Monday, 23 December 2013

In need of being cheered up? Off to your local butcher's shop then!

A butcher's shop - many things have changed - but not the humour!
I am blessed with 4 really good butcher shops within quarter of an hour from where I live. I always wanted to be a butcher when I was a nipper. I used to happily join my mother when she was going to “Baxters the Butchers”, based in an old, leaning black and white building in Upton-upon-Severn, my home village in Worcestershire.

As we pushed through the multi-coloured ribbons in the doorway and entered the shop with its floor covered with sawdust, I usually felt a small buzz of excitement as the place was always crowded with locals that I knew or recognised, chatting and laughing - it was such a happy place!

It did not matter to me which butcher served us as I liked them all and the greeting was always the same anyway! “Aahaa, I spy Master Peter if I'm not mistaken and you will be wanting one of our delicious lollipops no doubt!” A large Kilner jar on the counter held a range of different coloured sugary balls on a short stick – orange ones were my favourite.

As I sucked on my treat, my mother would buy the Sunday joint and other bits and pieces. There was always a “special” which would be announced in a rather hushed tone as though it was not being offered to all customers, only the favoured ones. My mother invariably fell for this ploy and the butcher would then go out the back of the shop to get the “special” joint, nothing on show in the cabinets could possibly be good enough for such a valued client! As mum paid the bill, I would be given an oddly shaped plastic bag with “a few bones for those dogs of yours”.

Meanwhile someone in the shop would be telling a story or a joke, often at another local character’s expense. There was always plenty of banter in Baxters, gossip too, which made the shopping experience here so different to all the other shops in the village. For me, butcher shops and laughter somehow go together and it was this that made me think that I wanted to become a butcher when I grew up.

I have been reminded of all of this as I popped into one of my local Butchers today to collect various Christmas goodies, only to be greeted with - yes you have guessed it - gales of laughter and the hum of excited chat. Despite the shop being packed, there was time for a story:

“My father was a butcher too and the shop was attached to our home. One day when I came home from school, there was a man in our front room who was wearing a suit.  I was told to behave as it was a health and safety inspector. I went upstairs to go to the loo, only to find an enormous dead pig in the bath! I ran back downstairs and asked why there was a pig in the bath, whereupon my mother clipped me around the ear and told me not to talk about granny like that!!”  
My love of butcher shops remains undiminished.


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