I hadn’t seen him for quite a while. Haven’t seen your Mum for ages, fat Aedan said to my son. How’s your Mum? Is she alright? the Butcher asked my daughter. I don’t know what Joe thought. He was probably reassured at seeing my children. Even the Orms’ neighbour had been asked how I was, I heard from the Orms, at one time I used to shop there regularly with them.
I sent my daughter yet again to buy some meat. She came back beaming. The Butcher had inquired not only after me, but also after her … boyfriend! What a nuisance! Had I told him anything ? It would be just like me ! I protested my innocence and she believed me.
I then found out that we had forgotten our dog’s meal. His weekly pet-mince. And a bone. And a slice of liver for pussycat. I got into the car and went to see my friends. How are you all ? I greeted them. They were pleased to see me. While Aedan was serving me, I had a little chat with the Butcher. He hoped he hadn’t put off my daughter this morning, he said, by asking after her boyfriends. I was able to put his mind at rest. No harm in teasing a little. He said apologetically, a good-looking girl like that and no boyfriends? Impossible.
I then explained why I hadn’t been for so long. In the first place we didn’t eat much meat. Oh dear, he said. I mentioned I was fully aware that this was no good for his business and begged him to remember, on the other hand, that we were vegetarians at one time and therefore he wasn’t doing all that badly on us after all. He laughed. I pointed out we had a Sunday joint pretty regularly. He thought it was amazing we had turned to meat after being vegetarians. For all he knew, it was the other way round normally. I told him I’d been through the vegetarian stage without stopping there unduly. He didn’t know whether to take me seriously or not and laughed cautiously. I noticed that another customer was becoming interested in the conversation. The Butcher said he’d heard or read, he didn’t remember which, that vegetarians have an extremely dangerous life, because all the food they go in for is particularly contaminated by poisons of all kinds. How could anybody be a vegetarian? Suicidal!
He looked very concerned and the other customer said, she would love her niece to hear this, her niece having just turned vegetarian. I pointed out that in meat, of course, we get the poisons from the feed plants plus the chemicals that are administered directly to the animals, like antibiotics, hormones and many more. Not in my meat! the Butcher protested. I told him, this was why we came to him ! He was reassured and informed me, there was a new law forbidding the use of hormones altogether. He didn’t mention any of the other substances. As for hormones, farmers had a year’s grace to get rid of their stocks. And after that it would be illegal, against the law, and who would dare … He looked determined.
How do we solve all these problems, the other customer sighed. Best not to think about them, I laughed. The Butcher laughed, too. I bet he appreciates easy-going customers !
I asked him to give my regards to Joe who wasn’t in. He said ‘thank you’ and ‘will do’.