Wednesday, 31 August 2011

How three singing butchers got me thinking about my campaign

The other day I was in that great Fremantle institution, Frank's butcher, waiting while a young apprentice pounded my steak for me.  Another couple of staff also in their late teens were busy behind the counter. There was a song playing on the radio, something modern that my wife would know the name of, sung by a woman in a clear, pure falsetto.

I was watching my meat being tenderised when the song reached its chorus and something odd and really quite wonderful happened - with perfect synchronicity, the three young staff downed tools, shut their eyes and started singing along, unashamedly, in falsettos that matched the original vocalist's in power and feeling if not in purity.

When the chorus finished, the young men opened their eyes and resumed their cutting and pounding without so much as a murmur.

It occurred to me then that it wasn't just the quality of the meat and the service that attracted me to Frank's.  It was the fact that if I went to the nearest supermarket for my sausages, I'd have missed hearing three teenage boys raise their honestly quite tuneless voices in song in a way that was truly unforgettable.  I'm pretty sure that singing to the customers is against the rules in supermarkets.

It's because of things like that, that I will always support the local over the conglomerate, the smaller trader with sincerity rather than the supermarket with a customer service charter.  Whether I'm in Frank's getting free music, or at Villa Roma with my 3 year old nephew getting free lemon mousse because Nunzio's remembered he likes sour things, it's the sincerity that makes the difference.  Try to run a top notch business according to a charter dreamt up by a marketing team, and you'll always end up with less soul.

And the more I think about it, the more I feel that the same applies to candidates running for council in local elections.  There are several types, as far as I can see: the supermarket kind, who are in it for business reasons and who care deeply about a narrow set of isssues but not much else, or who are aligned with a political party and operate according to the party line, often at the cost of a right decision for the locality...and then there are those like Frank's Butcher.  That's the candidate I feel like I am, and that I will strive to be.  Local, sincere, unaffiliated to any party, switched on to what's really important at the end of the day.  And not good at singing.

I'm not saying that every other candidate for this seat won't be capable of making good decisions (and not just because it would get me into trouble).  I'm just saying - ask the questions.  What are going to be the influencing factors when it comes time to make a tricky decision - party lines, business interests or what's good for Freo?  For me, it will always come down to the fact that I live here and I love it - and I want Freo to keep growing into everything it promises it can be.


  1. The song was 'Last Day on Earth' by Kate Miller Heidke. One of these days I'm going to have to introduce you to music that's not by Radiohead.
    Vanessa (your wife)

  2. Nice story Michael

    I'll be voting for you
    Neil F

    (No relation)

  3. Hi Michael - a great story. Luckily I've missed out on a performance by the "three teeners", but for Frank's fine meats, it's probably worth the pain. I'm very interested in finding out more about your thoughts on big issues in Freo, particularly the planning amendments currently up for discussion. We need more truly independent councillors. Many declare they are, but you don't have to look hard to discover their affiliations suggest otherwise. Cheers, Lloyd

  4. Thanks Michael 4 supporting the local, small business. Good luck with ur campaign

  5. Thanks Lloyd. Yep, Frank's meats are well worth it! Thanks also for your suggestion on what you'd like to hear more about - I'll make sure I discuss the scheme amendment in an upcoming post. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  6. Thanks Frank, keep up the good work!

  7. Nice story Michael,
    As I was reading it I couldn't help but reminisce about my few years at Frank's; although admittedly my sudden outbursts of song were confined to the big walk in fridge! It's these small businesses that make Freo the way it is and if we can have local government match this we have a winning recipe. Good luck!