Butcher Boy ( Extra Bits)
When I wrote Butcher Boy earlier this year there were a few chapters that I didn't post. Here is one of them. It's a true story but it could also be an episode of "Only Fools and Horses!"
I mentioned in the previous chapter about Roy buying his turkeys from a farm in Norfolk, they were delivered a week before Christmas, but not by the farmer. They were always delivered by his son. The farmer didn’t drive a car. He drove tractors and other farm equipment but didn’t have a full licence for the road. He also didn’t trust his son!
So he asked Roy if he could come to the farm a few weeks before and pay for the Turkeys. Roy had done business with him for the past few years and trusted the old bastard enough to say yes.
He asked me if I wanted to come along for the ride. We would go on a Sunday and be gone for most of the day. I thought it would be a great adventure; that turned out to be an understatement!
The drive to Norfolk was slow, we went in Roy’s Van and to be honest it wasn’t the quickest thing on the road. It took us about four hours to get there!
The farmer was pleased to see Roy and gave us some lunch; it consisted of cheese, bread, onion, cold turkey (of course) and a bottle of beer each. I loved it. He showed us around the farm, very proud of his Turkeys, Roy gave him his money. We left just after midday.
After about an hour’s drive on the way back, Roy looked across at me and said “Fancy another beer?”
Silly question really, what does every fourteen year old boy want, yes, BEER!
He pulled into a large car park just off of one of the small B roads that we had been travelling along. The sign above the pub door said “Lamb and Cutlass”.
It was very much a local pub, full of character, oldie wordy, lots of framed pictures on the wall, roaring fire going right in the middle of the one bar, low ceilings (Roy had to duck as he went in). Of course back then every pub you went into was full of smoke, this was no exception, you could hardly see the bar from the door, it was thick with cigarette smoke. He ordered two pints of bitter; the landlord gave him a look and then pointed to me.
“He’s not old enough!”
Roy leaned over to the landlord and said quietly.
“Sorry mate, he’s my son, he’s seventeen, eighteen next week to be honest, I know he looks a bit younger than that but he’s with me and he’s only having the one!”
The landlord smiled at me and went away and poured two pints.
I couldn’t help thinking that Roy’s charm had done it again.
We sat at the bar, quietly supping out beer when Roy looked at me and then over to the roaring fire.
“Now THAT is a fucking chair!”
He was looking at a big leather chesterfield fireside chair. Black leather, brass tacks, it really was a thing of beauty”
“Yeh it’s nice Roy, really lovely, bit big though”
“Rubbish, that would look great in the flat, Sue would love it, it’s fucking quality is that”
“Yeh, it’s nice Roy!”
I had no idea at this stage how Roy’s mind worked, but I was about to find out.
Roy leaned over and whispered.
“I’m going to the gents, when I come back make out your having chest pains and fall to the floor!”
“Go down, like you’re having a heart attack or something as soon as I come out the gents!”
“No, just do it, I’ll make it worth your while”
Roy got up and walked over to the gents. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, was it a wind up or was he serious?
But always thinking of making a few bob I remembered the words “Make it worth your while”.
I saw Roy come out of the gents, with a theatrical style I suddenly put both hands to my heart, stood up and started to cry out, I then fell to the floor, clutching my chest.
The landlord ran from behind the bar and knelt down beside me.
“You OK son, what’s the matter, is it a fit?”
A few of the locals gathered round as well.
“What’s the matter with the kid?” someone shouted.
Roy was now making his way through the crowd.
“Let me through, let me through, it’s the smoke, he’s got weak lungs!”
Roy knelt down beside me and gave me a wink.
“Let’s get him outside and get him some fresh air, it’s too smokey in here, his lungs can’t cope”
Roy and the landlord got me up and helped me out of the pub into the car park. They sat me on the wall outside. Roy went quickly back into the pub and came out carrying the big chesterfield armchair.
“Here son sit on this, take your time, get your breath back, that ok guvnor?”
The landlord was very apologetic.
“Of course, make him comfortable, does he need a doctor or something?”
“No, just a bit of fresh air for a few minutes and he’ll be fine. He was born with a dodgy left lung, so he gasps for air sometimes especially when it’s a smokey atmosphere”
The landlord looked mortified.
“I’m sorry son, we get used to it, but I can understand you being affected by it, let me get you both a couple of pints”
The landlord went back in the pub along with the locals. Now it was only me and Roy outside, and of course THE CHAIR!
I looked at Roy, I couldn’t believe what he had just done, it was sheer brilliance.
“You crafty bastard”
Roy laughed and then went quiet again as the landlord returned with two pints of bitter.
“On the house, take your time, get your breath back!”
“Thank you” I whispered in shallow breath.
We downed the pints quickly. Roy walked over to the other side of the car park and slowly drove the van and parked it next to me. Just as he did so the landlord walked back out of the pub. Roy got out of the van and very calmly spoke to the landlord.
“Thought I’d get the Van as close to him as possible, he’s still a bit weak, not sure his legs would carry him all the way across the car park, they say a brandy is good for shock, any chance?”
“Of course, let me get you two brandies”
Roy had done it again; he really did have more front than Brighton!
Two minutes later we were sipping large brandies outside the pub.
Then very slowly and with no sense of urgency, we both stood up, I opened the back doors of the van, Roy picked up the chair and carefully placed it in the van. We both got in the front and Roy drove off.
We drove another hour before any of us spoke. I started laughing and then Roy started as well.
“Nice chair Roy, Sue’s gonna love it”
“Yep and two nice brandy glasses as well!”
The bastard had also nicked the two large brandy glasses.
We got back to the shop later that day, Roy gave me twenty quid. I walked home feeling like I’d just stolen the crown jewels and got away with it.
The next morning I was at the shop at 07.00am. Roy was already working on the window display.
“Did she like the chair?” I inquired.
“Fucking hates it, says it’s too big for the room, said I’ve got to get rid of it so her Dad’s coming round later to take it back to their house!”
I burst out laughing, in fact we both laughed about it for the rest of the day!