First Time for Everything

When I was younger I had a part-time job in a city butcher shop that was a landmark for Corkonians. O’Donovans Butchers was one of those places that had a historical significance for all sectors of society. Not only did the very poor get there weekly supply of meat there… was also the wealthy people that stopped there to purchase hams, cheeses, cold meats, coleslaws, spiced beef, chicken and most of all that special turkey for Christmas. This was the only place to purchase a turkey of any worth over the Christmas period. Spiced beef and hams were cooked on the premises and the turkeys were hung for a week in the attic before they were gutted and cleaned out for the Christmas rush. Fresh meat and eggs were delivered to the wealthy and poor alike in the delivery vans or in earlier years by the delivery boys on their bikes all over the city of Cork. This was a place that held a special place in the hearts of all Cork people.

And I worked there as a general dogs body for the best part of 2 years. Up the steep stairs to the chicken room where the hams and chickens were prepared and cooked along with spiced beef and an assortment of all kinds of cold meats. This was a place with character, especially in the mid 80’s when people were more real you could say.  For a few hours after school and all day Saturday I did everything that was asked of me…..usually cleaning and delivery of parcels to all parts of the city. The chicken room was a strange place to be for a young fella like myself….raw to the world….but boy did I learn to grow up quickly surounded by the men and women of this place. The building itself was part of the English Market and consisted of high ceilings and nooks and crannies …a virtual maze of a building. In the chicken room the acoustics were on a par with the Albert Hall….empty spaces that reverberated sound and we took full advantage of this. Combined with the smells and busy traffic of people rushing to and fro….this was a unique and wonderful place to have experienced at such a young age. We in the chicken room  had to wear blue boiler suits because of the kind of work that was carried out…..lots of blood mixed with saw dust on the floors! On my first day I was too small for the boiler suit so they had to cut it to size which was slightly embarassing for me but within a matter of weeks or months maybe …I seem to go through a growth surge which put me on a level par.

On the window sill there was a little ghetto blaster that played tapes and one of those tapes was Supertramps “Even in the Quietest Moments”. All the music was supplied by fellas who grew up in the 70’s …so by default thats what I had to listen to.  When the music played in this virtual cave it sounded like nothing else I had heard up until that point….all kinds of bands and musician’s, but it was Supertramp that stayed in my soul. It must have stuck to me like the sawdust that seemed to follow me everywhere I went.

A few years later when I was on a schooltour that was passing through London for Europe….we were given the oppurtunity to do a bit of shopping. Strolling through massive record stores with endless selctions of music …a sight not seen in Ireland at the time. At that time all we had was Golden Disc’s with a very limited selection on offer. To be let loose in a place like this was awe inspiring. I must admit I was quite out of my depth at the time…so the 1st tape thatt caught my eye was that album by the band I had grown to love. I still have it…also on CD. It sounds just as good now as it does then!! Each time I hear the opening chords of the title track it brings me back to my youth and the people that were part of my growing up process.

This is the title track. Listen with the volume turned up in an empty room for added  affect!



3 thoughts on “First Time for Everything

  1. Wow, must have been so cold in the chicken room, not to mention having to get used to the smell of blood and guts. You were perhaps luckier in the music that was thrust upon you by senior workers than I once was. I had a boss who drove us an hour and a half to work in the morning and an hour and a half back each evening while subjecting me to Barry Manilow, Barbera Streisand and (the one I came to like by default as it was not as awful as the others) Elkie Brooks. I’d have killed for a bit of Supertramp.

  2. Boy, was it hot in the Summer! There were 3 ovens on the go in that room for hams and chickens and whatever….the big fridges did alleviate some of the suffering during those hot Summers of the 80’s….but the chilblains were a killer on my little hands….oooohhhh!!!

  3. THANKYOU!! Your story takes me right there to that place you were…Those kinds of shops are too quickly disappearing and keeping them alive, if only through memories, is priceless…and THANKYOU for bringing back one of my favorite albums of my earlier years…I saw these guys once in Victoria with Procol Harem backing them up….I had a roommate then who used to play Supertramp tunes on the piano early in the morning and this was one of them….cheers!

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