I am queuing at my nearest out-of-town supermarket when an unpleasant scene
begins to develop. Three shop assistants haul a muscular but dead young
bullock out from behind the translucent flaps that guard the inner sanctum of
the store, and lay it on the tiles in the tights, socks, and toothcare aisle.
Another assistant emerges with several large knives, and the four of them stand
around the carcass as if awaiting silent instructions. As one, they flash
their knives and one of them makes a large cut in the hide of the bullock.
Another slices deftly at the neck area, while the third and fourth make
incisions around the jaw. The two assistants nearest the head lay their now
bloody knives on the clean tiles, and, with visible effort, insert their
fingers into the gashes they have just made. They begin to pull at the thick,
hairy skin of the bullock, tugging hard until the flesh begins to pinkly
emerge. They pull and pull, and the hide slides back over the jaw. As the
skin comes back, to my horror, the bullock's eyes begin to flicker. At the
moment the hide rips back over the eyes, they widen, and the bullock staggers
to its feet. The assistant pull harder and harder, but the bullock charges
away towards the delicatessen counter, its face flapping wildly around its
flayed skull. I am close to fainting, although I cannot, as I have been
queuing at the checkout for what seems like an age. At last, my items are
scanned and I pay for them, my Visa card shaking in my hand.