With the constant news coverage of “our lads” fighting for our freedom over in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s hard to get war off the brain. But war hasn’t always been about mentally torturing shepherds, blowing up mountain goats with bazookas, Prince Harry running around shouting racist expletives while he has a tea towel wrapped around his head, Ross Kemp, and calling people “matey”.
There is a vast array of amazing wars that have taken place between societies throughout history. Here are my top three, in no particular order.
Glasgow Ice Cream Wars
Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy of any UK city, and is it any wonder when even their ice cream van drivers are known for shooting at and killing each other?
In the 1980s in the East End of Glasgow, rival ice cream van operators fought a bitter war over the most lucrative territories and used extreme violence to protect their spot. Some ice cream sellers went as far as sprinkling rival vans with hundreds-and-thousands and sticking dozens of Flakes up the exhaust. OK, that’s not true, no one did anything as amazing as that, but some vendors routinely fired bullets through the windscreens of vans imposing on their turf.
Can you imagine how brilliant a drive by shooting in an ice cream van would be, by the way? Picture one of these fat red-faced Scottish blokes pulling up alongside another van with the windows down and the children’s nursery rhymes blaring and spraying it with bullets before speeding off at 12 miles an hour while being chased by a morbidly obese kid desperate to buy his gran a Twister.
The reason these guys were so keen to guard their particular areas was because the ice cream van owners were using this legitimate-looking business to peddle drugs and stolen goods. The violence culminated in April 1984 when six members of the family of an ice cream van driver were burnt alive in an arson attack on their family home.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front vs. the Philippine Army
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front are a very serious group of Muslim separatist rebels fighting a very serious war in Southern Philippines. Their aim is to establish an Islamic state for their ethnic group and they will do whatever it takes to get what they want. In 1981, the group broke away from the Moro National Liberation Front and since then they’ve been doing stuff like executing wounded enemy soldiers that they capture, issuing jihads and blowing up airports. Oh, and they’ve got links to Al-Qaeda (who hasn’t these days?). It is, indeed, all very serious stuff.
But then you realise that the acronym for Moro Islamic Liberation Front is MILF and suddenly, no matter how hard you try to ignore the fact, the whole thing doesn’t seem so serious anymore. If you go to the group’s Wikipedia page you’ll find lines such as: “MILF operatives attacked government troops in Maguindanao”, and if you Google them you’ll find news stories on the BBC site with headlines like: “The Philippines’ MILF rebels”. These guys are doggedly fighting a brutal religious war in a third world country and all I can picture when anyone talks about them is Nigella Lawson rubbing cake mix all over her tits while writhing naked on a marble kitchen work surface.
When I think of Lapland I picture Santa filling sacks with presents, Mrs Claus knitting in her rocking chair in front of an open fire, Rudolph and his mates munching on carrots outside. This is pretty much what happens there – my mum told me all about it when I was younger. But things could have been very different today if Hitler had got his way.
Did you know that between September 1944 and April 1945, the Nazis fought the Finnish army in Lapland and could well have taken over the area? During this period, most of the civilian population had to be evacuated (except Santa, obviously – he had to stay behind with his little helpers to get all the pressies ready for Christmas) as the Nazis travelled the land torching whole towns. Luckily the Finns won, but just think what it would be like if the Nazis took over Lapland.
Disabled people probably wouldn’t get anything from Santa; if they did it would be something cruel like rollerskates for people who are confined to a wheelchair. Jews would probably get an orange laced with Anthrax down their chimney. And anyone who wasn’t white would probably wake up on Christmas morning to find a lump of reindeer shit in the shape of a swastika sat steaming under their beautifully decorated tree. In short, Christmas wouldn’t be very good.
A version of this article appeared in Fun Magazine.