Butcher Boy ( Part 14, Christmas 1975)
Christmas 1975 would prove to be our busiest yet, although Roy had been concentrating on his "other activities", he realised that this was his bread and butter. Christmas was a time when he would make serious money. No point in taking his eye off the ball, if, god forbid, everything fell apart, he would still make a living from Butchery.
He had a bit of a shock when he tried to make his normal Turkey order with the Norfolk farmer. He had sold up and his farm was being turned into a new Golf course. This was a blow, Roy had been going there for a few years now and had to quickly find another supplier. He found one in Dunmow in Essex. The only problem was this one didn't deliver, we would have to collect them ourselves. We agreed to pick them up 10 days before Christmas Eve.
Now Micky was no longer around it would be me and Roy that went to collect them. We needed about 250 this year.
We arrived at the farm around 09.00am on a cold, wet, frosty Sunday morning. It looked like a bomb site! There was old farm machinery everywhere, there must have been 10 dogs running wild and just as many cats. The whole place smelt of Dog shit and poultry.
Reg the farmer met us and began to tell us where to go for the Turkeys. Dunmow wasn't a million miles away from East London, but he might as well have been speaking Chinese! He looked like a tramp and his accent was like something out of the film "Deliverance".
We got the jist and followed him to a barn about 200 yards away. He walked in front and we followed him in the Transit Van. It was like a scene from the Pied Piper, animals everywhere all following this strange man.
When we entered the barn as you would expect it stunk. It was full of dead Turkeys that had been killed the day before and then hung up by their feet. Some had been plucked but the majority hadn't. Roy had agreed with old Reg that we would pay by the pound for our Turkeys. So roughly 250 at an average of 12lb per bird was around 3 tonne. This was more that the Transit was legally able to take but Roy was confident that if we took it slowly on the ride home we would be ok.
Suddenly to both our amazement, old Reg walked off. He said something about helping ourselves and let him know when we had finished. Surely he wasn't trusting me and Roy to weigh and count our own Turkeys? But this is exactly what was to happen. In the barn was an old table and next to it were some big scales. We pulled the Transit up to the scales and just started throwing Turkeys in the back, sod weighing them and having to pay for them. When we got to 30 we stopped. Ok now to start counting and weighing!
When we got to 200 Turkeys, Roy said "OK, lets put a few more on for free". So we put on another 20. This meant we now had our 250, but only 200 had been weighed. The actual weight was 2600kgs. We decided that we should only pay for 2200kgs. We went and found old Reg and told him the total weight was 2200kgs and we paid him. He seemed happy enough.
What we actualy had was about 3 and half tonne of Turkeys. This was double the legal weight that the Transit should carry. Roy started her up and we crawled to the barn doors, second gear was about all she could manage. In the rear view mirror we suddenly saw Reg running towards us shouting for us to stop.
" Fuck it" said Roy " I think he's rumbled us!" We stopped the Van. Reg told us to stay where we were and not go any further. Then dissapeared back in the Barn.
"Fuck it Roy, what if he's gone to get his shotgun or something?, you know what these country people are like, he'll probarly shoot us and bury us in his field!"
Just then Reg came out of the barn, holding the two biggest Turkeys I had ever seen. They were about 30lb each.
" Theree go boys, one each. Merry Christmas"
"Fuck me thats all we need more fucking Turkeys" said Roy.
We waived him goodbye and said we'd see him next year. Now the problem was getting the Transit back to East London. We were going down the A12 at about 25 miles an hour in 3rd gear, praying that we'd make it. Smoke had started to appear from the bonnet and there was a grinding noise coming from the back wheels. Then our worst nightmare. Blue lights behind us. A Police car was flashing us to stop!
We pulled over and Roy got out and walked towards the Police Car. I sat there thinking the worst, then I heard the back doors open and voices raised and then laughing!
As I looked into my side mirror, I saw two Policeman walking away back to the Car each carrying a massive turkey. Roy had given them the Turkeys that old Reg had just given us. They got in their car and pulled up alongside us. " Ok Roy take it easy mate, drive slowly, good luck!"
I couldn't beleive it, was their nothing that this man couldn't get away with?
We drove slowly and it took us another 2 hours to get back to the shop. The poor Van had to be fitted with a new gearbox and back axel 2 weeks later. But we had got away with over a ton of Fresh Turkey.
It was as we thought, our busiest ever. Long hours, hard work, but great rewards.
What would 1976 bring?