As I was driving to Tiverton Parkway station this afternoon to pick up my youngest, Olivia - who was visiting for the weekend - I heard a snippet of news on the radio which caught my attention. The radio was not quite tuned in properly – I had spent around half an hour of the journey trying to tune it to a suitable station, but had given it up as a bad job so was having to put up with the crackle and spasmodic fading and shared airwaves with another channel – so I was not quite sure that I had heard it correctly.
So I checked on the internet when I got home and was not wrong in what I thought I had heard. Some of you may have heard or read about it yourselves, but for those of you who haven’t I thought I would share, what I think is, a rather touching story, albeit one that does flout the laws of this country. However, you cannot help but feel some kind of affection for the old boy.
Basically, a 72 year old milkman from Burnley, Lancashire has just been given a 36-week suspended sentence and a one year supervision order after pleading guilty to his crime last year. What is this crime? To supply pensioners on his round with a little extra with their daily pints, to help ward of their aches and pains that’s what.
“Is this a crime?” you may ask.
Hmm, well to continue. On his milk van sat an egg carton. However, this was not filled with half a dozen medium eggs as one would expect, but contained something far more potent - cannabis resin to be exact. As is much publicised this does act as an aid to relief in some illnesses and can help with nausea from chemotherapy and helps people who lose their appetite after chemotherapy. But it is a Class B drug and although the poor chap thought he was being helpful and acting as a service to the community, he was obviously charged with possession of an illegal substance.
He is certainly not the average drug dealer. His wife of 53 years has Alzheimer's and has recently gone into a home where he visits her every day. His mission, in his eyes, was to provide those with relief from pain where they cannot get it elsewhere. He was not into making any profit out of his illicit egg carton dealings.
OK a drug dealer is a drug dealer, whether 5 or 85 but as I say, you can’t really help but feel some kind of warmness towards the old chap. The thought of pensioners leaving out a note with their empties and the fact that this septuagenarian kept the resin in a egg carton on his milkvan and went out of his way - clocking up the miles - to deliver this pain relief has, in an odd way, the touch of an old scratchy black and white Ealing Comedy about it all.