Although I was born in South East London my maternal family were East Enders who had moved across the river to what were then greener fields. So it will be no great surprise that my first memories of trips to the seaside were back through the Blackwall Tunnel to Southend-on-Sea or more correctly on-Thames.
Now apart from walking the prom, the train down the pier and adventures in Peter Pans playground eating also played a major role on those outings. We ate fish and chips a plenty, cockles but I did manage to escape jellied eels. My favourite eating house was Ye Old Sausage Shop – sadly with us no more.
One of the revered names in Southend catering was and still is Tomassi’s - a catering concern established by Italians who in the first instance sold wonderful ice cream creations. Today Tomassi’s still sell ice cream but have a large restaurant in Southend High Street just yards from the seafront. Despite my frequent childhood trips to Southend and my parents having moved there in 1966 I have never eaten in Tomassis – till now.
On a recent Saturday evening I made my first visit to what was a very busy restaurant. They were more than happy to squeeze one more in and I thoroughly enjoyed my skate and chips. On the back page of the ice cream menu is a Tomassi’s advertisement from the 1955 Southend Carnival programme. Many of these ice cream delights are still available today – but of course the prices certainly aren’t the same.
One of the items listed but that isn’t available is Ron’s Revenge. It was priced at two shillings and Tomassis admit they have no idea what it was.
My first thought was Ron was some East End wide boy along the lines of Ronnie Kray. Obviously not because below was the give away line – “You’ll like if Eth”.
I am old enough to remember Ron and Eth, two of the key characters in The Glums which ran as part of the legendary radio show Take It From Here. The programme was on the BBC from1948 to 1960 and The Glums soon became a regular feature in the series.
Mr Glum, played by Jimmy Edwards, was father to dim Ron (Dick Bentley) who in turn was courting a plain lass – Eth (June Whitefield) - who wanted to better herself but Ron represented her only hope of finding a husband - and he never did get around to marrying her. The brilliant scripts were written by Denis Norden and Frank Muir.
What I don’t know is what happened in the summer of 1955 to inspire an ice cream extravaganza called Ron’s Revenge – and why it generated the slogan “You’ll like it Eth”. However I have no doubt that there is somebody older and wiser than myself reading this who knows the answer – and hopefully will pass it on.