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“The Rusty Nail” by Rik Lonsdale

‘What have you found?’ Jeanette’s words were whipped away by the wind and never reached her husband’s ears. She caught up with Mark, crouching on the shingle, examining his latest find.

‘What is it?’ she said, a little breathless.

‘It’s only a big old rusty nail. I feel like someone out of “The Detectorists”, never getting to do the Dance of Gold.’

Jeanette laughed. Beachcombing was a common pastime since buying their cottage by the sea, and although they were not equipped with metal detectors, they had sharp eyes. They had never found anything of value, and now they had decided to sell the cottage they hoped for a ‘special’ find on what would be one of their last trips to the beach.

‘At least you’ve found something,’ said Jeanette, as the wind and spray blew fiercely.

‘And something I can easily carry home,’ said Mark, slipping the nail into his pocket, and promptly forgetting it. They turned back to the cottage where their son, David, would be making coffee.

‘You know you don’t need to do this,’ said David, helping them off with their coats.

‘We’ve talked it over many times, David, it’s what we want to do. We’ve had some good years here, but now we want to help as much as we can. So we’ll sell the cottage. It’s simple.’

And it would help, David didn’t deny that. Since the tragedy that left David bringing up twin infant sons alone, life had become financially difficult. Industrial Archaeology, David’s passion and recent employment, did not make for a lavish lifestyle.

‘Well thanks both of you, I really don’t know what to say. I think I need a walk. Can you watch the twins for me?’

‘It’s just started raining look, borrow your dad’s coat.’

‘I’m really going to miss this old place,’ said Jeanette after David had left. ‘I was really looking forward to holidays here with the twins, they would love it when they’re older.’

‘I know, but we’re doing the right thing. David needs the money now.’

The door pushed open and the wind and rain blew in David, soaking wet and holding the rusty nail in his hand. ‘What’s this Dad? Where did you get it?’

‘Just a rusty old nail I found on the beach, I’d forgotten about it.’

‘But look here, dad.’ On the head of the nail were the corroded remnants of letters and numbers.

‘This isn’t a nail dad, it’s a rivet! You can just make out an R, and a T, and a 4. I think this is a 401 rivet. They were used on the Titanic.’

Later the rusty nail went to auction. It had been dated and authenticated as being part of the Titanic itself. Speculation suggested it might have been one of the ‘faulty’ rivets that caused the ship to sink. The hammer fell at £650,000.

That evening, back at the cottage, they all performed the ‘Dance of Gold’ passing the twins between them.


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