18 February 2010

The demise of the milkman

The demise of the milkman

Our milkman has decided to call it a day - bad back is his reasoning - and no-one wants to take over his route around Boroughbridge. 

I suspect that the weather has also caused havoc for him; I know that rounds have been taking at least twice as long at night and other milkmen have been slipping and falling over in the freezing temperatures.  I wouldn't want to be out in the depths of the night with temperatures sometimes below -10oC.

Last year was also another bad year for milkmen as Dairy Farmers of Britain went into administration in June 2009.  So I guess that means we will need to start going to the local shops for milk.

There is a note of nostalgia in my views about milkmen.  They are one of those quaint little strands that makes England what it is, but we cannot and must not stand in the way of progress, I suppose.  However I shall miss the neat array of glass bottles sitting on the doorstep, the routine of putting out the bottles to be reused (very green compared to big plastic bottles), while my ears will no longer be subconsciously woken up by the sound of the milk being delivered.

Electric Milk Float

While our milk here has never been delivered on an electric milk float.  That high pitched whine of the milk float was one of the sounds of the English cityscape and much like the sound of the cuckoo is disappearing from our landscape.  I loved the sound of the milk float when I lived in London.

There's a whole site on milk floats at http://www.milkfloats.org.uk/index.html with sounds and videos at  http://www.milkfloats.org.uk/media.html.  My favourite audio file is http://www.milkfloats.org.uk/delivery.wav.

The demise of the milk man reflects the rise in the grocery multiples who dominate the shopping habits of Britain and, I guess America and every major economy now - Tesco is big in Thailand and Eastern Europe.  We like the convenience of driving to an out of town supermarket, piling the car up with all kinds of goodies and then trundling back home, or we love the convenience of shopping online and getting our groceries delivered by Tesco or Ocado or Asda.

Times change.  It may be nothing but the previous milkman also ran the village Post Office, but that closed about one year after he stopped doing the milk round.

Is this the end of rural England, or is rural England really just a myth that we all think made England what it is?