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Hemingway Adventure

Belgrade, Montana

Belgrade, Montana, USA 
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Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureThe phone goes, Jerome deals with it quickly and sympathetically and as he replaces the receiver jots a name down on a pad.

‘They’re bringing a mountain goat in at noon.’

Jerome, or Jerry as he asks us to call him, is clearly a busy man. He was himself a hunter who learned taxidermy at eighteen and has taught it all over the States.

He takes us through in to the workshop. The smell is bad, a mixture of the sickly sweetness of flesh and blood and the pungency of epoxy resin and spray paint. He’s currently working on a moose-head. In this confined space it looks enormous, like a small meteorite. He apologises for having to keep working as he talks and begins to brush the horns before spray-painting the nose and around the eyes with the care and delicacy of a make-up artist.

He takes pride in this part of the process and says, without apparent irony, ‘Sometimes we make the animals better than they were before.’

In another room off the back of the workshop is the rest of Jerry’s workforce. One man is carefully removing fur from a goat’s legs, another is making a pair of eyes to fit an antelope skin stretched tight on a polystyrene mould.

‘These will eventually pop out through the head,’ he explains, helpfully.

A young woman with tumbling curly hair sits and paints another mould, another plaits what looks like bison beard. A radio plays quietly. The atmosphere is serene and studious. They could be embroidering a tapestry or illuminating manuscripts. Only the lingering fetid smell and a containerful of skinned heads gives it away.
Belgrade, Montana, USA 
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Belgrade, Montana
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Belgrade, Montana
  • Book page no: 241

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