Oh my! Look at all the wonderful things to eat! - Tiny Tim
Forget Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, ice-skating at Somerset House and Les Misérables, the best London Christmas treat takes place in a meat market on Christmas Eve morning.
Every year, Harts Butchers of Smithfield put on an auction, open to anyone who hasn’t yet deserted the city to be back in the bosom of their families. For some, this is a family tradition, children being particularly useful for ferrying meat.
The caller knows how to work the crowd, there is an almighty cheer when proceedings begin with enormous turkeys and bodies surge forward. Notes are waved high in the air, passed to and fro, and the birds crowd surf their way back to the lucky recipients. This continues for the next hour, with frenzied shouts for loin and legs of lamb, pork bellies, fillet steaks the size of my head, smoked gammon and suckling pigs. Every once in a while, the caller will invite us to gamble. Heads or tails – lose and you pay extra, win and it’s yours for free. The crowd are jubilant every time someone wins.
Here, co-operation is the name of the game – money from the back might see six hands before it gets to the front, those with the advantage of height wave for short asses like myself, and louder folk bellow on behalf of the overlooked meek. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered quite so much Christmas feeling before.
Protected by Securimage