Coppers

Tuffin’s salary was paid into his bank account every month. Every fourth Friday afternoon he would go to the bank and take out as much money as he could in penny coins. He would carry the coppers back to work in a strong leather bag and then, at the end of the day, he would take them home and decant them into the bath.

Every day, in the evening he would have his bath. The water made the coins quite shiny. He made them shinier still by stirring them round for several minutes so that they rubbed against each other. Those that were still dull he scrubbed with pumice. This made the bath cold and gritty, just how he liked it. He was ‘as clean as a new penny’ and smelled of metal.

For twenty years he shared his bath with the pennies. He liked to wiggle his feet into his heap until they disappeared. Sometimes he would pile a selection of the shiniest ones into towers to make a castle. Once he had collected enough coins, he would bury himself in them so only his head was sticking out. When he got out of the bath he admired the shape of his bottom cast in the coppers. Every bath time he felt like he was on holiday.

Over the years the amount of water he could fit in the bath grew less, until only a puddle spread across the bed of coins.

On the evening of one Wednesday, Tuffin was forced to acknowledge his bath was full and there was no room left for any more pennies. He went to bed dirty.

  • Next day Tuffin went to work as normal. At his desk he wrote a letter of resignation, which he left for his boss and then went home.
  • Even though it was not the fourth Friday, the next day Tuffin went to the bank and closed his account, taking the remaining balance in cash. Not in coppers though.
  • On Saturday he bought a car and a steel bucket. He used the bucket to empty the bath of pennies and fill the boot of his car.
  • On Sunday he drove his car to Deal and emptied his coppers onto the shingle beach. During the day he built a magnificent castle using every penny.
  • In the evening he removed his trousers and buried his legs into the shingle, smiled and bathed in the cold seawater. Just how he liked it.
  • Afterwards he admired the shape of his bottom cast in the shingle. He was ‘clean as a whistle’ and smelled of the sea.

Then he went home.
That night the sea washed his castle away.
The sea still stirs and shines his pennies. Now they are the size of sixpences.