'A Few Bob'
"Earning a few bob for yourself and your
mother at the tender age of twelve was very common in these days.
"We would get up very early in the morning
and, prior going to school, deliver milk for the Co-op.
In Bowling Green St, you collected your large
wheeled bar off a pend at the collecting point, collected your deliver
book and load of milk, usually about four crates containing a dozen pint
bottles in each crate. It was a heavy load for a wee skinny laddy like
"My run started at the top of Bangor Rd, then
Burlington St. and Breadalbane St.
Then the route back to base was via Bangor
Lane, which had a pillar in the centre of it to stop vehicles accessing.
The gap between the wall and this pillar was barley enough to get the
barrow through and you had to take a run at it because it was up a hill.
After a day's work, tired and weak, you might
have to take a couple of runs at it. On many occasions I would skin my
knuckles on the wall trying to get through this narrow gap.
The other hazard with the barrow was when it
was loaded very heavily. It had long piece of metal suspended from
the front of it, that acted as a break or stop.
Bangor Rd is a steep hill, and if the barrow
got away from you and you let the front down too suddenly, to stop, the
barrow would tip over, scattering the whole load of milk all over the
"At Christmas, you would pay greater attention
to collecting your empty milk bottles, expectantly looking for your
Christmas tip. In the darkness of the common stair, you would stick
two fingers into the empty bottle lift it up hoping to find a note or hear
the rattle of coinage.
On most occasions your fingers were coated
with the thick, smelly and slimy dregs of green sour milk, clinging to the
inside of the bottle, where nobody bothered to wash them out, or they
smelled of urine, having been used as a night bottle."
Gas Board Man
"On my early morning milk run, I used to meet
the man from the Gas Board. His job was to go around all the common
stairs and turn out the gas lighting. He suggested to me, that if I
turned out all the gas lights on the top and second-top floors he would
reward me at the end of the week. I did this for a few weeks, but somehow
we never managed to meet again. I wonder why?
"Some of my customers were comedians. One
would give me a right telling off if I was late, or failed to knock on the
door - not because he was waiting for his milk. No, I
was his alarm clock for him to get up for work.
Needless to say, that when I delivered his
milk after this, I laid the milk down very quietly and tiptoed away.
'Donít mess with this kid'.
"The winter time was the worst. We had
no anoraks or parkas or suitable warm clothing on those days. At
best, a balaclava, woolly gloves and a warm jersey. In the bitter cold, as
a kid with a vivid imagination, climbing these dark stairs was quite