North London's Cultural Guide

Life Tips #22: Paul Langley, Cramer’s Butcher, York Way

'At Christmas time I'd have my head stuck in all the guts. Sometimes even in the gut bin upside down, legs poking out'

'If someone hasn't been in, you should think, "Where is she? Is she alright?"' Photo by Karrie Kehoe
‘If someone hasn’t been in, you should think, “Where is she? Is she alright?”‘ Photo by Karrie Kehoe

1. A chicken does actually come from an egg. Not wrapped in plastic bag from Tescos, like a lot of people think. Back in the day they all came outdoor-reared with the guts, head and feet. We’d clean them and take the innards out; the customers knew that then.

2. Watch out for the knives. You can really cut yourself, but it’s an occupational hazard. I stuck a knife right through my arm when I was cutting a pig one winter. I was on my own, so taped it up but it bled so badly I had to put another coat on, and then tape up the sleeve to stop the blood from pouring out. You can wear the chain-mail, of course, but I prefer to take the risk.

3. Why kill for sport? I have never gone shooting but I’ve been out with the dogs once or twice rabbiting. It was a clean kill but I didn’t like the fear in the animal’s eyes, it’s not right.

4. How do people afford to live in north London? I’ve been around here my whole life – born on Liverpool road, brought up in Kings Cross, went to Acland Burghley school in Tufnell Park. But I couldn’t afford to stay after 25 and had to move out. It just got too expensive. A great area, though, it’s become really multicultural.


5. You can’t be squeamish. When I was 6 or 7 I used to go to the butchers my aunt worked in; the blood never bothered me. I’d sit up on the counter and be cutting the paper to wrap the meat. Then I started here when I was thirteen and would cut the flesh after school. At Christmas time I’d have my head stuck in all the guts. Sometimes even in the gut bin upside down, legs poking out.

6. Sell whatever people want. People come up here for the obscure things you can’t get in supermarkets. We sell tongue to tail. Obviously you can’t eat every part of the animal but there wouldn’t be a part of the beef we can’t get. Brain, lamb’s hearts, whatever, it’s not strange or unusual. You just take the pipes out, stuff them, roast them – and you wouldn’t know that from a leg of lamb. It’s only a muscle.

7. If someone hasn’t been in, you should think, ‘Where is she? Is she alright?’ You get to know your customers, they’re part of the community. And we help the older people; we know the ones that supermarkets don’t want because they don’t spend enough. After all, everyone likes a chat and a friendly face.

Find Cramer’s at 392 York Way N7.

2 thoughts on “Life Tips #22: Paul Langley, Cramer’s Butcher, York Way”

  1. I’m super-squeamish but there is no denying this is a great butcher, worth making the trek from Kentish Town, and double worth it if you
    go to Austin Flowers next door for the most perfect fruit and veg.

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