When I was a little girl I had a fascination with milkshakes. Perhaps this began at primary school, when every Friday without fail, we’d be served up lurid pink strawberry milk in a jug as part of our school dinners. I was the monitor for my table and I positively reveled in the responsibility bestowed upon me to play Mother Hen to six younger children, careful not to spill a trail of sticky berries across the floor, or their school uniforms.
Oh, it was a very important job you know, for even the daughter of one Michael Eavis was under my charge. Glastonbury Festival has undoubtedly become all the more successful because of my attention to detail!
It was just a shame that I didn’t quite manage to transfer my milkshake handling skills to other countries. When I look back at all the lovely holidays Mum and Dad took us on as kids; Majorca, Malta, Kos, Tenerife, it is always with a pang of shame at The Evening Milkshake Scandal. My sister and I – eyes bigger than our bellies – would choose a milkshake to go with our meals… quite regardless of the fact said milkshakes were more like a dessert than a drink. And then we’d promptly tip them all over the intricately embroidered table cloth, us, and, usually, our parents as well. Another round of shakes later and Mum and dad would be cursing because we’d done it all over again.
Parenting Hack #1: NEVER and I mean EVER give your child a milkshake in a public place… unless you wish to be humiliated.
Remember: there was no social media in the late 80s, there is now.
But none of this quelled my own love for a good milkshake. I remember as a child I’d dream up the wackiest of flavours. Anything to add some spice to the usual suspect strawberry, chocolate and vanilla:
–Frosties, Weetabix, Special K and Coco Pops… made from the dregs of milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl
-Pear or apple or kiwi… or all three mixed together, just because you can never get those anywhere.
-Digestive Biscuit flavour… well, it would certainly liven that excuse for a “treat” up.
-Brown sugar flavour… can you imagine how good that would taste?
-Chocolate Eclair flavour… never mind the slight problem of sucking up choux pastry through a straw.
Heston Blumenthal eat your heart out. I was going to open up the hippest milkshake parlour on the planet. Probably in Paignton or Weymouth or Weston-Super-Mare.
Funnily enough, not so long ago in Gloucestershire, bespoke milkshake parlours that kind of acted on this whim, were all the rage when I started dating my now husband. We’d visit the local one in Cheltenham every weekend and devour Aero shakes, Maltesers shakes, Kitkat shakes and even Jaffa Cake shakes (the latter was amazing!) And lo and behold, there on the menu was my wild card: the Weetabix shake. I could barely stop shaking myself, overcome with excitement.
But back briefly to my childhood…
Because I nearly forgot the summer holidays, when my auntie and uncle used to look after us while Mum and Dad were at work. A walk in the woods with the dog… followed by a chocolate Penguin biscuit and the hypnotic elixir that was Crusha‘s raspberry… or pineapple, if we were even luckier. All served up with full fat milk in a tall frosted glass in the garden. Deelish. Not so much for Mum when the E numbers had their way with us later, but hey, that’s just a minor kink.
So what happened to our love for a good milkshake? The Clean Eating brigade for one, as well as the world’s ever-collective and growing range of allergies. And I guess we also dress them up to sound ‘healthy’ nowadays by dubbing them ‘smoothies’.
Truly though, you cannot beat a good shake. Maybe we can’t drink them every day, but just like a really good piece of cake, life is definitely the better for having milkshake. Every American diner will attest to that. In fact, the nostalgic excitement of drinking one needn’t be something relegated to childhood. Plus (and here’s the best part) forget the calories and fat, milkshakes make you feel younger, transforming you with moments into a kid. And retaining our youth, as we all know, is completely down to our self-perception.
What more permission do you need? Go on, shake it up!