The Milk Marketing Board produced some of the most memorable advertising of the early ’80s with slogans like ‘fresh milk’s gotta lotta bottle’ and ‘nice cold, ice cold milk’. Odd times, when prime time TV featured ads for no-brand staples like ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’. And showbiz stars from Pat Coombs and Larry Grayson to Cissie and Ada (aka Roy Barraclough and Les Dawson) enticed us with ‘fresh cream cakes’. Times of the daily pinta in glass bottles on your doorstep.
By the time Jenny was living independently, those days were all but over.
We’d moved on to a consumer debate about the colour of milk bottle tops. Each supermarket chain had its own colour scheme for full, semi-skimmed and skimmed. Bizarre as it seems now, it took ages to settle into our present day consensus of blue/green/red.
For Jenny, the colour coding was almost irrelevant. First and foremost was, how to get a bottle someone with cerebral palsy could actually open.
Milk was one of those everyday necessities on Jen’s shopping list. Yet because of her disability, buying something as simple as a pint of milk could define or frustrate her entire shopping regime.
A one pint container was the maximum, as it was impossible for Jen to lift and pour anything heavier. So milk cost her more than non-disabled people who could save money buying a family-sized supply. Over a lifetime on benefits that can add up to quite a tidy sum.
Then there was carton vs plastic. Cartons were more commonplace then, but more difficult to open (for some of us non-disabled people too!) Imagine opening a carton, and focus on the strange combination of fine motor skill and brute force you need to apply. Then imagine doing this with the spasms of cerebral palsy – with a poor sense of space and coordination. Intense concentration, then a ripped package and the contents all over the place.
But no point in crying over spilt milk. Jenny would plan her shop according to which shops kept plastic one-pint milk bottles. And which shops she could get to. And which shops she could get into with her wheelchair. Surprising really, that she found time for much else.