The World According To Damien
in a World gone mad – one sane voice emerges…

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.

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4 Responses to “Damien on… British Utilitarianism”

  1. Yes the milk was rubbish but if your form-room was the Chemistry Lab (as ours was in the first year) you could disguise the taste of the milk by lighting the waxed paper straws supplied, using Bunsen burners, and smoking them – and I DID inhale!

    And I never noticed YOU secretly adding flavours, you crafty sod!

    Alfie

  2. It was only during the last three years. But others noticed and did the same. YOU must have been smoking too many of those STRAWS!

  3. The utilitarian tower blocks can be blamed on the architects also. They were dedicated conformists to fashion. Le Corbusier decreed no frills. I can detect no difference twixt the mental condition of a 1950s/1960s architect and that of a nutcase in the slammer.

    I LOVED that cream-topped milk, especially in Winter. I spent Break by the crates, with about four other guys. The prefect let us have extras near the end of Break. I would down a couple more. Half an hour later, I would excuse myself for pee.

  4. The school milk thing seems to be universal. In addition to America, I have since discovered that Australia and Thailand both had it – the latter up until four years ago. But NO-ONE ever considered FLAVOURING it – or COOLING it!

    Re Le Corbusier (ouch! You were hard on him!) – I like minimalism (which essentially was what he promoted) but to take his ideals and put “ordinary” people into the resulting creations was a gaff for which the POLITICIANS should bear the blame. I mean, if they’d stopped to look at the way regular folks lived, they would have seen that Britain is a nation of villagers. All they wanted was a lot of little houses – just with INSULATION – and no damn RATS!


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