Spring on the Shambles

St. Bede’s Feastday, the Ninth year in the Reign of King Richard

butherThe frost thaws, the birds return and nest, and butchering is renewed on the Shambles.

Oh, the delightful aroma of blood and rotting flesh! And so it is Spring again in the butchering district. There has been an edict in place for many years now that the butchers on this street may not kill their charges on the Shambles itself any longer. The blood running down the gutter and the careless disposal of offal made the burgesses clamor for relief. Butcher stalls were created by the Thames so that the tide would clean it all away, but there are those who would rather risk fines to cleave to the old ways in their own shops. The last squeal of a pig as the throat is cut can be heard muffled behind walls. Buckets are carted forward by eager apprentices and tucked beneath the hanging flesh to collect the precious blood. Have we not all consumed fine blood puddings? The mouth waters with the thought of it, for I have not indulged in many a year.

I do not begrudge them. A man sets up a shop and expects to do all his business there. Though the wheelbarrows and carts that return from the river are just as bad as they had been before as they dribble blood and bits along the way. I suppose I should be grateful to reside close to meat, for the butchers have grown to know me and, God help me, take pity. I know I have received an extra dose of liver or that generous cut of a hock because of who I am. Because, perhaps, they feel safer with me as a neighbor. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The sheriffs dislike me and the Watch would just as soon I were slaughtered myself than have to deal once more with me.

And yet. It is what it is. We thank our neighbors kindly for their boon, and Jack and I patrol that extra hour, making certain that all is well. It is the least we can do.