This is the fifth in a series of interviews from MEMORANDUM, a collaborative journal celebrating craft, community and nature. This week Harriet Walker speaks to Charlie Shaw, Butcher.
Charlie Shaw isn’t like the red-faced, village butchers of old. He’s jolly, yes, but he’s also 29, a bit of a hipster and his shop Flock and Herd is on Peckham’s trendy Bellenden Road in South-East London. “When I used to tell people I was a butcher, they’d react like it wasn’t a great thing,” he says, “but now they respect me for doing a craft.”
And it’s true. Shaw completes a process as much as any artist or artisan does, from beginning to end, working with his hands and the sharp blades of his tools.
“Ages ago I chopped my finger badly and I couldn’t do anything,” he says. “It’s like a pencil to an artist or whatever- co-ordination between your eyes and your hands is crucial.”
Crucial too is the recognition of provenance. This is at the heart of Shaw’s job, authenitcating the meat he sells and presenting himself as the link between it and his customers.
“We speak to the abattoirs on a weekly basis,” he says. ” It’s all part of it and you’ve got to see it. But it’s done quickly and humanely. And we get quality by building relationships with our suppliers.”
“We can serve the lollipop lady up the road a load of chicken carcasses or we’ll serve somebody who’s a multimillionaire and lives abroad for tax reasons. It doesn’t bother me, as long as theyre polite and engaged.”
It does bother his girlfriend though. “Sometimes I go home and she says, ‘ Ooh you smell really meaty.’ And I won’t have done anything different
“I always wash my hands after a shift.”
Interview by Harriet Walker
Photography by Tess Hurrel