We all had biscuit tins. You know the kind – the ones that were square and deep and had, originally, little individual compartments made of cardboard each with a type of sweet biscuit. There were ones with pink icing on, ones with a splodge of jam in a hole in the middle, ones with a coating of chocolate and ones that crumbled in your mouth with the taste of butter. And when the first layer was done and all the fingers were licked clean, there was another layer underneath and the fun could start all over again.
When the fun was done, another kind of game could begin.
Each child would beg, borrow and steal (no, never the last two – it was always about begging) jew-jaws. I don’t really know what that word means, but I know what it looked
like. It looked like a shiny, jangly, coloured magpie-heaven. It looked like the kind of treasure that any kid loves to have and to hold, from that day forth, all the way up until whenever they lost interest. Or puberty. Whichever came first.
We must have been about ten years old. We each took our biscuit tins, filled with treasure, to school with us. And then, at lunchtime, after all the batter and clang of eating, we brought them forth and compared them with each of the others.
I remember that we swapped our jew-jaws. If something in someone else’s tin struck our fancy, we would try to get it from them. Hopefully, something in our tin would beguile them as much as our coveted object beguiled us. Hopefully we could come to some kind of arrangement. And mostly we did. Mostly everything was settled to everyone’s satisfaction.
We didn’t hardly have any money, and what little we had was not taken to school, and never used to get hold of something we wanted from a biscuit tin, but we managed the swaps all the same. Whether we had some kind of idea of value built in, or whether we were born with a kind of business sense, or whether we just didn’t care about value and money and things like that; none of that seemed to matter.
We just loved the sparkle and wanted (and got) what our little hearts wanted. And it was all good.
It makes my heart swell now, to think about those biscuit tins and the precious things they contained. Makes me want to look in the attic and see what I can find there. See what innocence I can gather up qnd drape around the child-like fingers still living inside these older ones. Makes me smile just to think about it.
Ah – happy days.