Monday, December 24, 2007

Joe the Butcher, A Christmas Story

Joe the butcher man was a friend of a friends dad and we all played dominoes in a pub of a Sunday lunchtime when ah wor nobbut a youth.

Joe the butcher was your archetypal butcher, big and round like a barrel, jolly smile on his face, made a lot of sausages and pies, which turned out to be fortuitous one Christmas...

It was their busiest Christmas ever, they had taken over a hundred orders for free range turkeys and even more orders for their home made pork pies, Christmas Eve through the daytime was as busy as Joe could ever remember it and as he told the story to us in the pub the following weekend his jolly, ruddy face lit up and we all knew that he'd taken a boatload of cash that day, nothing made Joe the butcher happier than a till full of cash for Christmas.

The fresh, free range turkeys had been delivered freshly killed and hung the previous night, each one labelled with its weight, each one checked against the ledger and customer's name assigned to the label according to the weight they had ordered and paid a deposit on.

Joe the butcher and his three helpers rushed around the shop counter all day, in and out of the chiller room, checking the customer order ledger, checking the turkey tags, making sure everyone was happy and that they stumped up the cash, a turkey for every customer and every customer for a turkey, including Joe, who had picked out the biggest and fleshiest one for himself as he had lots of family coming around to his house for Christmas dinner, him being a butcher and all.

And then finally it was 6pm and the till rang up one last sale, the door was locked as the last customer left the shop and they all wearily took off their aprons and congratulated each other on a successful day's trading, Joe shared a sherry with them all. slapped them on the back, wished them all a Merry Christmas and then accompanied them to the door waving them all off down the road to their buses and their homes.

Turning back to his shop he filled a cash bag with the takings ready to drop off at the nightsafe on the way home, put on his overcoat and cap and then went to the chiller room to collect his bag with his Christmas turkey inside, the pick of the bunch it was.

Except that it wasn't.

It wasn't there.

In fact the chiller room was empty, sold out, everything gone, some daft bugger had sold Joe the butcher's turkey.

He searched high and low for his turkey, in cupboards, under shelves, in the fridge, the display cabinets, nothing, not a sausage, well actually there were sausages, in fact the only piece of meat left in the shop were the sausages, everything else had been sold, cleaned out he was and he had the cash in the bag to prove it.

He had no choice for in those long past days all the shops were closed as late as 6pm, no late night shopping, no 24 hour supermarkets, Joe the butcher took home six pounds of pork sausages for the huge family gathering on Christmas Day.

When he recounted this tale in the pub the following week we were hurting with laughter by this time, you see we all knew that Joe the butchers wife was a fearsome women and more than that he had three fearsome grown-up daughters, and they and their families were all coming round for Christmas lunch - sausages.

He declined to inform his wife on Christmas Eve, came in, got changed and went straight to the pub but when he came home later that night, very much later and very much drunker his fearsome wife was waiting for him demanding to know where the turkey was so that she could get it ready for the morrow.

"Some daft bugger flogged it in the shop my love" he explained through a beer cloud and raising each forefinger and doing a little flapper dance added "ooh-poop-ee-doo" in an attempt to make light of the matter.

By the time he got to explain all of this to us the following weekend his wife and his daughters were still not speaking to him especially after he jokingly stood at the head of the Christmas Dinner table and pretended to carve the string of sausages that he had proudly presented to them on a silver patter surrounded by sage and onion stuffing and roast potatoes.

He never failed to recount that story every year and neither, you will not be surprised to note, did his wife and daughters.

The moral of this Christmas Story (for there has to be a moral at Christmas) is "Fook everyone else, make sure your turkey's in the bag, Christmas is for taking, not for giving".

1 comment:

ladykpk said...

Have a good one!