prices, you don’t expect the packaging to be leakier than the claims made about the water.
To make the Vice Lolly we blended it with 80% La Fee Absinthe which signifies the alcohol used to numb soldiers in the battlefield when fighting ‘holy wars’. Each reincarnation of cool is 300ml in size and costs us about £30 each in materials (excluding moulds,) but we are selling a limited quantity at a charitable £18.58 to mark the year of the apparition.
Now, as any one who knows me will tell you, I’ve got religion about ice cream and that I am an ice cream evangelist, so when it came to creating the ultimate spiritual refreshment I am pleased to report the Vice Lolly really delivers maximum spiritual refreshment. The Absinthe is softly flavoured but still delivers an anesthetic kick to your jaw line and is balanced out with a little sugar and another magic ingredient for flavour. For protection, the Vice Lolly is served with a latex glove and unlike the Met Police, it shoots to chill, not to kill.
For safety, all our Vice Lollies are stored in our specially designed Gun Cabinet in line with regulations.
Depending on your perspective we are either scraping the bottom of the barrel (where we do most of our business) or are just out to create choc and awe. For me though, like breast milk ice cream, its about making a political statement. The Vice Lolly is about the immorality of war, government and religious deception and the corruption of society. When exposing grand facades there is no more powerful weapon than satire. I may come from the Father Ted school of marketing and the Vice Lolly may land us in hot water, but at least I will know that’s no apparition.
The Vice Lolly is a Holy Water Pistol with a licence to chill.
Founder of The Icecreamists
NB: See page 152 of our new book for the full recipe.
The Icecreamists present the Vice Lolly
The Making of the Vice Lolly