Happy Farter's Day, Dad

An earlier version of this post appeared on The Women’s Colony.  Gift-giving ought to have been tonight but Dad is going to The Comedy Store instead, so receipt is now scheduled via my mother, for Tuesday.

People who have been reading my little corner of the internet since the early cretaceous period might remember this post regarding my father’s unseemly obsession with milk bottles.  Not just any milk bottles, you understand, but old ones with colourful advertising on them.

When I returned home after three years in Aotearoa, I noted that despite my mother’s best efforts a number of unbroken, sparkling-clean milk bottles were on proud display throughout the house.   My father continues to insist they will be worth something one day, and we offspring will be glad of the enhanced value of our inheritance as a result of these objects we have so roundly mocked for so many years.

L-R: Horlicks, InterCity Trains, Doorstep Fresh Milk, and Patriotic Promotional bottle.

L-R: Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate, Lakeland Creameries, and Tom Parker’s Oaties.

Fast forward to a few months ago when we were celebrating K-man’s birthday with a long weekend in Dorset.  I died twice running 8 miles up hill and down dale on the first day, and was fit only for some mild shopping on the second and third days.  Thus it was that we found ourselves exploring the back passages of Bridport, whereupon we discovered a thriving antique junk scene.

I love junk, and we whiled away a couple of hours wading through the assorted wreckage of a thousand musty house-clearances.   In an open warehouse piled high with the weird and wonderful K-man cast his eye to a dusty top shelf, and espied the very last thing either of us expected: four milk-bottles with colourful advertising.

My father had an iPhone surgically implanted this Christmas, and is now constantly plugged into The Matrix, so I knew he would pick up.  Guess what? I exclaimed.  Following a briefing, I enquired whether he might want me to purchase said milk-bottles for his collection.  Want to know how much they are? I said, suppressing a chuckle.  No, guess.

No, not £200 each.

In the background, my mother’s Emergency Voice said Milk-bottles?  What the hell?  She is NOT buying you milk-bottles!

Well, my father sighed, I would be castrated if I said yes, so I’ll leave it to your discretion, but don’t go overboard. There was a sparkle in his voice.

I bought two of the four.  Of the remainder, one turned out to be an orange-juice bottle, not a true milk bottle (the giant picture of an orange on the front reminded me that the milkman would deliver juice and eggs too).  One was marked ‘Not For Sale’, I assume because of the irony of the caption reading “Support your milk man -don’t let him be a thing of the past!”, a reference to Thatcher’s (*cough* *spit*) gradual phasing-out of the daily milk delivery system involving an electric ‘milk float’ and deposit of a completed order slip and envelope of cash outside the door each day.  You can insert your own Bill Bryson quote about halcyon days gone by.

[Aside: I am personally disgusted that the material of choice these days is plastic.  I mean, please.  How far have we really come?  Mr. Milkman no longer has a job, little old ladies have to travel inconvenient miles to buy their milk/bread/eggs/juice from a gargantuan impersonal supermarket that doesn’t notice when they’ve fallen inside their home and can’t get up, and mountains of plastic are carted off to landfill faster than you can say ‘what happened to conservation priorities?’  Milk bottles are the very definition of community-based re-use, re-cycle: empties were collected by Mr. Milkman, industrially cleaned, and put right back into circulation.]

Here they are:

On the left is a milk bottle advertising a brand of biscuits my father used to sneak into our lunch-boxes when my mother wasn’t paying attention.  I think you’ll agree it is pleasingly retro.   On the right is a Kellogg’s Cornflakes word puzzle bottle, which will cause paroxysms of joy.

I learned that today’s market value of a pair of yesteryear’s by-products that nobody else wants is £9. I beat the shop-keeper down from £10 but even so, as I forked over my cash I felt I was being ripped off.  I heard the Do What Your Mother Tells You part of my brain screaming as it tried to stop me, but it was powerless.

My father doesn’t know I’ve got them, and he will have to wait until Fathers’ Day to find out, by which point he will have forgotten that the conversation ever took place.  He will be thrilled, and my mother will want to wring my neck.

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6 Responses to “Happy Farter's Day, Dad”


  1. 1 Meg June 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    That is too cool that your dad likes to collect milk bottles. Having milk men again would be so lovely, heck I’d just be glad if we had glass bottles for milk again. I’m so bloody tired of plastic being used for everything.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. 2 Graham Manning June 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Wow. I can’t understand how France lost. Could that have been quicker. I guess I just expected that they had a good shot to do well in this years world cup. I guess I will have to wait. Maybe its time to jump on the Argentina bandwagon. Looks like Demichelis has already scored. Go Argentina. To cheer me up from that devastating loss by France, I have been watching some funny jokes.. Here is a good one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3j7uSbccSc

  3. 3 Kittie Kremmel June 28, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Argentina is annihilating their opponents in the world cup. Argentina is in all likelihood going to take it all, I pity whoever they’re playing next!

  4. 4 Shayla Hutchinson June 28, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I had errors viewing the site in Safari on the Mac, but apart from that loved the post! :)

  5. 5 Buford Chetram June 30, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Hello and congratulations on your post. I found it via Google. Though I couldn’t read the whole of it, maybe I should blame my sloppy Internet connection. It got hanged each time I tried your links. Hope things work in future. Anyways, keep blogging.

    • 6 nic June 30, 2010 at 10:05 am

      Hi, and thanks for your comment! I’m sorry you couldn’t read the whole post. I have had a couple of people say they had problems viewing the site on a Mac using Safari, but it’s a bit of a mystery as that’s what I use and it’s fine when I look at it. Perhaps it is your connection? Anyway, welcome!


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