There was surprise last week when an ice cream parlour announced its latest offering - a breast milk variety. We asked the distinguished elder statesman, Lord Creamer, who spent many years working at the Milk Marketing Board, to write a few words on the subject.
"When the Mumsnet organisation originally offered me the post of "Honourary Child-Feeding Advisor", I have to admit I was somewhat taken aback. Despite the many happy years I spent at the Milk Marketing Board in the 70 and 80s, I felt somewhat under-qualified for this particular undertaking.
But the fine, upstanding ladies at Mumset assured me the post was, as the title suggested, purely an honorary one. Their "mothers' council" required a male member who might, in their words, "lend an air of impartiality to an otherwise partisan organisation". They had apparently looked very closely at a number of other male members - chaps who'd taken it upon themselves to apply for the post - but none of them were "up to scratch" and were of perhaps "dubious motive and repute." After some breast-beating and various consultations with my good wife I said I would be delighted to take up their offer.
"So it is in my capacity as Honourary Advisor that I would now like to comment on the issues surrounding the introduction of breast-milk ice-cream.
"I do feel breasts - or, at least, I have a sense that breasts - are a feature of female anatomy that lend themselves to one, at a stretch two, well-defined functions. I believe it is not necessary for me to elaborate here on the precise nature of those functions. Suffice it to say that they are largely for the benefit of man - and woman - kind. I might add that it also ill-behoves any man - or indeed any woman - to confuse those functions, especially if they do so at the same time.
"Now when I learnt that a certain organisation, through the Mumsnet web, was about to offer the public a new breast-milk based product, I have to say I was initially just a touch intrigued. I even considered putting in an order for a couple of tubs - being open to new ideas as I am.
"On reflection, however, I am not so sure. As someone who has dedicated his life to high standards in food production, I have always had to consider not just the processing but also the sourcing of any product under consideration. Now this is straightforward enough in the case of most dairy products. If it derives from the udders of the sheep or the cow then it is deemed generally acceptable. But if it comes from the humble Tibetan yak, say, then far greater scrutiny is required. For it is not immediately apparent that the Yak is a suitable source for this nation's dairy products.
"It is with this in mind that I have looked long and hard at female breasts. As a rich source of nourishment for the developing infant, breasts have indeed proven themselves eminently useful. But I do not believe we should look at breasts - common though they may be - as something to be taken for granted, that is to say, as merely a tool of this country's food production. That can never be right, surely?
"And on International Women's Day of all days, should we not be contemplating what society still has to offer the fairer sex - by way of, say, equal pay - than what the fairer sex has to offer society? From the dawn of time, women have been viewed as a vehicle - and an extremely useful vehicle, I might add - of reproduction. But are we now, in the Twenty First Century, to start viewing them additionally as the vehicle of production? No, I really hope not.
"And anyway, would it not indeed be so much simpler for this "milk parlour" to deliver a "breast-milk flavoured ice cream?" That is something, I am sure, most ordinary men and women - myself included - would think about buying."