Occasionally, as a kid, I’d be given an extra sixpence pocket money to buy sweets; I believe the local dentist was in league with my nan and her sugar-loving sisters, who would supply the bonus money.
In the mid-60s there were more sweet shops along Balham High Road than there were traffic lights – this resulted in the whole of SW17 having high cholesterol, few teeth and an abnormally high ratio of road traffic accidents.
My sweet shop of choice was Nugent’s, run but a woman, seemingly 200-years-old (you think that as a kid and she was probably only 150).
Sixpence was almost too much to possess as this produced the dilemma of choice.
There were many items – Fruit Salads, Black Jacks, Shrimps (made from 200% sugar) – where you could get four for a penny. With my order only 16.7% complete, there was the executive decision to make as to whether you continued to build a glucose mountain in your hand – twenty-four pretend bananas would have had me climbing the walls – or did you plump for a 3d Jubbly?
I would spend an eternity in the shop doing mental arithmetic and wishing I’d bought a copy of Calculus for Idiots with me, an abacus or a slide-rule.
I think, looking back, I probably went the 24-shrimp route as I consequently needed several fillings before I was a teenager. Sadly, you don’t get four of anything for a 1d these days – which is why you never see a rich dentist!