Deborah Ross: 'Butcher flirting is flirting for a purpose and the purpose is marrow-bone'

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If you ask me, once you get a dog, you need to start flirting with your local butcher like a mad thing, and you must do this flirting whether the butcher likes it or not. Personally, I suspect my butcher does not like it, judging by the way he tries to dart out back whenever I enter his shop, but as I will say to him when I get to know him even better: "Do you think I'll assume the shop is unmanned and just go away? Well, I won't, you big ninny. Now, stay put and flirt! Be a man!"

This, though, is not just any old flirting. This is flirting for a purpose and the purpose is a marrow-bone, which is like crack for dogs. Show my dog a marrow bone and he performs an excited dance which, if you want to try it at home, must involve spinning in circles while trying to bite your own balls off.

So a marrow bone is crack and the butcher is your dealer. This is why you must flirt with him, and although there are no rules on how to flirt with your butcher – not yet, although my Butcher Flirting for Beginners will shortly be published by Ebury – you may wish to start with a few generally admiring comments, as in: "My, what lovely meat you have on display today". And: "If I were mental enough to make a dress from meat, this is certainly where I would come".

You must then go in for some general chit-chat to show you are more than just another customer. How is the new Waitrose affecting business? I see you have a new fly screen. I like it very much. It may even be my favourite fly screen in the area. You then have to buy a few things. A few chops, say, or one of those organic chickens that come in at £109.99, but that's OK, because once you have the marrow bone, you can just chuck it all away. The bone is the thing.

"Oh, do you happen to have a bone for the dog?" you ask at the end, as if it where an afterthought. Usually, I do geta marrow bone, which shows that this flirting really, really works, even though my butcher might say: "Anything to get rid of her. She's scarily unattractive and obviously insane". But he's just playing hard to get, I think.

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