I listened to Rich Lakin reading one of his poems on his blog yesterday. It was about ‘Word Tins’. You can check it out here.
My reply to him was that I never had word tins, but I did have a tin that I kept my treasures in as a child. He suggested I should write about my tin.
Most people smoked when I was young, including my mum and dad. Dad rolled his own cigarettes, favouring a popular tobacco called Old Holborn, which is still sold here. To keep the tobacco fresh, he would keep it in the tin that it came in, a tin emblazoned with the distintive logo of the brand.
By the time I was given my tin, it was old and well-used, a lot like the one in the photo above.
The first things I kept in that tin were some foreign coins. Some were from India, a legacy of my dad’s army service during WW2. I also had a coin with a hole punched in the centre, which I think was from somewhere in Asia. (Probably Japan) I was sure that those unusual coins would be worth a great deal one day.
Next to go into my treasure hoard was a medal. It was in the shape of a star, and was given to me by one of the family friends who were always known as ‘uncle’, though they were not related. Sixty-two years later, I cannot be sure, but I think it was a Burma Star. It certainly looked like one, as I recall. Here is a photo of one.
Something else I expected to be incredibly valuable when I was older. Hard to believe that they now sell online for around £20. Given what they went through to get one, that doesn’t seem right.
The coins and medal were the only occupants of the old tin for at least a year. Then for some reason I became interested in elastic bands, especially coloured ones. Very soon I had a dozen or more stored in the tin. One very light blue one was a favourite, until I acquired a bright yellow one from somewhere and that went to the top in my estimation. I used one of them -a red one- to secure the tin after that, as the lid was becoming loose.
A day at the beach provided the final addition to the tin, when I was around eight years old. On a stony beach somewhere in Kent, I found a beach pebble that looked like a small pig in profile. At first I presumed someone had carved it into that shape and dropped it, but my mum was sure that all those years on the beach had formed the shape by the pebble constantly being moved by the sea. Either way, it was certainly a treasure, so the pig-stone went into the tin, which was now almost full.
Resecured with the red elastic band, I put it in my small hand-made wardrobe, and there it stayed. I would occasionally open the tin, feel the smooth lines of the pig-stone, and hold the medal to my chest as if I had won it. When the red elastic band finally perished, the tin went into a drawer under my socks.
Between 1967 and 1976, I moved house three times. During one or other of those moves, my treasure tin disappeared.
I just hope whoever found it valued its contents as much as I did as a child.