Yup, she's coming.
If she mentions that fucking book again, I'm gonna feed her into the sausage machine.
And that's not a euphemism.
In my first memory the butcher is singing a Beatles song to my little sister who beams fatly in her pram. I am jealous because I don't have a name in a song, and I pinch her when nobody is looking. She cries, and the butcher's boy goes out and comes back with an ice-cream in a waffle cone. I am forbidden from having a lick, and she holds it, uneaten, and melting down her little arm until it is thrown into a rubbish bin on the way home.
In my second, my granny is telling the butcher to slice the ham more thickly because she has her granddaughter over for lunch. I am gently coaxed to go round the side of the huge counter to be cooed over. I refuse to move and afterwards, my little paw in my granny's gloved hand, she explains that sometimes we have to do things to make other people happy, even though we don't want to do them ourselves.
I think it was the worst piece of advice I was ever given, though my granny followed it religiously and, as a result, was adored by hundreds of people. I am happy to remain unadored and pleasing only myself.
Now I am a doughty lady of a certain age, I have a wonderful relationship with my butcher. He runs a proper sawdust-on-the-floor, blood-smelling shop with tiled walls and metal chains on the door to keep the flies out. He called me 'madam' for five years, and then I was upgraded to 'sweetheart.'
I have learned to avoid Monday visits because it's when the deliveries come and there is still enough of the experimental teenage vegetarian in me to find the sight alarming. There are whole carcasses and open-topped boxes of offal. there are little rabbits and braces of partridge, all tied at the neck and slung with casual morbidity, across the table in the front. They lie slumped, awaiting the honed and lethal blade that quietly transforms the bloody, dripping lumps into sanitised and picturesque cuts.
I didn't fancy seeing that today, but the chicken I had bought for the weekend was off, and I knew that I had to go and let them know. It turns out I am more British than I realised. I felt shy and guilty at bearing bad news and was tempted to say nothing, ever. But I took a deep breath and went in; I apologised for saying anything; he apologised and I apologised for bringing it up. He apologised that I'd had to make the journey down the hill and miss my Sunday roast. He was so mortified he called me 'madam' twice. He pressed on me an enormous bag of chicken and livers and a couple of chops. I felt awful for having to tell him, he started another round of heartfelt apologising. He was also sorry for the horrible rain we were having, and what the hell was going on in Ukraine. I felt as though I'd been in there for hours.
He insisted I took an enormous bone for the dog. I hadn't the heart to say she prefers toast and Marmite instead. I should have asked him to buy me ice-cream and sing me a Beatles song instead.