Butcher Boy ( Part 3, Back for More)
The following Saturday I was up at 06.00am and in the shop by 06.50. Roy and Micky were already there starting to put meat on display in the window.
The radio was on and Radio One was pumping out pop music, Roy and Micky were singing along as they were working. I couldn't believe that people could be that lively at that time in the morning, where did they get their energy from?
My first job, as always, was to put the kettle on and make tea. Then go over to the Bakers and get some rolls. Roys shop also had a cold meat counter and Micky sliced huge bits of ham on the meat slicer.It was only 07.30 and we were eating huge ham rolls and drinking large mugs of tea!
Roy and his wife Sue lived above the shop in a two bed flat. He had started at 06.00 that morning and Micky had got there around 06.30. The break lasted no more than 5 minutes when Roy suddenly said " Right, lets crack on, Micky, tell Joe what to do, if he gets it wrong I'll bollock you not him" then roared with laughter!
I was given the offal to put on display, 6 steel trays, each one had to be filled with different offal. Lambs liver, lambs hearts, lambs tongues, lamb kidneys, ox liver and pigs kidneys. Once these were filled, I had to put them in the right hand corner of the window. A simple job you may think, but Roy was a hard task master, if he wasn't happy he let you know,
"Look at the fucking state of that offal, it looks like a fucking abortion!"
I learnt very quickly that presentation was everything to Roy. His window display had to be perfect, there was no room for shoddy work.
I was shown how to use the mincer. It was a formidable machine, nowadays Health and Safety just wouldn't allow a boy of 14 to use such equipment. Roy gave give me cuts of meat in a huge plastic bowl ( turned out to be a babies bath!) and said " Ok mince that up".
Twice was always good and also add a bit of Ox heart to make it look nice and red. Roy made his own sausages and I was given the job of putting these onto different steel trays according to their flavour. There was Pork or spicy Pork.
Roy and Micky were doing the heavier stuff, Roy was hanging a whole pig in the window, high up. Micky was cutting up whole lambs on one of the blocks and taking off the legs and shoulders then hanging them in a line in the window. Roy walked into the fridge and came out with a piece of beef that was as tall as me and weighed twice as much, but it was on his shoulder and he was singing away as though it was as light as a feather!
That first hour was manic, but by 08.00 the window display was done and the shop officialy opened.
Roy and Micky went outside to see what their hard work looked like and see if any minor adjustments were needed. Once they were satisfied I was given the nod and the kettle went on!
Roy popped over the road and came back five minutes later. There was another Butchers on the other side of the road about 100 yards away. Roy liked to have a look at their display and compare the two. Our shop was always the best!
Customers would start to come in from about 08.15 onwards and would keep coming until about 2.00 in the afternoon. It was non stop.
My job now was to re-stock the window as soon as it was sold, so every 10-15 minutes I would be looking at the meat in the window, seeing what was going down and then replacing it as required.
So that was the routine, Roy and Micky would be serving, I would be replacing the empty trays in the window, and making tea all the time. Doughnuts were bought and eaten around 11.00, chips and rolls were bought and eaten around 2.00 and we started to clear up between 3 and 4.
We were a good team, I got paid my three pounds, given some steak for "Dads tea" and went home. Once again completely knackered!
Although it was all new to me, it felt as though I had been doing it my whole life. It just came natural.
I had only known Roy and Micky for a week but I felt as though I had known them for years. In fact they felt like older brothers, especially Roy.
I had no idea that my education and maturity in the next few years would be totally taken over by this man!