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On The Doorstep

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Every morning I go out for a walk to freshen myself up for the day. It could be along the river path or by the allotments or over the old bridge. What is a constant though is that when I step out at 6-45 am the milk bottles are always on my doorstep. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, whether it is winter or summer. Icy, rainy or a lovely summer morning. There they are.

My admiration for my Milkman (and it is a he) knows no bounds. Six days a week and up at heaven knows what time to sort the delivery and get out. I have no idea what sort of life style that must entail. Does it mean he would miss the match in midweek, not go to concerts, not go to dinner parties (ok, that is a bonus).I remember years ago when I had Tess (aka best dog in the world) she would always, even after 10 years, wake up when the milk arrived and give one bark and go back to sleep. It was very annoying. I never did look at the time so have no idea when the stuff actually arrives but I’m guessing about 5 am.But arrive it does i.e. it comes to me. I’m sure this is not a popular view but I dislike intensely the current trend of people going to supermarkets or even the local shop to pick up their plastic bottles. I find this annoying for two reasons:The first is the obvious one of even more plastic being dumped into the cycle of waste produce. Glass bottles can be washed and used again and again. Maybe they should put a 5p bonus on every bottle returned like they used to do with pop bottles. Mind you, I suppose that would mean kids ransacking my doorstep overnight for the bottles I’ve left out - so forget that.On The Doorstep
The second reason is that the milk round gives employment to people. I spoke to Gus one day before he retired and he told me that when he first started back in the 90s he had enough deliveries on his round to only have to do that one round When he was selling the business the new chap has to do four rounds because so many people had stopped having milk delivered.I suppose in my case there is an added reason for having milk delivered to my doorstep and that is being a single person living alone then he would know if something was wrong if the milk bottles started to accumulate over a period of a few days. Gus knew everybody and would soon find out if I was on holiday and forgotten to cancel. Which never happened by the way. Just so you know.Following on from that thought brought about a memory of Herman’s Hermits and ‘No Milk Today’ where the singer leaves out a note to the milkman to say his love has gone away. I didn’t buy the single. I just checked on wiki for the date (1966) and in doing so noticed the entry above that one and it was about a Stephen King short story "Morning Deliveries (Milkman No. 1)" (in the horror anthology Skeleton Crew (1985)), concerning a milkman who kills people by leaving "surprises" (including poison, toxic gas, and venomous spiders) in their milk cans.Let’s talk about Sterilised milk. I was brought up in Birmingham and the long thin bottles were the only ones that were delivered round our way. We had pasteurised at school and I hated the stuff. It wasn’t until I was about 15 that I converted. I don’t even know if stera is sold anymore.I’m not going to talk about UHT.

On The Doorstep
Behind the Sofa
It’s three thousand miles
to the East Coast
it takes six days by ship
and seven hours by plane.
The distance from your house
to number forty eight
is twenty one yards
it will take the same time
for them to walk to your doorstep
as it does for you
to call them in New York.
Your friends are coming home
ten years of phone calls
to seconds down the road
and a knock on the door
on a Tuesday night
when the bath’s running.
I know how you feel
being single is being free
so why not try feng shui
arrange the furniture
in certain lines
that hide the window
keep a camping chair
book and spare glasses
next to the wall
prepare to be quick
but most of all
don’t worry
(first published in Pennine Platform, May 2010)
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