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.

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