Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Memory, Why Doesn't it Work?



This aged picture of a London Trotters cart was taken around the 50's/60's, I forget exactly.  I came across it sorting through things tonight.  The Trotters were rag & bone men, an early type of recycling that has long gone out of fashion.  'Steptoe & Son'  is a famous TV sitcom based on one family somewhere in Shepherds Bush trying to make a living.  There is a little emblem on the cart, could it be a council one?  I wish I had time to search through the RBK site now.  This site is full of old pictures and tales from the libraries of Kensington & Chelsea.  Well worth a look.
The use of horse and carts is rarely seen today although some breweries still use them occasionally.  My dad used one to deliver milk in the early 50's and Dunfermline Co-op were still using them until the mid sixties.  I rarely saw them in London when I lived there however one horse, bored with waiting for the boss to come out of the pub, straddled the pavement to ensure he got attention from someone on one occasion.  The St Cuthberts Co-op in Edinburgh not only used horse deliveries into the late 60's they also looked after the queens horses when she bothered to use the Scottish Royal Coach.  I suspect some London based civil servant will have sold it now.  
How good memory is in making such sights appear enjoyable, a light relief from the cares of the day. However for the man working them there was no relief until he had got back to the depot, settled the horse in a stall, cleaned up and made his way home.  It's easier to switch off an engine that deal with a horse. The pay then was poor, nothing for being sick, and sacked for anything almost. Still the sun shone more then, maybe.

Memory is useful when retracing your steps as I had to today.  I noticed the battery in the camera was running low and I mused as to whether it would work if I went out then and now.  No time to ponder, I got ready and made my way out before the rain began.  As I crossed the road the rain began.  I walked through the drizzle gardens, replacing a wreath or two blown by the wind from the memorial, and headed into town.  As I left the 'Poundshop' clutching my three for two bottles of cheap bleach, oh how I live in luxury, I noticed the camera was not in my pocket, a pocket usually kept shut by a zip. Oh dear thought I, someone has pinched it or I dropped it when replacing that wreath. How could I live without the camera?  Bad enough waiting to get it repaired let alone lose it.  What if it had been nicked, how, when, oh dear!  I splashed my way, faster somewhat, through the glistening trail, down the road, through the gardens, back home.  No sign, if dropped it was lifted and gone, no chance of that returning. Naturally as I got home I found it on the desk where I had left it after checking the battery.  The stupid old fool had forgotten to put it in the pocket.  Memory you see, I need one!

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12 comments:

Kay G. said...

Well, I am just glad that you didn't lose it! (The camera I mean, not your memory!)

soubriquet said...

We called 'em Totters, or rag n' bone men.

Lee said...

I'd give you my memory, Mr. Ad-Man, but I've forgotten where I put it!

When I was a little girl growing up in Gympie...in the early Fifties... we had the bread man come around house to house delivering bread by horse and cart. Gympie is a very hilly town...that poor horse had a job to fulfill each day...and he did so with nary a neigh.

And, oh...I can still smell and taste that delicious bread that was still warm when we bought it. Whoever was first to take it from the smiling baker(an ongoing battle between my older brother and me) we'd break the loaf apart and tear out the delicious, soft warm centre where the loaf broke open. Yum! :)

Adullamite said...

Kay, So am I, the memory I can do without....

Soub, Indeed, rag and bone men to us, usually blowing a damaged bugle and offering kids cheap 'Hong Kong' made toys in exchange for old clothes.

Lee, Supermarkets now blow that smell through the store to sell bread!

the fly in the web said...

I remember them as totters...and remember milk being delivered by a man in a trap with churns and a ladle to fill your can which you brought to the cart.
Father remembered inter war tales of an old white horse who was in the queue of horses awaiting loading at St.Enoch station...this crafty soul would look around and if he thought no one was looking would take his wagon round to the back of the queue.

soubriquet said...

