13/03/2011 15:24 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Milking The Memories

When I was little girl one of my staunchly left wing grandmother's favourite taunts of the then Prime Minister was to call her Mrs Thatcher, Milk Snatcher. She was given this somewhat Dickensian moniker by the Labour faithful thanks to her decision in 1971 to end free school milk for the over-sevens as a money saving measure.

Now our brand new Conservative PM has been quick to scotch rumours that he had planned to follow in the Iron Lady's footsteps and stop free milk for the under-fives too - or do a moo-turn.

What a shame. Whatever my personal opinion of Mrs T, I will be forever grateful to her for releasing me from the torture of school milk as soon as I hit seven.

The memories of those little bottles of evil tasting white liquid haunt me to this day. All my primary school classmates would fight to do the milk run. To our tiny minds it seemed like a grand responsibility to walk out the playground on our own and heft in the plastic crate of clinking bottles to our classroom. But that was where the pleasure ended.
In the winter the milk was always partially frozen. You would end up sucking for dear life as chunk of ice got stuck in the straw poked in through the silver foil lid. The resulting drink was a chilly mix of queasily thick globules of cold cream and watery clumps of frozen crystals. Horrible. Evey, 34, agrees: "I still remember hating the cold of it. Even now my milk has to be room temperature."

Summertime was even worse. The crate of milk was delivered at dawn by the milkman and left to sweat in the sunshine until morning break time some hours later. As the rays beat down on the little glass bottles the milk turned sour and sickly. Cream floated greasily on the top and the taste of the warm, half curdled milk, was nauseating. How I hated the stuff.

Even today I can't look a glass of milk in the eye without a slight feeling of my gorge rising. I think my early experiences of school milk put me off it for life and I am not the only one. Kate, 38, says: "It was always the wrong temperature. Either too warm and tasting sour or frozen on the top. It put me off milk in my tea for life and I can still only drink it black."

David, 45, who is a self proclaimed sour-milk phobic as a result of drinking school milk, recalls "I was forced to drink sour, left-in-the-sun, milk by evil nuns as a child. I'm still not fully over it." While, Ellie, 35, says she still can't drink 'straight milk' after the horror of school milk. Jan, 34, says "It was horrible. It didn't taste like the milk we had at home and I dreaded being forced to have it every afternoon".

Michael, who admits to being old enough to remember having his milk stopped by the Thatcher government, says "I can't say I missed it that much". So I am sorry grandma, but it looks as if for the school children of the 70s that much reviled milk snatching was an act of mercy, rather than a cruel privation. So perhaps David Cameron's U-turn on stopping school milk isn't such a smart move after all.

What do you think?
Do you remember the horror of that thick school milk?
Do you think providing milk to under fives is essential?