Saturday, 26 February 2011

Women in the milkman's life

To stop any confusion I should point out that I had two different wives while I was a milkman and a very loving little sister who looked after me between marriages. When I first started as a milkman I was married to a girl named Rosalind but everyone called her Sophie because of her likeness to Sophie Loren. The marriage lasted a few years and then we divorced.

It was at this stage that Dot my second wife came into my life. She was the opposite of Sophie, a very good manager where money was concerned and a born organiser. She had lost her mother when she was only twelve and had taken on the role of looking after her father and brothers at that early age. She had become a fantastic cook by the time I met her and she even helped to pay some of my outstanding bills at that time. From day one I have had that infinite trust in her as she did with me. I cannot lie to her because she can read my face like a book. Many people said our marriage would not last because we were opposites but we have been together for thirty five eventful years and have a son and daughter. My daughter has given me a very artistic grand daughter who will hopefully take over Sevenoaks Art one day.

Now my little sister is another story all together :0)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Wash your hands

Dot has engrained it into my memory that I should wash my hands after having a pee but that was rarely possible when a milkman.
I always had an ample supply of drinks from my customers and would also drink a pint of gold top daily but that meant you needed a few pit stops on your dash around the houses. I did have the use of a couple of outside loos, there were a few about in those days but out in the country and up and down quite tracks meant you could stop the float and have a pee into the bushes. Twice I got caught with my little acorn out. One delivery was up a track where I used to drop of a couple of pints into a crate at the end of a long drive. No house about, just nice Kent countryside so the ideal opportunity to have a pee. One day I did and was startled by someone whistling and then calling out “morning milky”. It was embarrassing but she did not seem to mind as she had a big smile on her face and had come up to collect her milk and pay the bill. Another good stopping point was in a quite lay by; I would take a little walk behind the bushes and have a pee in the field. As I stood there with the little acorn doing his business I was suddenly aware of eyes on me. I looked up and to my horror a double decker bus had stopped in the road alongside me and a load of schoolgirls were peering down and giggling at me from the top deck. One thing for sure , you see life and I remember one customer letting me use her loo when I called back for some money, I have never in all my life seen such a dirty toilet but from outside the house you would never have had that impression.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Early days as a Milkman

What an eye opener it was. You are up very early in the morning and on your deliveries up and down peoples garden paths you would see some strange and some wonderful sights. It was nice if you saw some nubile young woman with just a see through short nighty on but a fifty year old was not quite so good ( I would not object these days), many seemed intent on embarrassing their young milkman. I once saw a naked old man collecting newspapers from his porch, it was enough to give me nightmares for a couple of months and the Unigate psychiatrist refused to give me counseling
Sunday mornings would bring some ecstatic noises from the bedrooms and I remember well hearing one of my favourite customers yelling in her bedroom at her husband to get his hands off her t*ts, of course I had great delight in informing her about this the next time I saw her. As I said before I had a good trainer in my old dad and it did not take long to build up a repertoire with my customers. I had some well to do customers and a lot of working class people who lived in terraced house, no walking up and down long garden paths for them, once you remembered what your customers had delivered it was just a matter of walking along with a crateful of milk and plonking the milk bottles on each doorstep as you passed by.
Mental mathematics improved greatly and in time the bookkeeping became easy. These days you see milkman with baby computers for book keeping but in my days you had a book with a page for each customer and you had write out a new one every couple of months. At the end of the week you would spend one evening at home adding up what each customer had had for that particular week and many had extras like butter, milk, cream or even potatoes, calculators were not readily available then.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Milkmans Basic Training and Qualifications

As I said in the previous post an honest milkman would never keep his books straight so I needed to make a little to remedy the situation. Some milkman would try over charging the customer but that would be a road to disaster because the customer would soon find out and then you have the embarrassing situation trying to explain why. One way to make a little money would be to under order on some of the goods and then buy elsewhere at a cheaper price and then resell them. Eggs where a classic example, I could get some very good free range eggs quite cheaply and would resell them at the dairies price. Of course you had to watch just how you booked them as the bookkeeper at the dairy had years of experience and had an eagle eye for any fiddles. I can remember on one round that a milkman used to get paraffin for some of his older customers, just what you want with your milk???
You had to know your milk. In those days it used to be pasteurised, Channel Island (Gold top) and sterilised. Skimmed and semi skinned milk had just been introduced and the few people that used it were considered health freaks. How things change, we use nothing else now. A simple maths test had to be passed and then strangely enough even although I had a driving licence I had to pass a driving test in an electric milk float identical to the one doing the rounds in the animation above. A man from the Ministry of Transport would come down and give the test. Then of course you had to be able to carry three full bottles or five empty bottle in each hand as it was considered impractical (poofy was the term used then but it is now probably considered polically incorrect) to use a hand crate as it took so long to load it up. Occasionally you would get a day off and the supervisor doing your round would need to know who the awkward, and “over friendly” customers were. There was a special code for customer “type” that would be written at the top of the page. Most milkmen I knew would walk at a very fast pace or even run like I used to first thing in the morning, it meant you would get home earlier and would also keep you extremely fit.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Innocent young milkman

At the age of twenty four I was married to my first wife and had a couple of kids. I worked as an artist for a wrought iron company and really enjoyed my work although the pay was not good.
My wife at that time was most unhappy that I could not keep her in the luxury that she was used to and constantly nagged me to find a better paying job. The problem was that a flat went with the job and if I left I would be evicted. I eventually plucked up the courage to get a better paying job as a welder (Something I had learned at the wrought iron company) and hoped that the council would re-house me if I got evicted. The welding job was awful, I suffered from Arc Eye and absolute boredom and as my dad was still a milkman he suggested that I should give it a go. I did not have a car and lived out in the country so my wonderful old man used to pick me up very early in the morning to take me to work. He was a supervisor and fiddled it so he could train me. In those days you were accompanied for about a month until you got to know your round and those early days were some of the best days of my life. It was spring time, the people on the round were brilliant and I had one of the best instructors possible to become a milkman. Even although I say this myself it takes a very special person to do this job. You have be able to get up very early in the morning, be prepared to work a seven day week, get used to being soaked through, it is no fun trying to walk up and down garden paths with wellington boots and heavy waterproof clothing on, have the ability to talk to and sell your produce and to be able to balance your books at the end of the week. If you came short you were expected to make it up. It is simple fact of a milkman’s life; you have to fiddle a little to make your books come straight at the end of the week. It is easy to forget to book half a pound of butter or have something nicked from your float and it has to be made up somehow. How is just another story?

Milk delivery by horse and cart

I never wanted to be a milkman in the first place. My father was a milkman and I remember getting up early when I was about nine years old and going out into the freezing cold to earn some pocket money. In those days the milk was delivered by horse and cart and it was fun climbing up onto what seemed a seat on top of the world. The horse knew the round and would follow my dad as he delivered, so there was no necessity to actually jump up and drive the cart. We would deliver to a farm (obviously not a dairy farm) and the horse would have his food and a rest while we had a cup of tea. At that age a milk boy’s life was not for me and I soon found alternative ways of earning some pocket money. This was in the fifties and I can remember the sadness as the horses were retired and electric milk floats were introduced. The milkman had to take a driving test in one of these if they did not have a licence and they all seemed to pass. This enabled them to drive a lorry if they wanted to and I can remember my dad’s first car and how badly he drove it and how frightened my sister were to become passengers. That was my first experience of milk delivery and many years passed before I returned to it. The story will continue.