Saturday, 28 May 2011

Milkman at Christmas Time

Christmas time always seemed special when I was a milkman. Without a doubt it was a very tiring and difficult time. Extra cream, milk, bread, and even hampers were sold and delivered and the milk floats used to be stacked high with all the extra goods. Of course you would see all the Christmas festivities in each and every house and if I had accepted all the alcoholic drinks I was offered I would never have got the milk float back to the dairy. There have been cases of milkmen being done for driving their milk floats over the limit at Christmas. Many of my old girl customers had discovered that I liked ginger wine and I had come close to being pissed in charge of a milk float.. Because the milkman is in constant contact with his customer will always get good Christmas tips. Some of the miserable old milkman that I knew would suddenly cheer up at Christmas and try to be their customer’s best friend. Most times this did not work as I would often hear them complaining about the lack of good tips after the Christmas period.
Dot my second wife would often help me on my rounds and Christmas was no exception. I remember taking her with me very early (3am) on the day before Christmas. On one of the first calls she came back with a 50 pence piece that had been left as a tip, a lot of money in those days, she thought this was fantastic. I said that come the end of the day (about 7 pm) she would be so tired and weighed down my money that she would lose all interest in the tips. She did until the day after when she could counted it all.

When I first started I would even work very early on Christmas day. I would double up as much as possible on milk deliveries the day before but it would still leave some customers who wanted a daily delivery of milk. This was part of Christmas, my brothers, relations and even friends would help me so that I could get home in time for a Christmas breakfast. This had always been part of life at Christmas and even as a boy I had gone out Christmas morning to help my father. In a strange sort of way it made Christmas because it was a time the family truly got together and on that day delivering milk was fun.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

I could have been a TV star

I used to go about my daily work and I was always very happy. Back at the dairy we used to have an area manager and his secretary visit occasionally and I never took much notice of them. One day after I had finished my round the secretary approached me and asked if I would be interested in an audition for a TV advert promoting job vacancies as Unigate milkmen. She thought I was the most photogenic milkman in the dairy and that it would be a good idea to have a go. Maybe she fancied me, I never really found out. A few weeks later I went up to Paddington for the audition, met a load more milkman from all over the South East and spoke to a panel of TV advert makers. I though it went quite well, The Irish in me has never stopped me from talking and some say that I kissed the Blarney stone and I returned back to Dairy knowing I had done my best. A few weeks later I was notified that I was not suitable for the Adverts because I was too pretty to be a milkman. I could have accepted anything for failing an audition but being told that I was too *ucking pretty was big insult. Can you imagine the names I was called by the other milkmen when they found out? My masculinity was in doubt but I had three children to prove that I was not some of the names they called me.

It was all in good humour and I could always hold my own ground. These days you are not allowed to take the Mick out of your fellow workers and all sorts of harassment charges can be made if you do. Times are a changing and it is not for the best

Monday, 9 May 2011

Back at the Dairy

You have the milkmen who deliver the milk but you also have all the backstage stuff that goes on in the dairy itself.

Because I took promotion and became a supervisor (it entitled me to wear a blue coat with light blue collar and sleeve ends instead of red) I would often spend a day working in the dairy. During the day you would have the milk deliveries, thousands of pints of milk which would slide down a watered ramp in stacks, eight crates high. The person at the bottom would have a long metal hook that he would plonk onto the crates and swing them around into the fridge. This was a skill indeed as each stack of crates would slide into perfect place in the fridge. Of course I had to have a go and from a slow beginning started to get the hang of it. I gave up when I got overconfident and swung the crates just a little too hard and the whole stack fell over. Broken milk bottles everywhere again.

We had a small shop where the milkman would order and get things like bread, cream, yoghurts, cakes, eggs and many other things. At the back of the building you had the bays for the milk floats where they had to be plugged in to be charged overnight, you were in big trouble the next day if you forgot to do that.

We also had an engineering department where the floats were serviced and repaired. They had a big lorry available to rescue any floats that broke down, most times they would tow a float in but one day as I was chugging up the final hill back to the dairy doing all of 4 miles an hour this lorry crept up behind me, dropped down a gear and with a loud roar of the engine shunted me up the hill at a good thirty miles an hour. I though Old Nic himself had got me as I had been dreaming and not looking in my rear view mirror.