The Van of Death: a journey into the afterlife

With a side of ketchup.

Cambridge Nighlife Van of Death

Imagine a familiar scene.

It’s 3am and you’ve just staggered to the aptly-named Van of Life for revitalising carbs, which obviously don’t lead to obesity if you can’t remember eating them, right?

But this time you take a look around you.

But this time, your eyes stray from the glare of the Van of Life. From far afield, you see the dim lights of the dark secret kept from us for all this time. Mesmerised and spurred by a strange pioneering spirit within you, you continue your cheesy chip pilgrimage. Just. That. Bit. Further.

Yep, that’s right: there is another option.

The morbidly named Van of Death (or Uncle Frank’s to the poorly informed) stands tall in proud defiance to its famous competitor.

We went down to the infamous other van to find out a little bit more about this untapped resource and cornered the unsuspecting commander of the condiments.

The boring but necessary introductory questions were unfruitful. So if you are looking for a factual chronology of the history of a mobile food unit, you have come to wrong place. Sorry folks.

The Tab guesses it started at some point between the Big Bang and now

He didn’t seem to have a clue about who ‘Uncle Frank’ is, when the van originated, or any comments of its notorious nickname ‘Van of Death’, so we decided to ask something that would draw out a more talkative response:

“Do you guys have fun at work?”


On a different tact, we moved on to tiptoe around their sensitive, yet critically prevalent, inferiority complex.

“What’s it like competing with the Van of Life? Why are you better than them?”

“We have better hygiene. And are healthier. One time I tried using the same chips as the Van of Life and they were soggy. Our chips have crunch.”

“Soggy Chips” – clearly a reference to penis

Then we asked of the elephant in the room

The question on everyone’s mind

“Why don’t you do the classic (for any city suburbanite) chicken kebab?”

“We like to stick to the healthy options”

A curious interpretation of the word ‘healthy’. (But if cheesy chips can count as one of your five a day, we are not going to complain).

It’s healthy for the chickens

“Have you ever wanted to batter [pun intended] an annoying customer?”

“The customers can get very loud and angry. But usually once we feed them they calm down.” 


“Who are your best customers?”

“Definitely the locals. The students go to the other van: considering they have such big brains and intelligence they make stupid decisions – our food is better.”

“What’s been your funniest customer recently?”

“Many customers are funny. They get drunk; they sometimes give us a lot of extra money. We always give it back.”

So honest.

Our budding journalistic skills have served us well once again, as we forgot to ask the name of the man we interviewed – but we can conclusively tell you it is not Uncle Frank.

So why not hazard over for the healthier option on the market square next time the Van Of Life queue is hypothermia-inducingly long?

Maybe this will change your allegiances.