Noticed the sign, 'Tizer, the Appetizer', used to see that everywhere. Sadly, the parents thought fizzy drinks would rot our teeth or something so we weren't often allowed them. Unless we were poorly, when Lucozade might be permitted, based on it's pretty dubious medicinal claims. Lucozade bottles were always wrapped in amber coloured cellophane, which we eagerly seized for the excitement of looking at a yellow-filtered world. Handy for playing at being on mars, or wherever.
Our Rag'n'Bone men never had a bugle.... Luxury, a bugle.... they just had bugle voices, yelling "Rag'n'Bone!", as they moved along. They served a handy purpose, taking all manner of stuff like rusted out dolly-tubs, much preferable to their descendants who just thieve anything not chained down.
Horses... My mum used to go flying down Constitution Hill in Swansea, on her bike, and the milkman's nag would be trudging up... One day, he was plodding across. She ducked to go under his head, no chance of braking at that speed, on the steep hill, and the horse.... ducked too. Bad call. Knocked her out and she didn't come to a halt for quite a while, broken ribs, bruises and scrapes.
And the poor old horse became phobic about crossing the street there. She tried to make amends, but he just shook his head and eyed her as horses do.
Last clause, Lee's fault, now I think I'm going to have to bake some crunchy crusted fresh bread!

Adullamite said...

Horses, dad had one horse that knew where the women fed him apples. On one occasion she was not out so the horse, while dad placed milk elsewhere, began to make it's way up the garden path becoming stuck on the fence posts. At least they knew where to stop, when to go!
I believe the one at St Enoch right enough, no fool they!

Milk from a churn? How old are you missus?

Tizer, We had that occasionally but 'Globe' drinks were more likely, often a lorry would deliver to the door and take the empties at 2d a go.

soubriquet said...

Jimmy the Milk was oft posessed of the spirit. Not the heavenly one, mostly the distilled. But he'd get around the villages, and somehow get the right bottles mostly to the right doors. In between the more distant deliveries, he'd sleep. And or local bobby.... One for several villages, he lived up in Bardsey, but he was poorly, so they sent out a new bloke.... Who happened across Jimmy the Milk, snoring, atop the crates, as his old nag pulled the cart up toward Collingham.
"Right!" yells the copper.... "You're under arrest for being drunk in charge of a vehicle!"... So the copper takes milk cart, horse, and Jimmy, the further few miles to Wetherby Nick, where he somehow expects to be greeted as a hero.
Far from it. In villages around, morning bleary eyes search in vain for the three bottles of green-top.... Coppers come out of the nick and stare at the newly minted fool.... "But, but, that's Jimmy the Milk!" "He was drunk in charge of a vehicle, namely..." he gestures expansively.... "But Jimmy's always drunk!" "It's against the law.... and I have arrested him". All eyes stare at the imbecile....
Eventually, the inspector, or some such policeman of great rank turns up.... looks at the cart load of milk warming in the morning sun.... looks at the shiny new copper, shakes his head...
"Was he asleep?"
"Yes sir"!
"Well then he wasn't in charge of the vehicle was he?",
"Well sir yes sir he was or if not who was?"
"The horse was, Idiot!... The horse knows the route... He goes from place to place and wakes Jimmy when he's needed, Jimmy just carries bottles. And you've upset all those people at breakfast time, and Jimmy's milk will be spoiled in the sun, and you..... Well, I suppose you're a townie?, ah well, lad... today you'll be a milkman."

Lee said...

I did a lot of cooking when I had my greengrocery/healthfood shop in Noosa, Adullamite...and the cooking smells certainly brought in the customers.

I used often put on a vegetable curry just before lunch time...it would be meant for my husband and my dinner that night...but nine and a half times out of ten...I would've sold it; and we wouldn't have vegetable curry that night! lol

It was a good ploy. It always works! People always follow their nose...cooking onions will always drag the mob in! :)

the fly in the web said...

Over 21!

Carol said...

No memories from me on horse drawn delivery men ~ but I do remember delivery men ~ those days are gone too.

Now did you take this photo Adullaman?

Adullamite said...

Soub, Oh the days of the local police are long gone, more's the pity. That reduced crime and ensured local eccentricities continued.

Lee, Indeed, when working I found myself at lunchtime at the back of the curry house as he warmed up yesterdays leftovers. How I laughed!

Fly, official answer accepted!

Carol, Regular deliveries are passing away now. No I didn....HOI!