The Butcher

I was a vegetarian when I came here, and one of my best friends turned out to be the local butcher where I go for our dog’s fish.

He is slim, medium height, full grey hair, brown eyes for a change behind spectacles, always friendly and ready for a joke – “mind you, I don’t always feel like it”, he said when I expressed my appreciation one day -, visibly competent at doing his work, taking pride in it, personally involved with all his customers whom he calls old chaps and young ladies. Of course, he has a variety of other names for his female customers.

He learnt his trade from a German, he told me, and I like to watch him sharpen his knife

and then skilfully carve, cut, slice or saw a big bone through in no time. Once he had a triangular tear in a sleeve of his white overall, due to a misplaced meat-hook; another time he cut his thumb. However, he does not seem very accident-prone on the whole.

I like his solid-wood chopping blocks, one new, one old. I like especially the old one – it looks like a valley with a slope on either side. Its beauty, I hear, is not appreciated by the Health Inspector who would rather see everything new.

The two men working for him also have a sense of humour which they develop especially in their master’s presence. It is then  “young ladies” all over the place, no end of compliments flying either way across the counter, with the occasional, but very rare grim look from a customer who is too much in a hurry – his fault.

His assistants are an elderly tall gentleman, Joe, whose daughter-in-law is German and is living with his son in Germany, and a young fat lad, Aedan,sometimes a little cheeky, who has a moustache which suits him well, a very able salesman who manages to sell to my husband anything and who in general seems competent in his trade. He took me for Welsh, going by my accent, which rather flattered me.

The elderly gentleman has a firm place in my heart, and I believe I have one in his; I owe him many a good piece of meat for our dog !

To this day they do not know my name, which doesn’t matter, for there are always possibilities in England !