Archive Article: 2000/02/18

18 February 2000

Stan –

the butcher

STAN, by his own admission, was never no good at school. "Couldnt get on with it – all that learning."

So he left as soon as he could (with a little encouragement from the headmaster) and, after working his way through the meat trade, got his own shop. "Sals" he called it – after the missus.

Stan met Sal when he was 16 and married her soon after when she got in the family way. "Fancy coming out for a spot of rabbiting tonight," was how he asked her out the first time. Needless to say, they didnt do much rabbiting.

Sals – Purveyors of Finest Meats. It still brings a smile to Stans round, red-as-apples face, seeing the sign above the door. Hes a respectable member of the local community now. Gives youngsters their first break. Gives them a trade. Kids that – like him – werent no good at school.

Stans done pretty well all told. Hes making a nice little living from the shop. A tidy packet. Not that hed ever admit it, of course, and he does work hard for it. In the shop before daybreak, home after dark. And its not easy running a butchery business – not nowadays with the "veggie brigade" and the red tape and the competition from supermarkets. But I, says Stan, can offer the customer one thing the supermarkets never can – personal service.

"Hows your hip, Ethel, my love?" he asks one punter as she shuffles through the door in search of cheap liver. "Hows that old dog of yours, Mark, mate?" he asks the next one to arrive. All the ladies are "my love". All the men are "mate".

When it comes to names and faces, hes got a memory like an elephant, in fact. And, for someone that couldnt get on with maths at school, hes a dab hand at tallying up the bill.

Stans a bit of a comedian on the side. He makes suggestive remarks about sausages – before chatting about the weather, the state of farming and politics. And his customers rarely leave without an armful of meat. Stan waves them off, smiling. "Call again – see you soon, my love," he says, scratching his moustache, thinking about trading-up the motor.

Sal, meanwhile, is out the back, doing the necessary to a dead animal, wielding a knife with the same manual dexterity Stan shows. The same-sized muscles, too.

Stan hasnt got a neck but hes got arms as thick as forequarters and a face like a Hereford bull. You rarely see him without a blood-stained apron on. He could be quite frightening, really, if you didnt know him. But everyone does know him – hes Stan, purveyor of finest meats.

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