Beef feet

37 days in and it’s another day of work. There’s much to be said for living in the middle of nowhere. I have barely spoken a single word to another human being this whole day. I’ve spoken volumes to the dog, and more to the ether. I exchanged pleasantries with the woman on the till when I bought some food. 

The local supermarket is in equal parts brilliant and bizarre. It sells bits of cow that I can’t imagine ever knowing what to do with. Beef feet, all vacuum packed and stamped. Four to a packet. Beef brains. Beef marrow guts. “What’s for dinner daddy?” “Foot, brain and honeycombed lung casserole with toasted sweetbreads and chicken gut, darling.” “When does mummy come back? I hate you daddy.”


The place has a great range of fresh vegetable produce too. Heads of broccoli that make sense of why they’re called heads. Plenty of speciality ingredients. Really cheap wagyu mince. Teriyaki everything. I’m genuinely tempted to come back here on the last day and load my bag up with a freezer full of cheap meat. There are loads of Japanese accents among the people shopping, and I begin to notice that this is, essentially, a Japanese supermarket. It’s really cheap. I buy 4 fillet steaks in one packet (you cannot buy fewer) for 10 bucks. This puts paid to the “no meat” plan, but I’ll eat for days. I get the means to cheaply make strange curry sauces and unfamiliar marinades. If I was here for longer I’d get a crazy deep Japanese cookbook and properly make sense of this stuff but for now I’m sticking to the reasonably familiar. I’ve got work to do. Here’s my office:

I’m not used to silence. In this house, if the boiler isn’t blazing, you can hear the clocks ticking. Right now I can hear the dog licking her own mouth. In my London flat I can barely hear my own tinnitus. I am so accustomed to the white noise of the traffic that poor Alexa gets a workout too. I’m beginning to plumb the limits of her musical knowledge. She persistently refuses to understand the word “Elbow”. She has virtually no Michael Jackson. And yet she has the whole of the obscure nineties album Gordon by The Barenaked Ladies. She probably hates me by now as I’m constantly putting her through her paces. I should probably just play Rihanna and Bieber and have done with it. But I’d sooner die.


By the evening I am craving a human voice, so prior to walking the dog I get a free trial of Audible. Everyone in the UK is asleep so there’s no point chattering to a friend on whatsapp, so I get an audiobook. I’ve never read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and as part of my trial I get two credits. It only costs one of them to download the whole bloody thing read by some delightful stentorian old duffer. As Charlie the dog and I walk the night time streets of America, I learn all about Trajan and Hadrian, the makeup of a Roman Legion, their arms. It’s going to be interesting to hear about how a once all encompassing power fell apart, through decadence and complaceny, undermined from within.


Now I’m home I think I’ll post this, have a steak and watch The Daily Show to see what Trump has been up to.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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