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  • While the rest of Norfolk slept, we lined up alongside conveyor belts, catching chickens, trussing them up, throwing them in foil trays with a sprig of rosemary for the desperate housewives of Norwich to roast for Sunday lunch.

    On a good night, you'd be put at the end of the line. The chickens came to you already trussed, seasoned, packed and sealed, and you were the lucky one who got to spend 10 hours putting the 2-for-1 Sainsbury sticker on the box. On a bad night, you'd be at the beginning. The unlucky one who stood next to the 80 litre bucket of goo with a syringe, the one who got to spend your 10 hours weighing the birds and injecting the underweight ones – which was most of them.

    Wherever you were in the line though, you spent your 10 hours in cold storage, wearing an incredibly sexy plastic outfit over layers of leggings and vests and tracksuits. Every couple of hours we'd get a break. We'd trudge off to the canteen and share plates of chips drizzled with sachets of mayonnaise and black pepper at 3am. Late mornings were always the worst; those hours winding up to lunchtime for the rest of the world, down to dinner and home time for us.

    We were the contract workers. Travellers, backpackers, students, gap year foreigners who worked just long enough to be able to fund the next trip to Greece or Spain or India. I shared most of my plates of soggy chips with a New Zealander; occasionally the Australian girls would join us. We complained about the work, but never in earnest because for all of us it was a temporary gig. The rest of the chicken factory's staff was permanent. It was 2003, and almost all of them were Kurdish men who had fled Iran or Iraq, seeking jobs and asylum. We backpackers were happy to work on Sundays because it meant double pay, and double pay meant an extra beer in Prague. For them it was a visa, a plane ticket, a life in England for their family still in Iran.

    And for everyone eating their Sunday lunch, it was just chicken.
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