The Human Money Box

Yesterday, I wrote of a whimsical journey back in time, courtesy of discoveries made during a tidy of my mother’s garage.

Not only did this unearthing of books and effects from my childhood take me back to my youth, it also exposed me to giant spiders, a hitherto unexplored toolbox that once belonged to my granddad, and a huge tub of chicken manure pellets.

God only knows how long this industrial size container, with it’s contents sourced from the collective bottoms of domestic fowl, had stood in the corner of their garage. My late dad had purchased the chicken poo as soil nutrition for his garden borders sometime after 1989 (when they moved into the house), but I’m unable to pinpoint exactly when……. Detail that I’m not inquisitive enough to acquire by having the poultry excrement carbon dated. Even if that is possible!

Upon opening the tub, which had laid clandestinely under my dad’s tool box, I had the conundrum of whether to scatter it’s contents into my mum’s borders, or just bin the pellets. After re-assuring myself chicken faeces surely won’t have a ‘best before date’,  I plumped for scattering it onto the front and back garden soil.

Having spent the summer attempting to put a stop to local cats defecating in my parent’s gardens, the irony of me ending the horticultural season by filling the same area with chicken shit wasn’t lost on me.

I now wait with bated breath to see if my theory that fowl faeces doesn’t have a ‘best before date’ bears fruit…… Or at least flowers.

Knowing my luck the punt will backfire badly, meaning when I next visit chez Strachan senior all the plants (which I’ve loving cared for since March) will have withered and died.

If truth be told, while hoeing the chicken pellets into the soil, I started having misgivings whether my choice not to waste them was the right decision. However, at that point it was too late; particularly as the only regression option would be to manually pick up hundreds of rice grain sized pellets……. A choice I’d clearly no intention of adopting.

Opening my granddad’s toolbox was quite a disappointment. On releasing the catch to gain access to this large blue metallic vessel, my aspirations were to witness numerous tools from times of yore. Pre-mass steel production utensils, such as chisels, hammers and bradawls crafted from iron. Makeshift tools that not only elongated the workman’s task, but also disintegrated into a pile of rust at the first sign of a raincloud.

My hopes of confronting old school utensils were dashed when, upon accessing the metal box, it’s top compartment bore numerous different sized stainless steel spanners. I’m unsure what the collective noun for a congregation of spanners is (although I’m pretty sure it isn’t a congregation). however, what my eyes were currently witnessing was it.

Being a mischievous character, if my grandfather was still with us, he’d no doubt spin me some yarn the spanners were used to tighten Orson Wells bicycle seat. Or perhaps that they were formerly owned by Lord Harewood’s plumber in the 1960’s.

As kids, granddad Jack would tease my brother Ian and I relentlessly. One trick that springs to mind was when (with slight of hand) he’d pretended to pull coins from our ear. This fascinated our Ian who’d spend ages as a young boy attempting to mimic our forefather’s stunt.


Unfortunately for our kid, he never quite perfected it, meaning regular A&E trips to have coins removed from his ear. In fact, at one point Ian was no more than a human money box; on one occasion managing to retrieve enough money from his lugs to buy a new Leeds United shirt.

My bro was forced to stop this shortly afterwards, the consequence of our parents decision to stop his pocket money. They, not unreasonably, mooted that by starving our kid of the ear bound coinage he’d not be able to undertake this potentially harmful pastime.

This strategy backfired on my mum and dad, though, as bereft of coins our Ian returned to his other hobby of smashing house ornaments during games of indoor football. A pastime that cost them far more financially than the outlay of his weekly pocket money.

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