I will take advantage of this bout of insomnia to do an update.
So, with some minor and one major exceptions (a weekend in Wales Oct 17-19 with J’s family) in the first 2.5 weeks that I was in London I spent my time job-hunting. After having actually hunted as well as job-hunted in my life, I now know it is an apt analogy. (By the way, has anyone ever noticed that only a single letter separates “analogy” from a very kinky polyamorous situation?)
One major difference being that job-hunting is more depressing. On the other hand, if you were subsistence hunting then it has the potential to be pretty depressing, too. Starvation is a total drag. Any way you slice it, no job and no woolly mammoth this year means you starve.
The main thing I felt in both situations was sort of, “This is impossible. I can’t do this. I will do this.” Also with both hunting situations, there are tried and true, classic methods–e.g. patient stalking–and there are also times when it pays off to be bold. And the HR Manager/gazelle is so shocked they just freeze while you tackle them and make them into a hearty stew.
Anyway, I’m too far behind, I think, and too overworked at this point to catalog the process by which I landed a job as a butcher at an interesting “concept” farmshop in London. I put concept in quotes because really, the concept is nothing new. In the sense that organic farming, heritage/indigenous livestock rearing not to mention wild game hunting–how apropos!–are all ancient practice. But anyhow, I’m sure I will elaborate further on that in subsequent posts.
I think I felt obligated to hunt for an office-based job, so I did for a while, in the traditional way. CVs, cover letters, sifting through job postings, etc. But before I left the States I had identified the desire to learn more about the classic art of butchery in the cradle of where all this stuff–as we know it today–originated. Which is the UK and Europe. Anyway, I know how to dismantle sheep, deer and elk the way we do it at the school and the way hunters are wont to accomplish the task, but I’ve always been dissatisfied with how inarticulate my hands can feel when doing it. And I don’t get any practice for 9 months of the year. AND there are so many interesting traditions on this continent in terms of “using every part of the buffalo”.
People can be pretty grossed out when I tell them about how we cook and eat the blood of the mutton out in Ewetah. It seems like a crazy tribal throwback. Yet despite modernization and industrialization and all that tends to come along with that–processed foods and kids preferring Wii to tree, all things with which we are familiar in America–there are traditions that remain unbroken here in the UK and Europe. And I find that comforting and inspiring. Somehow at least a thread remains unbroken, whereas in the States it sometimes feels like our food movements are coping with the frayed ends of a cord that was crudely severed sometime in the 1950s. And we have to come to Europe to re-learn things, to splice into a new cord. Like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse.
You might say that there have always been pockets of people in the States who were keeping the tradition alive, and I’m sure there were. But what I’ve been struck by here is that it has stayed afloat on a popular level. For instance, it is commonplace to find blood sausage in the deli counter at the most populist supermarkets here. Cooking and eating blood, hmm.
So. I am working as a full-time butcher, and I have a crapload to learn, but it is all very interesting to me. And great because all the animals are native or heritage breeds reared with extremely progressive (again you could argue that it’s retrogressive in a way) organic and humane standards. And we got to visit one of the farm estates in Gloucestershire during our training to experience the operations there. Then there is the stuff I didn’t reckon on when I imagined working as a butcher that have come along with joining a young company that is opening a new chi-chi store with everyone working overtime and running around like mad. The kind of thing I thought I’d never really do because I knew I’d never be an investment banker or someone else who tends to end up with 60 hr/weeks.
Which brings me back to the insomnia. The past three nights I have woken up between 230 and 3AM full of anxiety about one niggling something from the previous day’s shift. Lame. Gosh. It’s just a job, people.
See, the thing is, I said no job means starvation. Which is true on some level. Except that for many of us in the industrialized world “starvation” has become a relative term (which is slightly immoral when there are hundreds of thousands of people actually starving). The terror that we might once have felt about starvation has more recently been reallocated to frankly really retarded things, like keeping up the lease on the BMW. And now I am kind of in that boat, kinda, with student debt. I wonder if I should have stuck with hunting!
Mostly, I’m learning a lot, having fun, having a ball living and working in London, living with J. Now if I could only learn to relax…