Every morning at 7:30 we hear the cantankerous crank crank of the butcher’s canopy as he opens it up it. At 8:00 we can expect the inevitable pounding as he works away at some lump of meat or another. It sounds like a sledgehammer on the other side of our bedroom wall. He also wraps packages in twine, which he unrolls from a pulley that hangs from his ceiling. The rattle-attle-attle sounds as if it is actually inside our tiny room.
For the first week or so living here, I woke up to these noises and fumed over them for the next hour or two while I desperately tried to go back to sleep. And this is all to say nothing of the hairdressers who live next to us on the upper floor, who apparently only run up their stairs (which form part of our quirky walls). There is also apparently no insulation whatsoever between our flats, because we can hear pretty much everything the hairdressers say when they are in the room attached to our bathroom.
“Morning, Doris! Alright?”
“Yeah, alright, you?”
“Dreadful morning fog, this. I was just telling Cyril over breakfast...” Etc etc.
Once, when Marc was in the bathroom, he heard one of the ladies sneeze on the other side of the wall. He said, “bless you!” --which was followed by a dramatic pause and then an explosion of laughter from all the ladies in the parallel universe on the other side of the bathroom.
But now the clockwork regularity of the butcher’s noise has become a kind of comfort. When I hear his crankity crank in the morning I feel the cheery onset of another day. When he begins to pound, I am out of bed, joining in the bustle of this old fashioned street.
Living among all the bustle has some unexpected advantages. Even if I stay inside all day working on research, I am hearing all the action going on around me, and I am almost out among it while I am tucked away cozy inside.
And with the onset of cold weather, the butcher has started making cold-weather foods again: meat pies, roasts, sausage rolls. He bakes them first thing in the morning. You know that feeling of waking up on Thanksgiving day to the smell of all sorts of savory things cooking? Our butcher fills one side of our flat with the most heavenly smells at 8 am, that bring with them a wave of nostalgia and the feeling of warm, happy, home.
Maybe that's how it is, in life I mean. There are butchers, pounding away at the most obnoxious hours. But they also bake pies.