I know I have some somewhere, I’ve kept them specifically for the day when I might need one and today is the day when I needed two! Introduced with decimalisation in the early 70s, the diminutive half penny coin was inevitably doomed to extinction almost as soon as it was minted. It struggled along for thirteen years but was finally withdrawn in 1984. Back in the late 70s I was doing a lot of plumbing work on our large house in Southerndown and soon discovered that the half penny coin made a suitable substitute for a 15mm blanking disc; a little PTFE tape wrapped around and it does the perfect job. Naturally I hoarded a number of these coins should I ever be in a situation again when I needed a blanking disc, except, I can’t remember where I’ve put them!
There was nothing for it, couldn’t waste any more time looking, off to the nearest DIY superstore to find some of the real thing. First store had nothing suitable so drove the short distance to the next where I was able to acquire what I needed without too much hassle. Whilst there I also looked for a 22mm blanking end, but was rather irritated to see they were packed in twos; I don’t need two, will never ever have a need to use the second one – leave it on the shelf then, I’ll improvise! Whilst there I somehow got into a lengthy discussion about central heating, the couple obviously mistook me for a tradesman as I was rather filthily dressed.
It was chucking it down when I left the store and I scurried back to the car past the fast-food wagon and immediately I was transported to another dimension, it was like a time-machine had whisked me back thirty or more years to a past life in another era. It was that smell, a heady mix of frying chips, onions and the sweet aroma of doughnuts, reminded me instantly of my many years spent on the rally fields with my vintage machinery. All it needed to complete the sensation was the slap of a drive belt on a dynamo, the slight chuff of the steam engine and the strident sound of a fairground organ and the illusion would have been complete, perhaps a bit of mud as well would have added the final touch!