Ernie doesn’t deliver here any more

In the words of Auden:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,
Beat out the time til no milk will come.

Or something like that, anyway.

It was a late Autumnal evening a couple of years back, a few weeks after we’d moved to our lovely house, that we opened the front door to find a pint of milk on our doorstep. Not yet acquainted with small town life, we were bemused to say the least. Many things were left outside doors in our previous town, Cardiff, but none were edible and fresh.

A few days later, our milk deliveries started. This being (semi-) rural Gloucestershire, it’s not just any old milk delivery, this is milk from Lucy’s Dairy. Where every carton of milk has a nice picture of Lucy with one of the cows in a free-spirited and countrysidey pose.

I drive by the farm at least once a week, and I can’t help feeling a little extra contentment, knowing that just over the hedgerow the cows are working hard to make the lovely milk that make my Shreddies taste nice. I’m convinced the cows sit (or most likely stand) in their field all day watching the locals go by. In between munching the grass they probably remark on how trim Mr Jones is as he cycles passed, or give a toothless cowy smile to Mrs Backewell as she walks her labrador Charlie in her Barbour jacket.

It’s not just cows in the field, either. I’ve never seen a delivery driver, or heard a milk-float. Do you know why? I think it’s because the cows do the delivering. Milk floats only have one pedal, and a cow’s hoof could easily work it. They’d come in teams of 4 and split-up, delivering the milk bottles all over the street.

One week, we even had blank milk cartons, and a note saying ‘sorry, we ran out of labels’. They didn’t run out… the cows temporarily got distracted and the sheep ate them. That’s my theory, anyway.

But now it’s all coming to an end. And in a few days time we’ll get our last milk delivery. It’s a sign of the times, I guess, that Mr T Esco and Mrs S Ainsbury have squeezed the little (or hoofed) guy out. But come next week there’ll be a big queue of Fresians at the Job Centre. Thankfully the milk-makers are safe, but I’m not sure how much call there is for driving cows at the moment. Frankly, I’m more than a little worried that in a few weeks there’ll be gangs of cows hanging out on street corners, bored, listening to music on their phones and mooing loudly late into the night.

So, no more milk. It’s the udder truth I tell you…

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