Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Long time no omelet.

Long time no cheese omelet.

I walked for something like ten miles today all but some 400m on footpaths that weave their various ways through our wind sculptured countryside around here, and saw four people. It’s amazing when you think there are sixty million of us crammed into this small island that there is so much space. One of the four was a woman cleaning out a stable. The other three were in a farmyard I was passing through. They were standing around a large steer that was lying on its back with its feet straight up in the air. As I approached I noticed its head was positioned some four feet away from the rest of its body, from this I concluded that it was dead. Not wishing to appear as a wimp, and to acknowledge the downside of being a carnivore, I walked right on up and pondering what to say mentioned what a glorious day it was. Well it was for us; it must have started well for the steer but had gone rapidly down hill from there. They just glanced around at the sky and grunted agreement.

I realized they were slightly ill at ease at my presence. Their silence was broken by one of them informing me that the steer had had a good life and that it was lucky as it had died in its bed, adding that not many of them did that. I didn’t have a reply to this, thinking that the steer wouldn’t have known what its life had been like or that dying in its own bed by a shot to the head was particularly lucky. One of the three, obviously the local slaughter man, got back to work and started to remove the beast’s skin.

‘Be some fine meat on it’ I uttered as it was a huge carcass.

‘Looks more like fat’ came a muttered reply, as the skin was peeled back.

‘Well we did have a cold spell this winter’ I replied.

All this got me was three exasperated glances that basically said ‘fuck off will you’. I was wondering about this myself but as at any moment now the steers belly was going to be cut open unleashing an avalanche of viscera, things could be about to get interesting. I had taught the cow’s digestive system on countless occasions to class loads of pupils and I thought it would be quite interesting to see the rumen, reticulum, omasum, abomasum for real. I really shouldn’t pass over the chance; you never know when things might come in handy. I was always like talking to doctors and nurses about their medical experiences to gain background information to make my lessons just a little more capitivating. I also collected dead piglets from a farmer I knew and dissected them with the kids at school post mortem style to see why they had died and to show them all the organs as pigs inside look very much like ours. They used to be fascinated; the vegetarians were allowed to sit it out at the back of the class. If I had done that in more recent times half the class would have fainted or screamed and the letters of complaint would have flooded in. I did have a few complaints in those days but it was usually from parents whose children had stopped eating sausages or burgers as I had pointed out what bits of the carcass went in them. I did have fainters but never on a dissection. They usually came when I was describing heart operations. My record stood at eight. I had them carried out and sat along the corridor wall to recover.

In the end I remembered that I had actually retired and the displaced head looked bad enough, did I want to watch the bloody deluge? I felt that not only had my sudden appearance from nowhere disconcerted the three of them, if I then proceeded to delve into the entrails like some ancient soothsayer they may take umbrage. So I ruefully decided against watching and set off again giving them a cheerful cheerio. They managed a silent nod or two.

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