Friday, 27 November 2009

Syrup tins

To go back to the syrup tins, although I am really not talking about tins just now. When the children were young, the Old Bat (or Young Bat as she was then) and I were less comfortably placed in the financial sense. We weren't poor, but we had to watch the shillings if not the pennies. With the children, we probably consumed more syrup then than we do now, so the YB bought the supermarket's own brand. This came not in a tin, but in a clear plastic container with a black screw-top lid. I suppose the contained measured about four inches in diameter (it was round) and about three inches in height. I found the empty containers most useful for storing screws, nails and other miscellaneous small items of hardware that I bought in fairly large quantities. I always seemed to need a few staples or whathaveyou, and these syrup containers (I can't call them jars or tins, so containers they will have to be) came in very handy for keeping them tidy. I screwed a row of the lids under a shelf in the garage so when I needed a one-inch number eight screw it was a simple matter to get hold of one. Other syrup containers could be kept on the shelf below, so all though I had a double height of them, I never had to move one to get at another.

The empty Lyle's tins were another matter. Those tins have a lid like one gets on a paint pot, one that has to be prised off with a screwdriver and has to be pressed down very firmly to make sure the tin is closed. One of these was handy for holding a ball of string. I punched a small hole in the lid, put the string in the tin and fed the end of the string through the hole before replacing the lid. With a few inches poking through, it was an easy job to cut off a length of string. This storage system had two advantages. First, the string didn't get tangled, and second, nobody could come along and start using the string from the wrong end. But those empty tins also had another use.

For more years than I care to remember, I was a leader in the Scouts. Every now and then we (other leaders and me) would arrange an incident hike in which the Scouts had to follow a set route between check points with some sort of activity to be done at each check point. it might involve first aid, or compass work. Or they might be given an empty syrup tin, a dixie, a bottle of water, a box of matches and a bundle of newspaper and told to make an explosive device. The idea was that they should light a fire, pour some of the water into the syrup tin and replace the lid fairly tightly. The remainder of the water would be poured into the dixie and the syrup tin placed in it. The water would then be brought to the boil and, after a while, the steam in the syrup tin would expand sufficiently to blow the lid off.

Happy days.

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