Today Steve, the butcher told me a couple of stories. It was from when he was but a lad and working in London. It came up because he was telling me how it used to be that he could swing a cleaver and rend a cut of meat with one or two swipes. He would always hit the same cut mark and it would be clean. These days, he said, if he does it in three swipes he’s having a good day and he rarely (if ever) lands in the same spot twice.
At the time he was still in training and, therefore, had the crappy jobs. One of these crappy jobs was to cut up the frozen legs of New Zealand lamb – you had to cut them frozen otherwise they’d turn black. This particular day he was chopping away in the back of a market when a sudden ruckus made him look up.
A complete leg of lamb came sailing through from the front of the shop, hurtling towards his head. He said he felt it graze his face before splattering on the wall behind him.
“You can shove that up your arse,” came a loud voice. “It’s tough as old boots!“
This was not what he thought the meat trade was like. He hadn’t realised that flying meat was a probable work hazard. Still, he managed to stay in it and a little later he was working at the Smithfield meat auction, mostly chopping.
One day, bright and early, Big Ron, the usual auctioneer made a sudden and unexpected announcement to the gathered buyers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have a bit of a treat for you this morning. Instead of putting up with me, we’ve decided to give the young bloke a go at running the auction.“
He indicated Steve, standing on his left and led the subdued applause. Steve looked to his left and noticed that the owner, Frank the Spiv was standing close on that side. He was nervous and not a little bit embarrassed.
From some distant unremembered past, a bit of advice came to him: Always start with a joke. He thought hard then, with a big, uncertain smile on his face spread his arms wide and declared:
“I feel like a rose between two thorns!“
“You look like a fucking ham sandwich,” came a loud heckle from a lady in the front row.
NB: Apart from Big Ron, I’ve changed the names…because his is the only one I actually remember.