Thursday 22 December 2011


by Daniel Preston
This  incident took place around 1964 when I was a newspaper boy.  I was still at school in those days. and  worked part-time for Reg Taylor, who had a newsagents shop in Wheelock Street where  the Choklat Bar is in the present day.
I took the round over from Ian Sant and  had morning and evening deliveries which paid ten shillings each (50p in decimal currency). I also had Sunday morning deliveries, which paid four shillings (20p).
Thursday evening was the hardest round, as that is when the Middlewich Guardian and Middlewich Chronicle came out. 
Also the Radio Times  (which had the listings for B.B.C. TV and radio) and the T.V. Times (which had the listings for ITV - in our area Granada TV during the week, and ABC Television at weekends). Everybody and his dog wanted the extra tonnage of papers on Thursday evening - one dog especially.
St. Anns Road
, just before where the Lily Works was then and the Newton Court care home is now, there is a fork in the road. 
One house  I made deliveries to was on Newton Heath, the street that angled off to the right from
St. Ann's Road
. On my evening rounds, I would come along
Wheelock Street
, then up
Darlington Street
, then turn left at the top and go to this particular house. 
There was a dog that lived there, not a big dog, but one well trained by his master. Every evening when I slid the paper into the letterbox, the dog would grab it in his jaws and snatch it from my hands and the letterbox would slam shut with a loud clap.
Meanwhile, the dog would be scampering off, presumably to lay the newspaper dutifully into his master’s lap. I can just see said master, sitting back in his armchair, smoking his pipe and sipping a snifter of brandy.
He would, of course, be wearing a heavy duty bathrobe and slippers, feet up on a stool.
“Good boy!” he would say, picking up the papers, “now let’s see what’s on the bally telly tonight.” 
Meanwhile, said ‘Good boy’ would settle in to lie comfortably at his master’s feet while  a roaring fire in the ornate fireplace would bathe the pair in its ruddy glow.
Meanwhile I would be still be out in the pouring rain, on my bike with a ton weight of papers hanging off my shoulder in a great, soggy canvas bag.
After several weeks of the dog grabbing the paper and me not being able to get it through the letterbox before he showed up, I hit on a strategy. 
I would keep hold of the paper until I was good and ready to let go of it and  see how long the dog could hang on. 
You see, I wanted to deliver the paper. 
That meant putting the paper through the letterbox and hearing it hit the mat on the other side of the door with a satisfying thud, not have some mongrel snatch it out of my hands. 
I wasn’t bothered about what the dog did with it afterwards, just as long as he would let me do my job first.
Which brings us to one rainy Thursday night in November 1964.
My bag was full to overloading, already heavy with all the newspapers and TV magazines and made heavier by the rain. 
I had loaded them up in the back of Reg Taylor’s shop and made my way along
Wheelock Street, delivered
 papers on
Darlington Street
 and then  pushed my bike the short distance to the house with the frantic dog.
I leaned my bike by the front gate, opened it,  squelched my way up the path and  pulled out the papers for this house - one of the evening national newspapers, the Middlewich Guardian, the Middlewich Chronicle, the T.V. Times and the Radio Times.
I folded them together with the local papers on the outside. The evening national papers weren’t too thick, but the local ones were and this made a very thick bundle… and the papers were damp, very damp.
I could hear the frantic dog scamper up to the door, eager to retrieve the papers for his master. The papers, all folded together like that, were a tight squeeze for the letterbox at the best of times. Now I had a job to get them through. As soon as they did poke through though, the dog grabbed hold and snatched them in.
However, I did not let go. I snatched them back. The dog didn’t let go either so he snatched them back to his side. I wasn’t having that, not on a night like this. Wet through and letting a dog in carpet slippers have its way? No way! 
I kept hold and snatched the papers back to my side. The dog started to turn nasty, I could hear him  growling. 
He pulled hard, I pulled hard, we both pulled hard together. 
The bundled up newspapers went see-sawing in and out of the letterbox. Of course, the papers on the outside, being wet anyway, were soon torn to sodden shreds. 
I  noticed the mess they were in, so I decided to let the dog have them now. He could trot off to his master while I trotted off down the path.
As I got back on my bike to pedal off to the next house on my rounds, I thought I heard a bewildered, “What the bally ‘ell is this?” from the house of the frantic dog.
It was one of those affairs. By the time I got back to the newsagents, the shredded newspapers were there waiting for me. They were not a pretty sight. A bit like papier-mâché that isn’t quite ready. 
Of course, I blamed it on the dog. “He wouldn’t let go,” I said. “Kept pulling on the papers and wouldn’t let me deliver them.”
 I was told that, in future, maybe I could consider putting the newspapers through the letterbox one at a time.
This would save Mr Taylor from having to consider sacking me. 
No more trouble with the frantic dog after that. First paper in, he snatched it and off he’d go. Before he got back, I’d have the rest through the letterbox and on the mat with a satisfying thunk. 
So we were all happy then and besides, Christmas was coming and I might get a chance to see Carnegie’s daughter.
 Ian Sant had told me that she was a cracker and usually gave the Christmas box to the paper lad.
That, though, is another story...  
© Daniel Preston 2011
...and so's this, albeit a somewhat similar one from Cliff Astles. Not really all that surprising, really. Dogs will be dogs. -ed
by Cliff Astles
Interestingly Daniel's story is almost identical to one of my own.
I was also a Reg Taylor paper boy!
In 1954, when I was 14 years old, I was also delivering papers along St. Ann's Road, where at the house at the bottom of Hannah's Walk I would place the morning papers through the letter box.

At the time the family living at this house had a white terrirer dog which, when he heared me delivering papers, would wait until I placed them into the letter box, take a running leap and tear at the papers.
This went on for some time, and, like Daniel in his  tale I was slighty miffed that the owner would allow his dog to do this.
Therefore, at times I would hold onto the papers until the dog had had his fun, and then put the ripped-to-shreds paper through the letter box so that the dog's owner could try to find anything that might be still readable.
Finally, the dog owner got the message and stopped the dog from being able to do this each day. 

Two satisfied customers - me and the dog owner!
© Cliff Astles 2011
The St Ann's Road house which was home to the1950s  newspaper loving dog
Photo: Cliff Astles
Facebook feedback:

Geraldine Williams There's a definite thread coming through these Tales Daniel. Obviously the Meadow Dairy hadn't asked Reg Taylor for references.......!! haha

1 comment:

  1. I also delivered papers for Reg Taylor 7 mornings and 6 evenings a week from approx. '57 - '59 and agree with everything mentioned re dogs grabbing the papers and the weight of the bag on Thursdays. Also remember taking the papers out on a sled in thick snow one morning and returning home with a touch of frostbite to the fingers - still remember the pain on thawing!
    Sunday round used to take in Bostock Hall and all stops in between - would have trouble getting on my bike these days.


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