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Pineapple

When I was growing up I’d never seen a real pineapple. Such fruit came in a tin, and was a favourite in our house as , in those long ago days of sugar rationing , because it was  for some reason  usually available in our area. We kept hens and so my father would barter some spare eggs for the delicious tinned fruit and some ham for salad. The pineapple cubes would be eaten with great enjoyment during Sunday tea, with evaporated milk poured on top.


When I was in senior school the sweet shop on the corner would be open before school and often attracted my few pennies.  I didn’t get much pocket money, but you could get a lot of sweets for a few pence. They had old fashioned jars of sweets on high shelves - pineapple cubes, humbugs and Everton mints, aniseed balls, coconut mushrooms, acid drops, jelly babies, dolly mixtures, liquorice torpedoes, cough drops and a strong flavoured variety for the very brave called winter mixture. 

The shop keeper must have been up and down his step ladder all day long; bringing down the heavy jars, weighing the sweets on bright brass scales and then placing them  in little conical blags with the tops screwed tight.  Then he would climb up the steps again, replacing the huge jars in their place.  

I’ve probably tried them all in my time. I remember in particular buying aniseed balls. I loved the flavour and the little reddish brown balls were really hard so they lasted for ages. Then one day I ate an aniseed ball in my religious education class. The teacher was quite short sighted and so I sat near the back and felt quite safe. Then Mr Jones sniffed and sniffed again. Next moment he was out of his seat and advancing down the aisle. He came to a halt next to my desk and held out his hand. ‘Aniseed balls if I’m not mistaken’. Astonished I offered him the open bag . He took one and then reached out for the bag and looked inside. ‘ Just about enough for one each I think.’ The bag went right round the room before it came back to me – one left.

That episode didn’t cure me of eating sweets in class, but the next time I chose something that I could eat without it having such a distinctive smell.  Pineapple cubes were a great favourite as I could put one in my mouth before going into class and then suck it for the rest of the lesson. I don’t remember getting caught again.

What sweets do you eat? Do you prefer chocolate or hard chewy sweets? Toffees or fruit flavours? Perhaps you like mints?   My grandfather always had a few mints in his pockets for me to find, and my whole family like hard gums so there are always some in the car glove compartment for long journeys.

Nowadays, if you go to some shops, especially the larger ones, all the sweets are in plastic packs, but just a few still have the jars and old fashioned scales, scoops and bags  - and if you are really lucky  the shop keeper will add an extra sweet after the scales have gone down – which is a very good reason for choosing pineapple cubes – they are so big that you get quite a lot for free.