School milk memories

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.

My fridge door contents.
My dairy-free fridge door: two varieties of milk, no trace of a cow.

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!

10 thoughts on “School milk memories

  1. It surprised me too how many people shared the school milk experience! And isn’t it odd how an almost-forgotten memory can release images, smells, textures from 40-odd years ago. I’m sitting here remembering my primary class, my teachers, the good times and the less good of my Glasgow childhood. A lot of them were happy days – but I could still have done without the milk!


    1. Me too! I thought I was the only one who hated it, but I’ve yet to find anyone who actually liked school milk! And isn’t memory a funny thing – that plasticine recollection is absolutely indelible in my head while so much else has been lost.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I principally remember having to still drink FROZEN MILK during the winter. Or even worse, partially defrosted frozen milk. Warm milk was ugh too. I do think school milk is the absolutely main reason why I’m paranoid about getting perishables into the fridge as soon as I possibly can.


    1. The plasticine incident was during the winter, when they’d put the frozen milk under a radiator to thaw. After that I was allowed to have my bottle of milk still frozen. Gave me ice cream head, but it was still better than warm. Shudder.


  3. Didn’t like it at all after it had been defrosted on the radiator. However when I was a new young teacher and pregnant I couldn’t get enough of the stuff and the caretaker used to put a few bottles in my stock cupboard in the classroom. ☺️


  4. Here’s someone who liked it. I can’t remember milk in the later years of primary school, but in the early years we had a fire in the classrooms and in winter they’d put the milk bottles in front of it to thaw. As I’ve always liked warm milk I’d make sure to get one close to the fire. I still like warm milk when I’m in the mood.

    Does anyone remember how cold milk became the in thing in the ’60s? Dispensed by machines, nicely chilled. Took me a while to get to like it chilled.

    How much do British people drink milk straight? There seem to be so many shakes and such. I spent 30+ years in Canada and my sons grew up there, and chugging cold milk was a popular drink with teenagers.


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