When I was a very young boy, pre-school, the highlight of my visits to my grandfather’s house in
He was invariably called Percy. He always loved to have his ear scratched. I don’t know how many different Percy ears I scratched as a boy, but several. My granddad would stand me on the pigsty wall so that I could watch him eat his turnips, mangel wurzels, and kitchen scraps all mixed together in a swill. Pigs were cheap to keep, a recycling machine, and at the end of it provided such good meals throughout the winter.
Black pudding, brawn, pickled trotters, crispy scratchings; none of the Percy was wasted - my grandmother, a trained cook, made sure of that.
Then one day when I visited there was no Percy. His sty was vacant, his metal trough empty - my granddad couldn’t get a licence.
The authorities, not content with stopping home slaughter years before, now required ‘home’ pig owners to buy a licence and undertake regular inspections before they could keep a pig at home. They claimed that it was about hygiene standards, food regulations, the welfare of the pig – but it put a stop to home rearing, something that had gone on for hundreds of years.
Visiting granddad wasn’t the same after that. Percy’s sty remained empty, the kitchen scraps went in the bin. Thank God my grandmother kept chickens.