ONE day this week there were three supermarket delivery vans down our road all at the same time.
The opportunity to shop online is obviously very attractive to busy people and the luxury of having everything dropped off on your doorstep couldn’t be more convenient.
It’s being sold to us as a great new idea but as you and I both know, having your groceries delivered to your front door is as old as the hills.
We didn’t have laptops and iPads – we had an order book. Ours was a small, dog-eared notebook with a red cover, which my mum would have bought from the post office as she was signing her family allowance dockets with a nibbed pen dipped in ink (can you still buy blotting paper?).
The red book had our name and address on it and the weekly order for the shopkeeper was written in pencil over a couple of pages.
The order hardly changed week by week and the cost didn’t vary much.
I would be sent round to the bottom shops to hand the order to Graham, the grumpy grocer in a smudged brown coat. Once the order was made up, the ‘boy’ would load it into the cage contraption welded on to the front of his big black bike and deliver it.
Standing the heavy bike on two front forks, he’d lift a packed, battered box and carry it to the door. Every week without fail.
Everything had to be bought fresh because unless you were posh and had a fridge, it all went into the larder, although we called it a pantry.
I still feel bilious at the memory of the smell and taste of warm milk on the turn.
It was a big day for me when I got a job as an order boy at Wilkinson’s the Greengrocers on Burton Road.
The health and safety briefing I got before I was allowed to hit the road was extensive: “Do you know your way around? Right, there are the orders, there’s the bike. If you fall off make sure you don’t buckle a wheel.”
So next time you see a supermarket’s shiny delivery van, think of lads like me, wobbling along the pot-holed streets of Manchester with your weekly shop.