Back in 1958-59, I was working in the mornings helping Jim the Milkman deliver milk all around Jaywick. Only it wasn’t just the mornings because he never hurried. He’d stop for a cup of tea here, a piece of cake there – I’m talking about in people’s homes not at cafés – or go running off along a dyke with his binoculars if he spotted an interesting bird – or if it started raining heavily between stops we’d just sit tight in the cab and have a smoke. He smoked Woodbines, and it was him who started me smoking – back in those days no one thought it was harmful, especially if, like us, you spent so much time out in the fresh air.
I’ll return to the bird-watching in another post, but today – it’s Christmas Day 2017 as I write this – I simply want to remember every day (except Christmas Day) from Christmas Eve till New Year’s Day not getting back to the Dairy (Lord Rayleigh’s Dairies in Clacton) till long after it got dark again (we set out in the dark in the morning) . Everywhere we went, starting in Jaywick Lane then the Three Jays then all over the Tudor Estate, people asked us in for a cuppa and a mince pie or whatever, and often we went in, at least for a few minutes. And when we got to Jaywick itself it was the same, working down Meadow Way and Golf Green Road and up and down all the little roads between Meadow Way and Broadway – and the Never Say Die (we delivered there, of course, but Jim was not a great one for pubs – he didn’t need them!) and so to Brooklands and finally Grasslands as it grew dark and here everyone (which in Grasslands was not many in the winter) wanted us to come in for a drink and a smoke – and no one complained about how late their milk was being delivered!
I did two summers with Jim, when Brooklands and Grasslands were packed tight with people and another milkman did the Tudor Estate, but only that one Christmas. I will never forget it!
I remember horse-drawn milk-floats like this – and I think Jim told me he used to do his round with one – but when I was with him it was like the ones below, electric floats but still with the glass bottles that began to be replaced by cartons in 1960.