Monday, 8 April 2013

She snatched my milk

I was at primary school in the 1970s, and I remember school milk.  It used to arrived in little half-height crates filled with little glass bottles that looked like real milk bottles but smaller - I assume 1/3 pint each.  They all had silver foil tops on, which were marked with either a "3" or a "4", I have no idea why.  I once asked my teacher if that meant they contained 3 or 4 pints, she said no it didn't as a 3 pint bottle would be much larger, and gestured how high it would be.

I liked that teacher.  She taught me to read, using the books in the series "The Village with Three Corners".  They were brilliant; they had proper stories in them, so that you wanted to get to the end in order to find out what happened to Roger Red Hat.  Once I found that I could read anything, I never stopped.  You could read brilliant and exciting stories, like "The Stepping Stones", in which Roger Red Hat has to cross a dangerous river.  Or you could read hilarious stuff like "The Cat in The Hat", I remember that book rendering me insensible with laughter on the (linoleum) floor of the classroom.  I owe that teacher a huge debt of gratitude, but I can't even remember her name.

Anyway, the milk would arrive at some point during the morning, and would wait until there was a suitable break in the lessons.  Then we would collect a blue straw and a bottle and take it back to our seat, and push the straw through the tin foil lid to drink the milk.  By then, it was always warm, and not very appetising.  I used to finish it though, because one of my Mum's frequent comments was about how good for you milk was.  Lots of my classmates didn't - I'd say about half the milk was left undrunk, not to mention the bottles that were still in the crate untouched.  Inevitably, there would be a long delay before the bottles were collected, and the other kids would spill some, so the classroom would fill with the smell of warm and off milk.  To this day, I still detest that smell.

One day, suddenly, the milk stopped coming.

None of us cared.  I stopped feeling under pressure to drink this horrible warm stuff, and the smell eventually worked its way out of the carpets.  We spent our time doing lessons instead, or reading more adventures of Roger Red Hat.

So there, in a nutshell, you have an early appreciation on my part of the effect of government initiatives.  Stuff that most people don't want or need is acquired at who knows what cost, distributed inefficiently to people who don't really need it, distracting them from doing what they are there to do and making them waste their time doing something else instead.  I was a Thatcherite by the age of 6, I just didn't realise it until I was about 22.

Thank you, Lady T.  RIP.