Imagine the scene:
An Olde Sweet Shoppe in the mid 1930s, a guy in an apron behind the counter, and row upon row of big jars of sweets from humbugs to sherbet, toffees to jelly babies, and of course gobstoppers, liquorice and chews.
Add to that a small group of little boys aged around 7, my Dad being one.
The lads all liked bullseyes which were kept in a jar on the top shelf, so this meant the use of a ladder to retrieve them. In my Dad’s day, these were black and white balls of hard candy that lasted for hours (in my childhood, they were red and white and tasted of cloves).
The first lad asked for a ‘pennuf of bullseyes’ and the shop owner climbed the ladder, brought down the jar, weighed out a penny’s worth (we’re talking old £SD here), then put the jar back on the shelf.
The second boy asked for a ‘pennuf of bullseyes’, so the shop owner repeated the process, climbed the ladder, brought down the jar, weighed out the sweets, and put the jar back.
The third boy also asked for a ‘pennuf of bullseyes’, so having gone through the motions but not yet put the jar back on the shelf, he said to my Dad who was next in line
‘I suppose you want a pennuf of bullseyes too,’ to which my Dad replied No and shook his head.
The jar was replaced on the top shelf, and climbing down the ladder, the owner said
‘OK son, what would you like then?’
My Dad replied ‘I haven’t got a penny, so I can only have a ha’puf’.