A Didsbury Anecdote
When I asked my dad for pocket money aged 14, he put me to work in the butcher’s next door. That was his idea of a life lesson. I remember sloping in there one summer after school, seeing cruel, empty hooks, the last of the meat starting to grey and curl. A wasp circling. Me asking Tony if I could help out on Saturdays.
Tony was funny. He was like a second dad; a more amiable, jovial version. He recognised me as a fellow smoker. He used to crawl on his hands and knees behind the counter to hide from customers he didn’t want to talk to, pulling your trouser legs to make you laugh. He once got wind I was stuffing my face with the sweet treats he kept in the back of the shop, and left out a bag of marshmallows that he’d hollowed out and filled with mustard. I thought my head was going to explode. There was always sawdust on the floor. One day he was chasing me round the shop for something else I'd done, I threw some behind me and he got a mouthful.
It’s a shame he’s dead; he was a lovely fellow.
Their family was a bit tragic really. Gareth had an odd-shaped head from a meningitis skull cap he’d worn as a baby. Their mum Diane was the local Weight Watchers poster girl, losing 20 stone only to pile it all back on. Gwyn had in-line roller blades. He was fantastic on them. I jealously watched his tricks in the local park. He ended up living alone and setting himself on fire after coming home drunk and leaving an electric fire on. He survived, but always seemed to have a cough after that.
Owen took over when Tony died, but he was a work-shy butcher. He drove cabs on the side. It wasn't the same after that.