"The young today will no doubt find it strange to learn that during previous centuries, people would have to walk miles with a jug in order to buy a quantity of milk for the family table. My mother used to tell me as I grew up that she walked a six-mile return journey each day to collect the milk for the family before she went to school. In later life, I came to accept that mum's six mile daily trek was probably nearer one, once I started to realise that in any farming country like Ireland, one is never too far away from a milking cow.
I recall being a youngster at school and getting free milk daily at break times. One of my sneakiest tricks played on mum would be when I'd be the first up on a morning in order to bring in the bottled milk from the doorstep. At first, I would carefully remove the silver-foiled top and after drinking half the head of cream in each bottle, I would try to replace the cap. Whenever I left the top too loose, mum would know that I'd been at the cream and give me 'what for.'
I was 7 or 8 years old before I noticed little pin prick holes in the tops of some uncapped milk bottles on people's doorsteps. I later learned that they had been caused by thieving birds pecking at the cream from the bottle neck. This newfound knowledge provided me with the ideal opportunity to engage in the 'perfect crime'; how to steal the cream head inside the bottles and get away with it! A number of finely pricked holes by use of a sewing needle would enable me to suck out most of the cream while leaving the silk foil tops intact around the bottle neck. My usual response when bringing in the milk was, 'It looks like the birds have been at the cream again, Mum.' And on those occasions when I hadn't been able to get a small enough needle to prick with and used a much thicker knitting needle instead, I would blame it on a stray cat.
It felt fair grand to get one up on stupid adults. When I consider my past, I am frequently obliged to accept that telling lies is a common fault in any boy; it is an art in a lover, an accomplishment in a married man, and it becomes second nature to an author who needs to stretch the imagination of his readers and occasionally, suspends their critical judgement." William Forde: November 19th, 2016.