For about the last 5 years or so, strategic planning has had to be in operation in order to pick up any Christmas fare which had been ordered back in November from our village butcher’s shop.  Let me tell you why:

At one time we would all queue up outside on the pavement on Christmas Eve waiting to enter the little Victorian-looking butcher’s shop so that we could pay and receive our fresh turkeys.  The queue would stretch for some distance along the road. There was always a general atmosphere of bonhomie, and staff from the butcher’s shop would move along the queue handing out mulled wine and mince pies.  None of us minded standing there and chatting, and it all added to the festive spirit.

This all changed a few years back when staff decided it would be better to stagger the collection times and reduce the queue.  Instead of just Christmas Eve we now have the whole week beforehand to roll up and then roll out again with our orders.  Also another spanner in the works has appeared in the shape of a certain local gentleman whom I shall call Fred.

Fred is one of those helpful souls who is part of a group of people managing to always have their fingers in every pie to do with village life.  Fred’s booming voice can always be heard at the church fete running one of the stalls, or in the male voice choir, drama and carol singing groups to name but a few.  Unfortunately he has also taken it upon himself to stand outside the butcher’s shop every week before the Christmas closing dressed in either a Victorian gentleman’s outfit or a Father Christmas suit.  His object is to flog as many village calendars as possible.

I know it’s for a good cause (repairs to the village hall), but each year the price of each calendar rises higher than inflation.  Currently it stands at £8 for a calendar, and I, along with many others I suspect, do not need one.  It also makes me rather irritable that I just cannot go into the butcher’s shop and pick up my goods every year without Fred waving a calendar in my face and hassling me for money.

However, every day I go walkabout and I’ve learned a thing or two.  Over the last couple of years I’ve waved to Fred standing outside the butcher’s shop at eight o’clock in the morning, stamping his feet in the cold and waiting for a customer to grab.  When I go out again after lunch I’ve noticed that from 1pm – 1.30pm he is always off on his own lunch/comfort break., and that the amount of customers entering the butcher’s shop during that half an hour seems disproportionately high compared to the rest of the day…

No prizes for guessing what time I’m picking up my turkey on Saturday afternoon!