Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Years ago your correspondent was what they call a floater. The more puerile might raise a nostril, but being a floater for Co-Op Milk was noble work. You turned up at 3 am, and if any of the fifteen odd milkmen failed to show, you had to get hold of the milkman's delivery logbook and do their milk round. Once, maybe twice a week, sometimes for weeks on end you'd get a milk round, otherwise your main job was making tea for the supervisor, running the Bedford TK to deliver to schools, canteens and the university, hosing down the milk yard and arranging empty milk crates. One of the problems of being a floater was you never got to learn a milk round with any great intimacy and of the 365 or 366 days in the year the only day you got off was Christmas day. At the same time, more often than not, you'd be on your walk home by around 6 am.

Most milkmen kept the information concerning their milk round in their heads rather than in their logbooks, which meant that most logbooks were pretty much useless except for working out the order of the deliver round. The office had a master list of customers associated with each round, so at least when you left  the milk yard you had rough idea of how many milk bottles went on which doorstep and how many crates went into which corner shop. One much older milkman had a logbook that was entirely devoid of any entries, except for one. The address was a corner shop and news agent in the older part of the city. In large letters the entry read, 'Biscuit.' And Lo it was one of those small overweight harmless looking friendly dogs with a wagging tail and a smile on its tongue that would waddle in your direction, and if you were carrying a crate of milk and if you didn't give it a biscuit it would grab your trouser leg in its jaws and was almost impossible to politely shake off. My own equally unhelpful contribution to that particular logbooks sole entry was '---in bowl on shelf by door.'

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