Today’s planned blog was derailed (in a good way) by a tweet. A twitter friend tweeted about plans in Scotland to return the “milk break” to all primary school children. (You can read the article here if it’s a topic of interest.)
As one of the generation whose milk was “snatched” by Maggie Thatcher, this brought back immediate and very strong memories – mostly of sitting in class, being urged by my teachers to drink a bottle of lukewarm milk (apologies to anyone eating while reading this, but the comparison that came to mind was that it had the glossy consistency of runny snot), while everyone else in the class had happily finished their milk and were now creating artworks out of plasticine.
So, I tweeted a comment along the lines that school milk had been awful for me and I was glad to see the back of it. I nearly added something pompous to reassure that I appreciated the value of assisting our childrens’ nutrition standards because (remembering those happy 6-year-olds creating Morphs while I tried to finish a 1/3 pint bottle of blood-temperature snot) I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO DIDN’T LIKE THE STUFF. There was an outcry when Thatcher banned it, after all.
But no, twitter came alive with people whose memories of school milk had put them off milk for life. I was not alone! This was a wonderful, healing experience – my view was vindicated and I was released from a lifelong supposition that I was a lone freak for detesting a key element of juvenile nutrition.
So, what does this have to do with reading/writing, you may be asking (that’s if you’re not reliving traumatic, lukewarm milk memories, of course). Well, it made me think about how individual experiences can resonate with others, even when you don’t think they will.
I believe we read in order to connect with other people and share our experiences. We read to get that “me too” sensation about our thoughts and feelings – for the relief when we can say “I thought it was just me” and know that we were wrong to think that. We read to know that, despite being trapped in a single body and mind, we share what it is to be human.
When writing I’m often assailed by fears that other people “won’t get” what I’m writing – maybe it really is just me who feels this particular passion, or fear or hope.
But connecting on twitter about school milk has reassured me that whatever thoughts and feelings I explore in my writing other people will “get” it, because within the individual experience (of myself or my character) there is something universal which will resonate with others who feel the same. Whatever our feelings and memories, we’re not alone, and what a wonderful thing that is to know.
Now I need to go and give my six-year-old self a hug and promise her it gets better – there’s green tea ahead!