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04 April 2011 @ 08:46 am
What colour are you?  

    I remember still its rubbery texture and its regular transferral, with a flick of the tongue, from one cheek pouch to the other. It was still installed when I returned home from school. My mother asked what I had in my mouth and I told her, “Meat”, more accurately it was a lump of gristle that had been served up in a stew some four hours previously in the school dining hall. She asked why I was still chewing it, I said it was too big to swallow and I knew it was wrong to spit out my food.

   Schools are characterised by their rules, most of which suited a conformist as slavish as I. I remember one rule in particular, or perhaps it was a regulation or a procedure, that was in operation at the infant school where I chewed gristle, back in the early 1960s. Its implementation caused the poorest children to have differently coloured dinner tickets. To wit; a white ticket meant that your mid-day meal was free and that your father was probably out of work, a blue ticket meant that your parents were paying the standard fee (sixpence, I think). The fact that my father worked in a factory meant that I was privileged to have a blue ticket, employment rates were high at the time and those with white tickets were in the minority.

   I wonder now who came up with the idea of colour-coding these scraps of paper, a mundane form of apartheid that must have evolved somewhere along the chain of command that laboriously translated an altruistic notion into a diktat that stigmatised the innocent.
Benbenicek on April 5th, 2011 07:04 am (UTC)
Bureaucratic redistributive socialism always runs up against this problem; that the very act of redistributing socially reinforces the very class divisions it is supposed to cure.
pomposapomposa on April 5th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
The effect is particularly invidious when the victims are children.
karinmollberg (Mollberg is a C.M. Bellman quote): Three Apeskarinmollberg on April 5th, 2011 10:01 am (UTC)
Some Animals Are Better Animals
Wonder why your recollection of engrish school food and that picture with the way the matrons look at their bunch of well-behaved minors at their mercy makes me think of a certain Punch illustration to Dickens´ "Oliver Asking For More"?

In Sweden,
in my own schooldays in the late 1960s and 1970s, food and books were for free and everyone. I ate it all (especially Hugo´s Les Miserables) with great delight and am sure my parents were happy to pay taxes for that particular part of immigrant family life back when.

In the GDR my parents had fled from, things of course were for free partaking by everyone. In case Things existed, after the better animals had eaten their privileged share. It was just that the kids got their ordained food depending on whether they lived close to the sources as in the countryside with the possibility to produce a little something on the side for personal, family consumption or had the bad luck of being coalminer´s children in Bautzen who only had access to whatever was left over after Russia and the black market ruled by capitalist currencies had swallowed most edibles available.

One has to be very careful at one´s choice of parents when opting to be born.
pomposapomposa on April 5th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Some Animals Are Better Animals
Your parents survived awful times. My own childhood was a comfortable one, during it my father was never out of work. As you say, luck of the draw.