Turkey producer dies on Turkey Day

Any Turkeys who have managed to take time out of doing what ever it is that turkeys do and have learnt how to read, will note with interest the sad demise of Bernard Matthews – Europe’s largest Turkey producer – on Thanksgiving day, also called turkey day.

And when I say ‘Turkey producer,’ I of course do not mean to imply that Matthews actually produced the turkeys. (You are a turkey for not knowing that turkeys are produced by other turkeys, which are produced by other turkeys, which are .. Oh get on and read the post!)

The fact is that in 1950 Matthews founded Bernard Matthews Farms Ltd – a British farming and food products business, which specialises in the farming of turkeys.

It will be of interest to turkeys and others that Matthews started his business from scratch. (Very possibly literally, considering the involvement of fowls!) He left school at the tender age of sixteen (which reinforces my personal belief that my own career was irrevocably damaged when my dad insisted that I go to college) and started a business.

Chroniclers say that Matthews had just 20 turkey eggs and a small paraffin oil-heated incubator when he started out. I, however, strongly suspect that this might not be wholly true. I mean, it stands to reason he could not have started out with just the eggs and the incubator…he must also have had a lot of bird feed stashed away somewhere.

In any case, it was not long before Matthew’s turkey business took wings. ( not literally you duffer!) In just four weeks time, Matthew, who had invested the equivalent of £2.50 in the business was able to sell off the birds for £9, an impressive return on investment of 260 percent! ( which leads me to question the acumen of my personal investment manager who has an MBA and still cannot guarantee those kind of returns.)

And the rest, as they say, is history. (Certainly millions of turkeys are!)

Of course, the business had its own ups and downs. In 2006 two contract workers at Matthews’ farm were convicted for – hold your breath – playing baseball with live turkeys!

Matthews, however, did take a deep personal interest in his business and was known to taste as many as 30 different products in one session of testing at one of his food labs.

He is known to have said, “You really have to like turkey to do this job.” (Being a non-vegetarian, might also help, if I may add.)

Matthews, a staunch fellow of the old school, did not have any scruples about taking work home. In fact with the exception of his bedroom, he turned his whole house into a turkey farm. The bedroom being spared, is pretty understandable. After all, having a dozen turkeys craning their necks and watching your every move is quite the mood killer.

On this day I join everyone and some turkeys in sincerely praying that Bernard Matthew’s soul rests in peace. In any case, we can be assured that …

…if there is such place like heaven and
… if Matthews makes it there, and
… if we are good people and go to heaven too…
… whatever else is, or is not there in heaven …
… there will most certainly be turkey sandwich in heaven!

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