Reckless Rent Rise Row

Stonking butcher Basil Chives is reeling after being told that the rent for his High Street premises is to increase by a massive 40% this autumn. Mr Chives (who recently won a national sausage competition for his Pork Wanger, a stiff, meaty banger with just a hint of cottage cheese) said : My landlord is behaving like a latterday Dick Turpin. Well, if he expects me to just stand and deliver I can show him somewhere to stick his carbine.

The rent increase is the latest – and greatest – in a series of hikes that has seen a number of well-established Stonking businesses moving out of the village or closing all together. Mr Chives thinks that he may well have to join the latter contingent after thirty years of presenting his meat to the loyal customers of Stonking. The worst part of all this will be the knowledge that my customers will probably turn to the supermarkets to get their meat. Well, they wont get the same personal treatment, thats for sure. They wont find anyone there quite so inclined to let them sample his brisket or sniff his rump.

Mr Chives landlord, Stonking resident and former fashion tycoon Wesley Thorndike, was unrepentant. He has accused Mr Chives of being repeatedly late with his rental payments and of being insolent to his customers. Mr Chives fervently refutes the first charge, although he acknowledges that an exchange he had with Mr Thorndike the previous week might have explained the charge of insolence. When old Thorndike came in and asked whether I had pigs trotters, I told him no, it was the way that I tied up my shoelaces. Well, I was only having a bit of banter and old Reg Smythe said it was the funniest thing hed heard since the previous funny thing hed heard, but old Thorndike! Well, he just stormed out of the shop looking as if someone had invaded his most private orifice with a cucumber.not that Ive ever seen anyone experience that, you understand.

We asked a selection of Stonking residents for their views on the possibility of the villages only butchers shop being forced to close :

Roger Blackwell : Its happening all over – independent village shops providing a direct service being forced to close down to be replaced by charity shops, building societies and estate agents. Though obviously, as I run an estate agents, that isnt all bad.

Dudley Town-Centre : Thats rather bad form, I must say. Although every Flying Cloud has silver bed-linen, so maybe in its place the village will get something it really needs, like a Private shop.

Loretta Martin : That would be an absolute tragedy. Basil Chives is the epitome of good customer service. I like my meat nicely filleted and whenever I need a good boning, I know I can rely on Basil and his chopper.

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