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Live At Cow Palace

by six by seven

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Death, Walk With Me I work in a slaughterhouse. It’s a job, okay. I need to eat, you need to eat and the public likes to eat meat. Where do you think all that meat comes from? It took a bit of getting used to – the smell I mean. All that shit, guts, piss and blood makes a real stink. It hits you in the face like a punch. Once I’d got used to that though, I could go in just fine. One of my jobs is to stun the cows before they get strung up and butchered. I’m good and I’m quick. I once saw a guy try and stun a one-ton heifer and he rushed it. When the heifer was being hooked up for the butchering it kicked out in blind panic and hit him in the groin. He was off work for a week. Everything in the slaughterhouse is done on a production line: one person bleeds the cow, another person guts it, and another saws it up into parts. Someone told me Henry Ford got his idea of a car production line from visiting a slaughterhouse. He saw how the animal was made up of different parts and how each worker got expert at removing it as the carcass moved along. He just reversed the process, assembling instead of disassembling. He was clever, that Henry Ford. No one really talks much at work. Some of it’s because a lot of the workers are foreign and don’t speak much English. There’s a lot of noise too – some of the animals sense what’s going on and panic before they get to the stun pen. The panic seems to spread to the workers like a fire. It’s an unwelcome reminder that killing is what they do. So a lot of it is to do with front. You have to pretend you’re not affected by the killing. You pretend you can cope. They can’t of course – I can see it in their eyes. They’re like the cows’ eyes when they first come into the shed – full of fear and panic and bewilderment. The unsuitable workers don’t last more than a few hours before they quit. A lot will try and tough it out but it’s not long before one of them cracks up. There was this one time I stunned a fat cow and when it had been hooked up for butchering this young lad sliced it open and a foetus fell out. It was still alive, twitching and jerking in the bright light. Well this kid just lost it. He started waving his arms about and shouting hysterically – ‘what the fuck! What the fuck!’ The supervisor came out and took him off to the office. That’s where people go when they need to calm down. The kid had to take the rest of the day off but when he came back the next day I could see the change in him. His face was harder and his eyes had that, it’s not real aspect to them. I could tell he wasn’t going to last much longer. People come and go all the time in this place; it’s relentless. Everywhere you look, it’s just death. And sometimes, death stares back. The worst place is the head skip. Everyone avoids it if they can. It’s a skip where all the cows’ heads end up. They’ve been flayed of all the usable meat and what’s left is all the stuff that no one wants – the bone, gristle and sinews. And the eyes. They’re still in the heads, staring out at anyone passing by. Some of the workers act all guilty when they walk past and can’t look at them. I find it funny watching the way people react to the skip the first time they see it – both the cows and humans look at each other with wide-eyed expressions of horror. For most people, working here is like walking a tightrope – you have to keep your concentration. You have to keep reminding yourself the animals are just pieces of meat. One time, during an outbreak of TB, we had to slaughter three calves. They were too small to fit into the stun pen so we had to spend a few minutes figuring out what to do. The calves, being so young, didn’t know any better so wandered around the place all curious and sniffing at things. Some of the workers were taken by surprise. They stopped concentrating. They petted them and the calves responded by trying to suckle their dirty fingers. Then the foreman said put them in the stun pen all together and do the best you can. So we killed them. It was messy. It broke some of the workers who petted them. They fell off the tightrope. I could see it. One of those workers was Jimmy. He started about the same time as me. He threw up on his first day. The stink is really brutal and then you see your first animal die in front of you – it’s a hard business for most people. Anyway, after the calves incident Jimmy put on a brave face and stuck it out. He had to; he had a wife and new baby at home. He kept talking about not being here for much longer. Everyone thought he was talking about getting another job but I saw it, I knew what he meant. Sure enough, a few weeks later, he topped himself. I wondered about that. I wondered if being surrounded by death all day made you think it was some kind of companion and suicide was just another friend. Or maybe this place attracts people who have the urge to self-destruct? Not me though. I don’t mind it here. I’m one of the longest serving workers. I sometimes wonder if people would die in the same way as the animals? It would be interesting to find out.
Gutter Fuck 03:56
Don't You... 04:34
Back To You 04:30
Move Away 03:29
