Milk, Bread And Other Doorstep Stories

Is it only in the UK or is this a thing globally? A milkman comes to our door three times a week, delivering milk, oat milk, eggs, butter, cheese and apple juice in various quantities. He arrives in the wee small hours and it is my first job on rising on his delivery days to bring in the goodies before sun and suburban foxes have a pop at the supplies.

Even in rural Hampshire when we lived in a New Forest cottage a mile and some from the nearest shop and four from anything resembling a village we had deliveries. Back then we had the milkman, who focused on milk (sort of in the title, really) and a bread boy. There was a butcher but mum didn’t really trust the quality of his meat.

The milkman was squat, rather deaf and desperately shy. It rather felt as if, were he to be seen he might turn to stone. If he heard one of us, or worse if we offered a greeting he would be off into the undergrowth like a well oiled otter.

The breadboy was different. His hours were less antisocial and he essayed a cheeky-chappie persona. He whistled terribly, too – a sort of reedy, flappy-lipped farty sound that never knowingly created anything resembling a familiar tune.

Dad felt it part of his remit as The Householder to engage this young shaver in conversation if their paths crossed. Dad would hear the van, stroll around the side of the house, engage the delivery chappie in some form of male banter and return looking as if he’d just awarded the prizes at the local Fruit and Veg show.

This stopped and I think so did our bread order one sunny day in the spring, probably in the early 1970s.

It wasn’t unusual for dad to take a fair proportion of his holiday allocation a day at a time, thus eking out that to which he was entitled. On those holiday days his mood would lighten as he and mum finished up breakfast and headed out either into the garden or onto his beloved New Forest to hunt for butterflies. A lively and upbeat mood would often lead to Dad teasing Mum. Mum had a lot of nicknames, one such being Pollen after dad spotted what he was sure was some dandruff on her shoulders. When he brushed it off, asking what pray was dusting her cardigan she said it was obviously pollen.

This particular day, I have no idea what dad may have said nor what mum replied, but the outcome was dad chasing mum out of the back door and around the side of the house. As Dad demanded she wait and take her punishment, Mum replied that it wasn’t Thursday and anyway she hadn’t loosened her girdle.

They cornered the house and both stopped abruptly, now confronted by an open mouthed and frankly terrified bread boy. History suggests the silence was beyond profound. Into this howling void of embarrassment, the delivery boy held out a loaf and managed a strangled, ‘Sliced tin?’

The following day Mum agreed with the bakery that it was probably best if they stopped delivering in future.

I had my own interaction with the self same bread van some two years or so later. By now I was at University and home for the summer holidays when I worked at a local hotel (my first book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is loosely based on those experiences). I had to serve three meals a day and between lunch and dinner I could if I wanted go back home for the two hour break. I didn’t often mostly because my bike, my only means of transport was as useful and reliable as a perforated condom. I was always having to tighten this or tie up that.

This day, about five I was astride my loyal if useless steed, studying some malfunctioning part as I cycled away from home. The roads were always quiet and so not looking where I was going was never an issue.

Until it was. That day I encountered the late delivery of the bread van. When I say ‘encountered’ in fact I rammed into the back of it. Perhaps ‘rammed’ is an exaggeration as my speed wasn’t fast but it was sufficient, given that the doors of the van were open, to enable me to parabola over my handlebars and land on the unforgiving floor before a cascade of loaves and buns joined me.

I must have made a dreadful noise and I knew I was in trouble as I hurriedly climbed out. To my surprise no one came and I had time to hastily push the loaves and buns back whence they’d come and wheel my even less ridable bike back home. I should have confessed, left a note or some such but I just ran. Well, hobbled. Dad took pity on me and gave me a lift to work and picked me up later. The Archaeologist even got my bike working.

I counted myself lucky the doors were open though, in retrospect, I would have been luckier if I’d missed the bloody van entirely…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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34 Responses to Milk, Bread And Other Doorstep Stories

  1. KL Caley says:

    🤣 My brother was a milkman for a while and really enjoyed it. Up early and then you have the whole day ahead of you. Great stories Geoff. KL ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  2. noelleg44 says:

    Those were the good old days here. We had a milkman when we were growing up (a loooong time ago). He left milk in glass bottles by our backdoor (had to drive up a long, steep driveway to get there) and my parents used the cream that rose to the top of the bottle for their coffee. We also had a vegetable man in the summer, with a truck full of fresh veggies from his farm, and once a year the knife sharpening man came. He would ring a bell at the bottom of the driveway in my Mm would go out and beckon him up. He walked from Florida to Maine and back each year with his grinding stone on his back.

    Liked by 4 people

    • TanGental says:

      Ah yes the knife man. Dead dodgy too… we still get veg fortnightly. And we have glass bottles for the milk. Even oatmilk!! Do you have a paperboy? We do though he’s the wrong side of 40 with a continuous spliff on the go!! Always delivers though…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to hide in a nearby bush from our milkman. Not sure why he had to be treated with such but he rarely failed to leave me yogurt treats.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My bro-in-law used to work in a bakery in his school hols and tells similar tales of destruction, it being surprisingly frequent that somebody managed to demolish whole towers of those baking racks full of goodies! He also tells tales of the Christmas cakes being made 4 months in advance (of course) during July/August heatwaves 🥵!
    I laughed out loud at the bike/van collision.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ruth says:

    As well as the daily milk-man we had a baker’s van twice a week, a grocer’s van also twice a week, and a fish van on Thursdays… Ah, those were the days! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Elizabeth says:

    You mean you still get deliveries? That hasn’t been an option here since the 1950”s.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. JT Twissel says:

    Buried in the buns, hey? My best friend’s father was a milkman up until about 1970.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. willowdot21 says:

    It a miracle you are still alive how long did it take you to realise bikes and you don’t mix?????

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Chel Owens says:

    I’ve never had a milkman or bakery-deliverer. Actually, I can’t throw a term like ‘never’ out now; not with COVID. I arranged for grocery delivery a few times.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I don’t think we have any local deliveries. How on earth did anyone photograph you looking so innocent?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We also had a milk and juice delivery service when I was young. There is none available now as every house has a high gate and electric fence so you couldn’t get to the door. Articles left on the street would be stolen within minutes. It was rather a good service when we had it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dubem says:

    Tell me you have a compilation of stories like this😩✨

    Oh, and so sorry about the hit, and your bicycle too💐

    Liked by 1 person

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