Friday, 4 October 2013

Of Goats...

(Photo credit: heliotropia)
Our neighbour is in the habit of slaughtering goats outside his villa. He's got a killing tree they hang from as he slits their throats then beheads and skins them. I make no complaint, but it can be a tad disconcerting to be popping down to Spinneys and find your gaze caught by the sight of glistening viscera and a pavement swimming with blood as a man in a shalwar kameez hacks away at furry folds.

They were preparing for a feast the other day, a pile of three beheaded carcases awaiting skinning as another was hoisted up. Must be a big family do or something.

It all rather got me thinking about the whole process. My mum remembers killing the pig from when she was a child, Wales in the 1930s, a big family and community occasion. Sarah remembers animals being slaughtered at home - Ireland in the 1970s was a very rural place indeed. Today, of course, we're too squeamish for that kind of thing in the West. The very sight of slaughter is something we cannot bear. We're far too sophisticated to stop and contemplate the fact our food contains, you know, dead stuff.

Sarah came back from school a couple of years ago with the marvellous news she'd told her class of five year-olds McDonalds were made out of cows. The class wouldn't believe her, a torrent of yews and general sick fascination following. These kids have only ever seen chicken on foam trays. They make no connection between a hen and the supermarket shelves.

Imagine - they mince up dead cows to make McDonalds. Lucky she didn't tell 'em what they put in the chicken nuggets, isn't it?

And strangely, in our rush to be 'humane' and escape the appalling sights of death, pumping blood and warm, fatty flesh I think we've become less human. We talk of humane killing and buy our food wrapped in plastic so we never have to become involved in the messy death of our next meal. By being 'humane' I think we seek to exonerate ourselves from the fact we kill to eat - and survive. And yet my neighbour understands his food, has taken the blood, the responsibility, on his own hands. He's a lot closer to life, through the cycle of death that feeds it, than I am picking my nicely prepared and sanitised meat product in a packet from the chiller in Spinneys.

Mind you, the spectacle of a bloody-handed bloke in a shalwar kameez hefting a big pointy knife in the street plays a lot better in Sharjah than it would in Surbiton...
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Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

Does your neighbour apply painted symbols to his goats, prior to slaughter?

I recall this from my time on a Mirdiff compound, where the nightwatchman had his Eid offering around for about a week and changed the decoration about three times before the end came.

I think it is unique to Indian sub-continent adherents.

Dave Edwards said...

You're right. I remember someone slaughtering a sheep in a street in Roehampton - must be nearly 30 years ago now - and there was national uproar!

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