Day 8 of being self employed and here’s a lil’ anecdote from my adventures…
As my alarm goes off at 3am I think to myself “What the hell have you got yourself into, Randy?” I drag my sleepy-ass self out of bed, onto my lil’ purple bicycle. (Side note: why does the world think my bicycle basket is a bin? I’ve been finding all kinds of little treasures in there: used coffee cups, pens, used coffee cups…) Anyway, I hop on to my trusty steed and make my way down to Smithfield’s meat market and mentally prepare myself for the dawn banter to come.
Once I’m up and awake, I effing love 3am. The streets are empty… well nearly anyway. It’s populated by an incredible juxtaposed mixture of middle aged men headed to the mosque for prayers and drunkards falling out of night clubs on Kingsland Road.
A twenty minute cycle later and I’m at Smithfield (meat) Market. Straight into the madness, which is in full swing (opening hours 1am to 6am). This is a daily ritual, a wholesale meat market that dates back to the 1860’s!
And now I’m surrounded by burly men in big white, blood stained coats milling around outside the market as I lock up my bike. One guy lays down in the street in front of another driving a fork lift, the first imploring the second to run him over. Lots of laddish smiles and husky laughs as the man gets up off the floor and continues razzing his mate.
Smithfield’s is a kind of large covered market with a central alley and butcher’s shops lining both sides. I walk in and feel slightly sick at the smell of all the blood in the air. It’s overwhelming my senses before the sun has even risen.
Everywhere I look there’s meat. All different qualities and types. From tongue to whole hanging pigs to dry aged rib with gloriously yellow fat.
And damn it’s fun.
I saunter down the market in my bright pink cycling jacket, helmet in hand, being greeted by a string of cheerful butchers – teasing me and asking me if I’m “alright, love”, “can I help, love?”. But I know exactly what I’m after. I go down to my favourite butcher, order my massive cut of beef which I can barely carry, pay in cash (of course) and I’m off.
I cycle home just as the sun is rising – now with the streets truly quiet and 10 kilos of meat hanging out of my bike’s cute little straw basket.
I stumble back in bed at 4.30am and think how mad I am to be doing this pop up – and wondering what the fish market will be like tomorrow night…