During the eighties I used to do a bit of relief truck driving for a local small familly run agricultural haulage company.
Their bread and butter work was running farm vegetable produce from a packing plant in Norfolk to various wholesale markets around the country.
Harvested produce was run from the fields to the plant in the morning,washed packed and loaded the same day.
A typical run would be to leave the plant in the afternoon, absolutely bursting at the seams, disgorge vegatables from one end of the country to other, grab a few hours sleep in the cab and find something to bring home.
The truck was usually a late 70's Volvo F7 tractor unit pulling a forty foot semi-trailer.The modest 230hp, was, incredibly by today's standards deemed sufficient to power the outfit at a rated gross weight of 36 tonnes. It had over 750,000kms on the clock and fully laden,took a couple miles of to get up to its terminal velocity of 60mph.
First stops were the old Spitalfield and Convent Garden markets, they've been rebuilt now but the old ones were crawling with huge lorries from all over Europe, tip-toeing their way through the wobbly maze of timber stalls originally intended for use by horse and cart.
You had to find and bribe a forklift to get unloaded. Next stop Bristol, big and modern market, likewise, finally, Swansea, then off to park up for what was left of the night, ready to backload home.
On one occasion, I crawled the lorry empty, up the welsh mountains to park up on the doorstep of the Llanethli steel works ready to load in the morning.
The loading shed was of sci-fi movie proportions. My fifty foot rig was like a mouse on a kitchen floor.
The crane rode around dangling from overhead rails with a man in a little cab underneath.
A forman sort of bloke joined me on the trailer to guide the two ten ton rolls of thin steel that were destined to be made into treacle tins by Tate and Lyle in London.
He spotted a sack containing a few left over cabbages.
In his strong musical welsh accent he said "Is that cabbages drive?" (That's what they call you) I said he could help himself.
He got one out, standing in the middle of trailer as if were a stage, the crane stopped, awaiting instruction. He held the cabbage aloft on the tips of his fingers and called out "you have to work here twenty years before you get a cabbage"