A couple of days ago I received an email from my nephew, AR, an Aston Villa fan who currently lives in the Howe o’ the Mearns. He told me he was writing a book about Forfar Athletic Football Club. He has written other books about football and he was also the founding editor of Missing Sid an Aston Villa Fanzine. His decision to write the history of the Loons inevitably minded me of my young days in Forfar, from where my first memory stems.
I am sure as a baby I was weaned too rapidly off the big tins of National Dried Milk otherwise it would never have occurred to me - a wee two years old laddie - to snatch the milk bottle out of the hands of a baby lying in one of those posh high Rolls Royce-like carriages that were the prams pushed by aspirant parents in those days. With that baby’s bottle in my hand I guzzled happily at the milk until, (a), the bereft baby began to cry and scream loudly and (b), I was discovered by the baby’s mother who vehemently informed me that I was a wicked, greedy and selfish boy. My own mother arrived on the scene quite promptly and apologised profusely for her errant son’s behaviour. If such a state is possible, my mother seemed both ashamed and amused at what had happened. Despite the ectasy of ingesting a great deal of that comforting warm milk it dawned upon me that the tone of the grown ups’ voices signalled that I had done something dreadful. My sense of my mother’s ambivalence - ashamed, yet amused - was a seminal moment for me. How could something so viscerally satisfying be so wrong?
I may reflect more on those Forfar years.
At the same time Attlee's Labour government provided free cow's milk to all children at primary schools and to supplement our children's diet it also provided all children with cod liver oil and concentrated orange juice. What a caring, concerned approach this was towards the nurture of all our children, especially at a time when our country, bankrupted by war, was poor. Our current government boasts that we are the fifth or sixth wealthiest economy in the world and yet look at our state. Increasing poverty, financial cuts to welfare, to education, to libraries and so on, not to mention the deliberate, considered deconstruction and destruction of this country's greatest achievement, the National Health Service.