Butcher Boy ( Part 12, New Boys)
Micky, like me, had been with Roy since he left school at 16. He was a local lad and lived just 100 yards from the shop.
In the shop there was always banter, normally good humoured and we were always taking the piss out of each other. There were constant egg fights, which normally ended up with me getting the worse of it, or we'd lock each other in the chiller or freezer and then turn out the lights ( very scary).
But Micky could be very moody as well, if he had a row with this girlfriend, which he did frequently, he could be in a mood all day. No amount of banter or jokes could knock it out of him.
Micky had been spending a couple of days a week over at the Plaistow shop until Roy was confident that the staff there could be trusted. The Plaistow shop was always busy, the deli counter was very popular in the area as was the grocery side which Roy had now grown into a nice bit of business. A lot of the knocked off stuff Roy could sell through the Plaistow shop. Tea, coffee, sugar, baked beans, even eggs, Roy was getting from his network of delivery drivers and all were being sold in the shop.
Micky worked at the Plaistow shop for about 6 months before returning to East Ham full time. Roy had got to know the staff better during that time and made Ginger Pete the new shop Manager ( no prizes for guessing how he got his name!).
So Micky was back, it was just like old times " The three Amigos".
While Micky had been away, Roy had started a part timer. he was an old retired Butcher who lived locally. He came in 2 or 3 times a week between midday until closing.
Now because Micky had been used to being in charge over at Plaistow he returned to the shop a different person. He was constantly arguing with Roy over decisions involving the shop. they would argue about the window display, orders, pricing, basically everything! To be honest he had become a pain in the arse!
There was now an atmosphere in the shop that wasn't healthy, then suddenly it all kicked off. Roy asked Micky to do something, Micky ignored him, Roy asked him again and Micky just walked away. There was suddenly a lot of shouting and swearing, Micky tore off his white coat and said he was leaving and not coming back. Roy said good riddance and that was that!
True to his word, Micky never stepped foot in the shop again. He left in September 1975 with the sound of "Sailing" by Rod Stewart playing on the radio.
So now it was just me, Roy and the old part timer. Christmas was just around the corner and we needed to get some staff in quickly. Roy got one of the Butchers from the Plaistow shop to come over full time and then asked me to find us a new "Saturday Boy". It was like a promotion, I was now the number two in the shop and would be left to run things whislt Roy was out doing his skullduggery!
Instead of taking on one Saturday Boy I took on two! Mickys younger brother, Fred, came in after school to help clear up, but couldn't do Saturdays due to being one of the best footballers of his age in the area and played for a number of teams at weekends. The "official" Saturday Boy was David Bragg ( younger brother of the singer Billy Bragg), Billy and I were best mates at school. They were both 15.
We became a well oiled machine, basically Roy would be around early in the mornings to help with preperation, then about 11am he would be out and about. I would be left to run the shop until he came back later in the day. The other Butcher would cut and serve during the day, part timer came in around midday for a few hours and then Fred would turn up around 4pm to help clear up.
This also meant that it was me who dealt with any deals that turned up during the day. Roy always made sure there was a stash of cash in the shop so that I could buy anything that came in. A lot of the delivery drivers never met Roy, they would come in and just assume that I was "The Butcher" because it was me that said yes and agreed a price for what they had. I had become a younger version of Roy!
I was still only 17, but now had responsibility for running a small business on a day to day basis. I was earning terrific money from the different deals that we had going on, I very rarely touched my wages and had started to put a bit away every week for the future. I was going out every night of the week, either with Roy to the dogs or to clubs in the area. Got a cab everywhere and was always the first one up the bar buying the drinks. Life was good very good!
Surely this could last forever?