She’d recently discovered colouring books as a form of relaxation. It wasn’t too demanding, unlike trying to learn an instrument, say, which she’d tried to do; that involved hours of repetition and often became frustrating. Colouring in gave her an immediate sense of achievement although, sometimes, she chose the wrong colours and a picture didn’t look right when it was finished. She pulled out her latest colouring book dedicated to flower patterns and flicked through the pages of previously coloured illustrations until she arrived at the next design. It was an outline of orchids with twirling tendrils and ragged-edged leaves. The intense black lines crisply broke up the white paper into intricate shapes. She chose her first colour – a flaming scarlet and rested the tip of the crayon as close to the black line as she could. She was careful not to interfere with the blackness of the printed ink and stroked the paper with the crayon following the direction of the bounding line. Her mind went on a journey through verdant jungle filled with the sounds of insects, birds and howling monkeys. Her phone beeped. She was annoyed with herself because she’d forgotten to turn it off before she started drawing - she didn’t like her concentration broken. She picked it up to turn it off but then thought, as she had it open she’d check the notification. Her counselor had advised her to limit the time she spent on social media; she’d explained its stated intention is to get people addicted. It sells advertising so it needs as many eyeballs on the platform as possible. Twitter was especially bad as it got rid of nuanced argument to keep things simple. This quickly made people angry and tribal and addicted to arguing. She’d seen it for herself – arguments always ending with Nazi comparisons being thrown around. Her account was now protected, even so, she frequently had to block responses. She tried to limit her time on social media but the providers were worse than the tobacco industry when it came to doing anything about the problem or even admitting their role in its spread. She snorted as she recalled their double standards. At first, they were like, we’re not publishers so whatever someone posts is nothing to do with us. Then people started complaining about some of the content so the providers started acting like renegade policemen arresting accounts for violations of rules they arbitrarily came up with. She suspected social media was grooming her; making her behave in a particular way that made it money. She forced herself to switch off her phone. She was agitated by the thought of social media though and when she tried to resume her colouring she found her hand trembling slightly. Some of her stokes couldn’t keep perfectly within the lines. She gave up on the colouring and decided to drive to the city to do some shopping. She didn’t have anything in particular that she needed but she figured if she saw something she liked on a shelf or on a hanger she might feel better once she’d bought it. But before she could go out the door, she had to think about her make-up: how attractive should she make herself look? All sorts of decisions had to be made: how important was the trip? Who might she meet in the city? How might that impact on her career if she did meet x, y or z? What would her girlfriends think of her if she didn’t make the effort? Eventually she decided just mascara would be adequate. On the main road into the city she debated the rule of always staying on the left-hand side of the carriageway. Most people never thought about it but since she’d become conscious of it she’d become fixated by the rule. She now had a regular impulse to swerve into oncoming traffic. At first this made her fearful to drive but she taught herself that she had the self-control to fight it. After parking she walked into the shiny new shopping plaza with its bright lights, echoing clatter of muzak, footsteps and voices and she felt her heart rate leap. Her chest tightened and she immediately had a premonition of doom. She walked in slow motion before stopping near a marble bench. She sat down. Her mind and body started finding weird colours and scribbling them all over her lines of safety. As she sat perfectly still, her breathing increased in frequency to match her heart rate. She felt hot and beads of sweat appeared on her forehead. She was terrified she was going to end up screaming at the top of her voice in this public space – a lost and lonely soul bewildered by the world. She became dimly aware of a voice near her, a motherly voice. It was speaking to her: ‘Are you all right, love? Are you not feeling well?’ The voice belonged to someone with shoulder length grey hair who was dressed in clothes that were smart but several seasons out of fashion. The woman sat down next to her. ‘Do you need some help, darling? You’re having a panic attack, aren’t you. I’m going to help you. Hold on.’ The woman stood up and walked briskly towards a black security guard who became alert at the possibility of having something interesting to do. She spoke to him and he got on his walkie-talkie. The woman sat down again. ‘It’s all right dear; you’re going to be okay. My daughter gets panic attacks, I know what to do.’ She took her hand and patted it. ‘Now, I want you to breathe with me, okay darling. I’ll match your rhythm and then I want you to follow my breathing, follow it as closely as you can. Here we go.’ Obediently she followed the instructions of the woman who never stopped talking to her in a gentle, calm voice. ‘You’re going to be okay, this will pass, it always does, don’t worry, you’re in safe hands now. We’re going to slow our breathing down.’ Gradually, a thought like a fully coloured-in picture entered her head : there’s kindness in the world. Kindness was saving her today and she realized how much raw power basic human kindness has. Maybe, she thought, it was strong enough that one day it could come together and change the world for good.
Side A (Sex) 23:28


Download includes both CD's. Please note CD 2 is hidden from streaming and is 2 bonus tracks. Both albums recorded at Rockfield.


released January 14, 2022

Recorded at Rockfield Studios
Produced by Chris Olley and Jack Boston
Engineered by Jack Boston
Vocals and Guitar Chris Olley
Drums by Charlie
Piano on track 2 by Dr. Ken K. Ward
All Words and Music by Chris Olley
Except track 1 & 13, Vocals by Gentle Ihors Devotion
Words Ihor Tymchak
Artwork: Daron Parton

Please buy Ivor Tymchaks Sex And Death book of short stories:



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