Jayne Dawson: No use crying now, the days of the milk round are gone

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Right then. How far are you prepared to go?

We live in a time of direct action, after all. The collective mood is that if you want a job doing properly then you might as well do it yourself.

There is a lot of rolling up of the sleeves going on. We’ve got the message that the welfare state is a safety net with very large gaps in it.

People are saving their own hospitals, running their own libraries, filling the potholes in their own roads, even creating their own speed bumps - though those were promptly smoothed down and resurfaced by the proper authorities.

But these are big things. What about the little things? What about the glass milk bottle? How far would you be prepared to go to save that?

The company Dairy Crest has announced that its last bottle plant is about to close. I’m surprised the collective gust of disappointment from we people over a certain age hasn’t featured on the nation’s weather charts. Our giant sigh could have laid waste to the country’s autumn harvest.

Because we love a milk bottle, don’t we? The cheery chink of it landing on the doorstep breaks the silence of night and heralds the morning sun.

We love everything about our old-fashioned milk rounds. It’s so Just the idea of the doorstep delivery makes us feel all warm and cosy and proud to b British.

And milkmen are marvellous. They whistle, for a start. And they save lives, discovering fires, rescuing old people who have been trapped under the sofa for days, disturbing burglars - that sort of thing.

The whole business is adorable, so it’s odd that we don’t actually subscribe to the service anymore.

The truth is that the milk round has gone the way of the high street post office, the high street pub, and the high street itself.

It has become part of our nostalgic fantasy of a world that doesn’t exist anymore - and disappeared because, truth be told, we didn’t like it all that much.

In the 1970s, almost all milk was delivered in glass bottles to our doorstep. But that decade was the last, golden era of the milkman.

Heck, there was even a song about them. Benny Hill topped the charts with Ernie(The Fastest Milkman in the Wes) so some of you out there must have bought it.

But after those bizarre and occasionally brilliant years, the milk market went ...yes, sour.

As usual, the supermarkets were the villains/scapegoats. They started selling milk cheap in big plastic containers. And we started buying.

The big plastic containers didn’t chink cheerfully, they didn’t herald the rising of the sun after the long dark night - but they cost less and we could pay as we went, instead of building up a bill.

It was that weekly tally that did for me in the end. I hung on with my milkman as long as I could. But the embarrassment of opening the door every fortnight and watching him watching the panic in my eyes as I mentally ransacked the house for cash became too much. I told him I was cancelling “for a bit”. We both knew it was goodbye forever - and I was his last customer on the street.

So it’s sad about milk bottles, but I don’t anticipate much direct action. I can’t see many of us searching out a last remaining milkman and placing an order.

We will lament their passing, and continue to seek out the increasingly rare remaining specimens to use as charmingly retro vases.

But we shouldn’t mourn too much because that would be hypocritical. They stopped producing because we stopped buying, remember.

Richard Branson’s holiday idea is not a generous plan

Well now you know how Richard Branson made his millions - by being a clever chap.

His idea that employees should be able to take holiday whenever they fancy might sound a bit wacky, but what it actually means is that everyone would spend a lot more time at the coalface.

Which is good news for big bosses, but not for those putting in the extra hours.

The alternative scenario that everyone would immediately disappear for weeks on end just wouldn’t happen.

It’s not just a question of cash, it’s a matter of rights versus responsibilities. If employees have the right to four, or five, or six weeks holiday a year then they will take them, passing the responsibility of the job to someone else for the duration.

This system works because everyone is sticking to the rules. And everyone is absent for the same amount of time.

Take away the rights and all that is left is the responsibility. Because there are no rules anymore fellow workers will have to slug it out between themselves.

The result will be that lots of them will be reluctant to take time off for fear of landing their colleagues in a mess - and having to deal with the subsequent recriminations. And your boss will be able to request you work as a “favour” all too easily.

In this country, we already work the longest hours in Europe. It’s not a good idea to add to our burden. A fixed holiday entitlement is not a bothersome restriction, it is a freedom for most workers.

I am full of awe at yet another wedding marathon

I found myself full of awe and wonder when reading reports of the wedding of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin.

The same happened when I read about Kate Moss’s wedding a few years ago, and Russell Brand’s wedding to Katy Perry. And Liz Hurley’s last wedding.

They haven’t all survived I know. Liz and Russell walked away long ago.

But still, I admire them - for their stamina. Because all these people had weddings of mind-blowing extravagance that went on for days.

Goerge Clooney and his bride have just put in a four-day stint. They took over Venice, holding party after party.

I don’t know about you, but I find even the idea of it exhausting.

A wedding day is tough enough, a four-day wedding special sounds amazing, but in a draining, feet-aching sort of a way.

I know they won’t have been personally stressing over whether enough water taxis had been booked, but still it looked too much of a marathon.

I’m just glad I turned down the invitation.

WATER TREAT: The river at Otley full of people in pedalos and rowing boats.

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