'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Milk; Fags And The NHS

Over the years to make money I had many paper rounds and also delivered milk. However, I always considered myself to be more of a paper boy, than a milk boy. You tended however to make more money as a milk boy and also received better tips. And if one was on a milk float it was better fun-less solitary because one was in company.

That said, I had a number of milk rounds over the years, including working for Douglas Blades, more of which in a future blog. At times I worked for a small dairy shop at Boroughmuirhead, Bruntsfield and also Berry's Dairy at Falcon Road West. These shops were there for decades and were family businesses. For delivering the milk I had a two wheel metal barrow. It was a solid, heavy old thing; Sean Connery had probably used the same one back in 1940!

Delivering The Milk
(Peter Hoffmann)
On weekdays there were four to five crates of milk to deliver; on the Saturday there was an extra crate which also accommodated some cream and butter. My round encompassed the old tenement flats around Bruntsfield Place; whereas the Berry’s Dairy job covered Morningside Road and the streets off. 

On some occasions in the New Year whilst we were still on holiday Iain Hoffmann, Les Ramage, Ali Douglas and Paul Forbes sometimes accompanied me-for a laugh and to liven things up we would drop one of the tetra packs from the top floor of one of the tenements. It had to be dropped in a certain way, so that it fell like a stone with a corner taking the impact-the noise broke the deep silence in the building and of course there was milk everywhere-we raced down the stairs quickly before disturbed residents opened their doors.

What was better fun was working for Edinburgh&Dumfrieshire Dairies on their battery powered three wheeled vehicles. These were open sided, to allow the milk boys-usually three of us, to hop on and off the vehicle, with our little four or eight pint carriers. We’d dart in and out of the Morningside houses collecting the empties and replacing them with gleaming full bottles of milk. Up until then I presumed all that one could buy was silver top milk; however, some of these fancy houses received red top and also gold top-the latter, being Jersey milk.
This work was more fun because one was in the company of others, rather than being on your lonesome. That said, on icy cold mornings my hands would get painfully cold, almost reducing me to tears. What was deadlier however was going down the incredibly steep Craighouse Avenue with its right angle turn into Balcarres Street. I always thought the vehicle was going to over-turn; especially when the roads were covered in ice. To counteract the threat of this happening, all the boys had to stand on the driver’s side or else vacate the vehicle.

A good friend who worked regularly for the Dummy was Geoff Hunter.He lived at Oxgangs Farm Avenue. I worked on and off at different times with him-often after he had inveigled me away from the loneliness of the long distance paper-boy!

Geoff Hunter
I haven't seen Geoff for almost forty years. He was a nice lad-a very able student in our class at Hunters Tryst School where he was never out of the top three and who went on to Boroughmuir Secondary School too. I hung about with him on and off over the years. We scived off school together-being in different classes at the Junior School we had to fabricate headaches and temperatures at the same time! On another occasion we scived off school to go the Radio 1 Roadshow in Princes Street Gardens; we'd visit the Pit Stop Cafe at Chesser where my grandfather footed the bill for our bacon rolls and orange juice; we played table tennis together at the after school club; and also attended Boys Brigade together at Barclay Church, Bruntsfield each Friday evening retiring with others afterwards to Demarcos Cafe at Tollcross to enjoy their fabulous coke floats and hamburger rolls. Geoff was a smoker and got me into the fags too for a few months. Today he's Head of Personnel at NHS Edinburgh and is still a talented table tennis player and goalkeeper.

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