Towards the end of the Second World War, a bomb fell on a Birmingham sweet factory and sent molten toffee flowing into the streets. When morning came, people did not know what to make of the substance hardening in the gutters. It was a few minutes before they noticed the smell of burning sugar, and understood the miracle, this child’s fantasy crystallised by the bomb.
Two children in pyjamas crouched to lick the surface of the slick. But, like all the war’s wonders, there was something amiss. The toffee was explosives-tainted, metallic, stuck with grit from the road. When the men followed the stream into the factory, they found a sixteen-year-old factory hand, dead, with his mouth and nostrils full of syrup.
They cracked free the body and lay it in the street, in front of a house that had taken a hit. Inside the house a clock could be seen on an upstairs mantelpiece, lightly dusted, but otherwise undamaged. As they covered the face of the sugar-coated boy, the clock struck seven with perfect timing.