Tuesday, August 04, 2009

brown paper packages tied up with ... memories

My morning at work was spent packing stock for wholesale orders, piles of luscious prints all tied up in brown paper to be shipped around the world, a wonderful task which frees your mind to wander a bit. Which mine did. It has a tendency when left unattended.

And so I got to thinking about the butchery in the small town where I grew up. It was a regular stop on a Saturday morning, along with other ritual weekly errands such as getting new books from the library and stopping in at the Portuguese corner shop to spend our 50c allowance on Chappies.

The butchery was utterly fascinating to us kids. The rows of sheep and pig carcasses in the refrigerated back room visible through glass windows, the whine of the electric meat saws as the butcher sliced cuts of meat, how the whine went up in pitch as he sawed through bone, the troughed floor which ran with pink water when his assistant hosed it down, the unidentifiable pile of off-cuts and bone chips which gathered in big trays just under the counter, the trays which were then moved to the Other Counter, the one closest to the door, the one from which non-white customers were served.

And always a clean, pure meat smell. Never unpleasant, just fresh and meaty. The butcher's fingers were as clean and pink as the smell of his shop, and his hands worked fast. Slicing meat, drumming on the top of the chest height counter to indicate he was ready to take your order, expertly twirling links of sausage to fold into a neat parcel, and wrapping up your order in crisp squares of brown paper.

He had a stack pre-cut and waiting by the till and I could've watched him pack meat for hours. He folded, tucked, turned and retucked those parcels so expertly that they were as secure as could be, solid cool packages of meaty goodness.

Kobus Chops. That's what the village called him. His name was Kobus and he was the butcher and in the way of small towns the world over, he was given a nickname. And when a new pharmacist, also named Kobus,  moved to town a few years later and set up shop across the street from the butchers, he was called Kobus Pills. Kobus Chops and Kobus Pills. Naturally.

Funny where your mind will take you when you let it run on autopilot. Funny how something as simple as squares of brown paper can unlock a memory you thought you'd long forgotten.

PS See some examples of my work here.

PPS Just to be clear, I only taking credit for wrapping these beautiful things.

PPPS Apologies to all vegetarians (especially you Heather!), no animals were harmed in the writing of this post (though I can't say the same for the creation of these memories ... )

3 comments:

rxBambi said...

I love it! Can I be Bambi Pills? Or should I give you my real name and it it Pills? Or maybe just Pills. Funny thing is, we don't really use pills anymore. They are a specific form that is rolled. We use tablets, capsules, caplets, etc, but not pills. Interesting, huh?

Now I need to go back and click on the links...

Heather Moore said...

Marvellous! I'll never think of those neat little packages you make in the same way again. Hmm, perhaps I should design an "offal" tea towel.... Then again, maybe not!

Georgie K. Buttons said...

I'm actually supposed to be singing "My Favorite Things" on Saturday at a party. I should probably learn the words.