Butcher Boy ( Part 4, Learning the Ropes)
After 4 or 5 Saturdays, Roy asked if I could also work after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I jumped at the chance, I could be in the shop by 4 ocklock and help clear up for the last two hours and still be home by 6.30. Roy promised to give me £5 per week if I did after school and Saturdays.
It worked well, I would turn up at the shop, start emptying the window, scrub the blocks, sweep up and of course put the kettle on!
Tuesdays and Wednesdays we would be out of the shop by 5.45 but on Fridays we were much busier and might not finish until 6.30. I didn't care I was with Micky and Roy and that's all that mattered!
When I think back to those days now, we were just kids really, me 14. Micky 17 and Roy was only 25. We would play practical jokes on each other ( well, mostly on me actually). I remember one day, Micky thought it would be hilarious to throw an egg at Roy, it hit him on the back of the head and exploded. That was it, Roy was off on one, he got half a dozen eggs and launched an attack on Micky, every one of them hit him on his head or kneck, he was covered! Then for no reason at all they both thought it would be great fun to each throw a dozen eggs at me, there was no where to run and I got plastered!
Their other favourite was to send me on errands, these of course were all made up. On one accasion Roy asked me to go to the Butchers over the road to ask if he could borrow some instant water.
"We've run out of instant water Joe, run over the road and ask if we can borrow some, tell him its only for a couple of days and then I'll replace it"
"Ok Roy", I was off, running across to the other side of the road, only to be told by the other Butchers " No fucking way, he's not getting his instant water till we get our sky hooks back"
You can imagine the reception that greeted me when I returned and told Roy and Micky what they had said. They both fell about laughing. It took a while but I soon got to understand this strange sense of humour!
Roy also taught me the Butchers back slang, this is a secret but very simple language that all Butchers use, I know it sounds crazy but they could have whole conversations with each other and you would be convinced that it was a completely different language. It was invented so that Butchers could talk to each other and give instructions without the customers knowing what they were talking about. Every word is backwards.
So the word "old" becomes dlo. This is pronounced "deelow". The word "pork" is now krop, pronounced "kayrop". Lamb becomes "beemal"
A customer comes in and asks for a nice piece of lamb for the weekend., Roy then shouts to Micky, "Micky get this nice lady that dlo bmal thats in the fridge". Micky then knows to get the older piece of lamb and not the freshest.
Swearing was the best, you could call people the worst names and they had no idea! Bastard was dratsab, fuck was kaycuf and cunt was teenuc.
If someone came in that one of us didn't like and asked for a leg of pork we would call out " Get this dlo dratsab a nice dlo gel of krop" Great Fun!
After 6 weeks, Micky asked Roy if he could show me how to cut up a whole lamb. Roy agreed but said it would have to be in our own time when the shop closed. So at the end of the day when the shop was closed up, Micky showed me where to cut and what to cut with ( Chopper, saw or knife) and then how to present it. He only showed me once and I had it! Soon I would be beating both Roy and Micky in races to see who was the fastest at this specialised event.
The more time I spent with Roy the more I realised what a big gambler he was, He would bet on anything. But he especialy liked the horses and the dogs. He bet everyday, all day!
There was a betting shop on the parade of shops across the road and Roy would be forever going backwards and forwards, especially on a Saturday afternoon to get his bets on. After I had been with them for about 6 weeks, Roy took me to one side and said " Come on son, let me introduce you to some people". We walked across the road together to the betting shop. Roy went in and I waited outside. Even I knew you can't go into a betting shop until you're 18. He came out again.
" Come on, what the fuck you waiting for?"
We walked into the shop and went up to the counter. There were two flat nosed men behind the counter looking rather menacing.
" Alfie, Chris, this is Joe, he's my new Saturday Boy, he'll be putting my bets on from time to time. Ok?"
The two guys behind the counter smiled and said " No problem Roy"
From that day onwards I was Roys, runner!
The same went for the local pub. Just 5 minutes walk from the shop. One Saturday we were eating out Chips and rolls and Roy says to Micky " Fancy a pint?" Micky agreed.
" Joe, go over the pub and get us three pints of lager"
"Roy, they won't serve me, I'm only 14"
"Just tell them its for Roy the Butcher, it'll be fine"
I walked over to the pub, dressed in my white coat and striped apron, walked up to the bar and gingerly said " 3 pints of lager please" then added very quickly, " They're for Roy the Butcher"
The bar tender smiled and started to pull the pints. He put them on a tray " Tell Roy, they're on me" he said.
Within a few minutes I'm back in the shop, drinking a pint of lager and eating chip rolls!
It was at this stage that I suddenly realised that by using Roys name in this area you could get anything you wanted. but I was curious to find out why!