Saturday, 8 August 2009

Milk Bottles


There was once a time on a Saturday evening when Radio 2 would play half decent music, in fact I think that the station has gone down the pan altogether compared to a few years a go; well I suppose I mean about twenty years ago!

I love music I really do, it could be me or maybe this very unpleasant humid, sticky evening here in Canning Town that’s making me feel like hurling the bloody thing; the radio out the frigging window, and the DJ is playing a track called ‘Jump’, I kid you not. It’s a good job that the estate kids who have started to use the bin shed as a meeting place are not there tonight.

Well that’s off my chest, my whinge committed to my blog. Oh and guess what there’re playing Frank Sinatra singing ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ how appropriate.

Well today I’ve been thinking about Milk Bottles: Yes, Milk Bottles that’s what’s been floating around in my head. It started when I realised that my milk had gone off, and it was in the fridge but that aside. I was thinking about when milk was delivered to every home by the friendly milkman or woman and not that long ago, most of us will still have memories’ of the milk float rattling along the road early every morning delivering the daily pint. What I loved about our milk then was the glass bottles, how wonderful were they, and practical, totally recyclable they didn’t end-up always in the land fill. There seemed to be so many different types of milk that people used as represented by red, blue, green and I even recall yellow foil tops that every winter with a pile of snow on top the birds would peck through lightly with that picking motion to get at the cream. Of course, I’m assuming it was done by a bird and that the milkman didn’t put his thumb through the top by accident — but if you looked closely, it did look like there was a small hole that had been pecked
My friends’ mother and grandmother collected milk bottle tops for many years for a charity called The Blind Babies of Bethlehem (or something like that). In those days, milk bottle tops were made of aluminium because it was cheaper to recycle aluminium then than it was to dig fresh ore.

The milk float mostly ran off on electricity was a very familiar sight on our streets a part of the community even the many jokes about the milkman and the wife.

Better not forget Benny Hill and his 1970s number one hit ‘Ernie’ and the rattling of ghostly milk tops.

When I was at school we use to be given free milk in the morning. I never did make it as a milk monitor; can’t even put that on my CV shame. But not as shameful as the milk snatcher who shall remain nameless on this post, but we know who she is!

We had two milk delivery companies Daisy Farm Dairies and Co-op Milk who both had their own bottling plants in our town; they even bottled orange juice into glass. Then someone hit on the brainwave of lying off the milkman and franchising-out the milk round. Some of my friends took their redundancy money in the 1980s from the steelworks and shank it into the milk round thinking that this was a safe bet, but less than twenty years on the milk float has almost disappeared from our streets unless you live somewhere like Tunbridge Wells you’ll not see a milk float for love or money.

By: Ernie Driver of the fastest Milk Float in the West.

1 comment:

Chris H said...

Memories Jim! I used to help out on a milk round when I was at school, loved it. Recyclable glass bottles and an electric vehicle, the thought could make a grown environmentalist weep.

I saw one the other day, an old Unigate van but the driver was obviously running a franchise.A victim of the shareholders wanting more for their return and the supremacy of the supermarkets.

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