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Why I cry over milk

This week, I fear that I may have allowed my colleagues to see a little bit too much of my neurotic side. I have a deep and pathological hatred of milk.

Yes, that creamy white stuff you have just poured into your coffee. I realise it's hardly the devil's work, but - let us be honest here - it comes out of a cow's insides.

It is simply an instinct I have always held strongly, and so far, I have coped with it. I have flirted, somewhat unsuccessfully, with the alternatives (soya milk: makes hot drinks lumpy; rice milk: the concept is too strange), but feel I am in genuinely safe hands when my coffee is black, and my morning muesli has nothing more than water on it.

Therefore, our local supermarket's recent "good" deed of donating daily cartons of whole milk to each pupil has presented me with a living nightmare.

When it was first announced in staff briefing, I'm sure my abnormal reaction (a series of panicky questions such as Will it be in sealed containers? Will we actually see the milk as it comes through the straws? Will it make the classroom smell of sour milk?) maybe reduced my chances of being taken seriously for that extra teaching and learning responsibility point.

The real test, of course, is the painful stretch of time before morning break when cartons are handed round and gleefully consumed by calcium-enriched pupils. Through clenched, calcium-deficient teeth and false smile, I encourage them: "Mmm... delicious. Drink up children." And each time a child is careless with their straw and allows some of the offensive liquid to drip, I have to suppress the urge to leap across the tables Arnold Schwarzenegger-style, while shouting "Noooooo!"

Milk, eh? A distinct cause of stress in the work-place... but somehow, I don't think my union has a policy on it

Louisa Leaman is a London teacher

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