When I was young, of tender year,
I was sent to the butcher shop,
And left the house with a heart of cheer,
With instructions not to stop
For the butcher shop was quite some way
And the road was uphill straight,
I paused as I heard our neighbour say
“Nice day for yer shoppin mate!”
In roadside dust you could see a glint
Of the gold dust sparkling there,
On rainy days you could catch a hint
Of the gold claims now mined bare.
I topped that hill and gazed around
At the distant mountains clear,
My pace increased with a joyful bound
As I viewed those vistas dear.
Allan the Butcher yelled, “Hello!”
I stretched to my four foot height,
And passed the note in the afterglow
Of my recent uphill flight.
Arch was there in the butcher shop
He gave his usual greeting,
We gathered round, and our eyes would pop
When we heard of his big fight beating
Arch was Australia’s fighting great
So we listened in with pride,
Old and grey but his back was straight,
As we all stood round inside.
Soon farmer Smith, his wife behind
Came in through the old front door,
His skin was red, her face was lined
He spoke with a square set jaw.
We all left Arch and gathered round
They told of the sale in town,
Five good cows and a horse he’d found
And he’d beat the owners down.
We all gave out a hearty cheer
When Dave the baker came,
He sparred with Arch who showed no fear
In his comrade’s friendly game
Pop showed up for his salt beef side
And he joined in all the fun,
Smiths went out for their long home ride
And they waved to everyone.
Grandma Jones with her panting dog
Pushed in through the swinging door,
She ordered bones and side of hog
As the dog sniffed round the floor
I sat with Arch as crowds pressed near
We watched as they left the shop,
He told of fights of yesteryear
And the punch that made him stop!
So happy in the friendly clime
Of this country gathering place,
I hadn’t really checked the time
Now the music I must face.
I hastened home with wrapped up pack
I ran with a guilty fear,
Thoughts of pain from the paddy whack
I would get as the house drew near.
Mother smiled, as I rushed on in
My heart was about to stop,
She brushed aside my imagined sin
She had been to that butcher shop.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2014 All rights reserved”
The old butcher shop I have described really did exist as I grew up in Gympie, Australia, and it was as much fun to visit there as the poem implies. Arch Bradley was a professional fighter of national renown.
Later as a cadet in an accounting firm after I started work I got to audit the accounting records of that shop. As you can imagine they were not very good at keeping records.