When I first started as a milkman my dad was my trainer. To say he was a character is an understatement. I had been brought up in Deptford, South East London and when I was eleven the old bill had decided to do him for receiving. He did three months porridge in Brixton which he actually seemed to enjoy. Now to many children at that age having a father in prison would have been a subject of derision at school. Not in my case, I suddenly became one of the lads as this was considered part of the norm. He was a brilliant milkman and taught me all the wrinkles involved with this job. You could see that the housewives loved his warmth and sense of humour and I was very flattered when many would say how much like him I was. He showed me that by talking to your customers and explaining what special promotions and what the milkman could win by selling extra goods worked a lot better than any special sales patter. I would get comments like ”We are getting fed up with rice puddings and all milk coffees, have you won anything on that milk promotion yet”
In all I managed to win a shirt for every day of the week on a bread promotion, a weekend in Rome for milk promotion, some clothing from Burtons and a lot of little cash bonuses for many other smaller promotions. “Watch out watch out a Humphrey is about” and “are you getting enough?” (Milk) where a couple of the promotion campaigns I remember. You had to be very careful who you said “Are you getting enough” to but dad seemed to get away with saying to them all.
While training me my dad would get up to a few tricks and his favourite one was with a deaf and rather cantankerous women who sometimes used to collect her milk from her gate. She could lip read so dad used to turn his back to me and make some of the rudest comments imaginable. Once I had been trained and got to know this woman she informed me that she was to have an operation on one ear and hoped to be able to hear again. She had the operation and it worked. Several months later my dad had to come out with me and check on my progress and make sure I knew the job. On that day this women came to her gate and dad tried his old trick, back turned and used some the worst language imaginable. “Pardon milkman, what did you just say” spoken in a very surprised posh accent still rings in my ears