Damien on… British Utilitarianism
I attended school in Britain from 1957-69. And during that time, we had “school milk”.
This was provided by Her Majesty’s Government as an attempt to finally eradicate rickets, scurvy and all ills associated with childhood under-nourishment. But there was a PROBLEM. No-one liked it.
Can you BLAME them? The catch was that while the milk came fresh every day – in specially-designed one-third-of-a-pint glass bottles with foil tops – no-one had FRIDGES in those days. Certainly not schools. Thus it tasted VILE.
But yours truly came up with a solution. I bought some bottles of FLAVOURING. Concentrated banana, strawberry and chocolate essence. And every day, I’d decant a squirt into a small, screw-top bottle and take it to school in my pocket. Then when the milk arrived, I’d pour it into the milk bottle – put my hand over the top and give it a shake – et voila! MILK-SHAKE!
One time, a teacher enquired what I was doing. I showed him. “Oh,” he said. He knew I’d beaten The System, but being unable to come up with a rule covering it, buggered off. Soon, other kids followed my lead. The only tragedy is, I didn’t think of it until I was 13.
I understand from Bill Cosby’s 1965 album, “Why Is There Air?”, that American kids had the same experience .
And it was in those same ’50s and ’60s that HMG came up with another winner. “Tower-Blocks” (in America – “The Projects”). These edifaces were erected as fast as the government could tear down the millions of rat-infested Victorian slums that blighted our land. But again, there was a PROBLEM. No-one wanted to live in them.
As a result of which, they were torn DOWN again in the ’70s and replaced by “maisonettes” – TINY houses that looked like they came from Toytown. But at least they were better than the blocks.
And at about the same time, thanks to the Bitch-Queen Of Mean – Margaret Thatcher – school milk got dumped as well. [You’ll need the Perfumed Fart voice for the following…] “We don’t need to PAY for the PLEBS to get nourishment. We’ll just tell them that due to our wonderful advances with the NHS [National Health System] it’s no longer needed. Yes, I know Labour built the NHS and we’re busy decimating it – just don’t mention that fact.”
Thus two things designed for The People got canned which, had Utilitarianism not ruled, might still have been with us today.
The thing is, had HMG added flavourings – and invested in fridges for the schools – kids would have LOVED school milk. And the extra cost would have been MINIMAL. Likewise, had they added a few frills to the tower-blocks, people wouldn’t have ended up throwing themselves off the tops in DESPAIR.
In Britain, tower-blocks’ lighting was minimal and “vandal-proof”. The lifts were frequently out of order (ever tried carrying two babies and a pram up twenty flights of stairs?) and when they DID work, they smelled of URINE. The corridors were bare concrete and only got decorated by GRAFITTI.
But in Holland, they too built tower-blocks – and there, people were queueing up to get IN. Why? Because in theirs, the lifts were reliable and had mirrors in to make them appear BIGGER. And instead of the corridors being basic concrete – they had carpets, hessian wallpaper and pictures. And their entrances had wood paneling. And the whole had bright lights with lamp-shades.
My point is, because OUR tower-blocks were designed along utilitarian lines, the people felt like no-one cared – so why should THEY? And as result, Britain wasted BILLIONS erecting – then a few years later, tearing down – buildings which, if some RESPECT had been given to their occupants, could still have been around today.
In short, in order to save a PITTANCE (how much does cheap carpet, hessian wallpaper and a few prints and lampshades COST – compared with the price of a whole tower-block?) by going utilitarian, HMG – and thus, the British tax-payers – wasted a FORTUNE.
And thanks to the same thinking, my generation still thinks of milk with a SHUDDER.