Lamb to London

ImageIn the Sixties when parents were worrying that their children might not be getting enough to eat they could send half a side of lamb to them in London.



Later efficiencies of scale in the Meat Board meant that you could only send a whole sheep. The problem was that you never knew just when the sheep would turn up. You would arrive home from work to find an unexpected carcase straddling the doormat.

My flat in Belsize Grove was London size, about seven foot by seven foot, You could cook breakfast without getting out of bed. It had no windows but did have a skylight. You could stand on a chair and put your head out the skylight and get a great view on those rare days when you could see anywhere in London. There was no refrigerator so the whole space had to do that job.

When a carcase of lamb arrived the flat was barely big enough to fit it in. I solved that problem by putting it in a sack suspended on a rope and tossing it out the skylight into the freezing London winter.

From there it was a race against time. A big lamb, a tiny oven, and the best of New Zealand if you could eat it before it went off. Everyone was invited. Three shifts a night. The early birds found me out in the hall cutting up the carcase with a hacksaw. The late shift was late indeed.

The feasting over, life returned to normal. A can of peas from the Camden Market. Memories of home. Roast lamb on a Saturday night. Thoughts of beaches and green hills.