The London Review of Books are selectively dropping their firewall each pandemic day. They say ‘Diverted Traffic is a new LRB newsletter, featuring a different piece from the archive each day – chosen for its compulsive, immersive and escapist qualities, and also for a complete absence of references to plague, pandemics or quarantine.’
It was there that I recently read about pigs. No matter your view on swine, I think there’s very a very relatable quote from John Miles in 1834 retold by James Buchan in ‘My Hogs ‘ in 2001: “‘A couple of flitches’ – i.e. sides – ‘of bacon are worth fifty thousand Methodist sermons and religious tracts. The sight of them on the rack tends more to keep a man from poaching and stealing than whole volumes of penal statutes, though assisted by the terrors of the hulks and the gibbet.’“
Perhaps a modern flitch is the support governments should be making to keep the supporters of the institutions of state whole in a time of crisis. After all, those same institutions of state would call for you and yours to make the ultimate sacrifice when the philosophies of nations and would-be-nations clash. And they support themselves by tax-farming us like artiodactyls the rest of the time.
Assuming you believe will is free, I’m guessing that like me, you often forget the cost and obligations of free will. Are you prepared to suffer increased privation in the future if it eases all the burdens of ourselves and unknowable others today?
I also read in ‘My Hogs’ that the The Wiltshire Cure was pioneered by George Harris of Calne in 1864. I had no idea what the Wiltshire Cure was. But I know Calne. We have friends and family there. We’ve visited many, many times and never seen a pig. That’s because the Harris pork processing factory closed in the 1980’s. Sadly 20% of the Calne population lost their jobs and Calne has not been the same since. Our friends have told us about the huge numbers of pigs that used to come to Calne by train for slaughter and processing. But this only came up in conversation when I told them about the LRB article. Which is odd because about 15 years ago I brought them Irish pork products from Offaly where extended family had a pork business and an eye to expansion into the UK. And the irony of this only came to my attention today. It is said that the pork-curing industry developed in Calne because pigs reared in Ireland were landed at Bristol and then herded across England on drovers’ roads to London, passing through Calne. Odd topic this for a vegetarian.
New to me word pannage. Any idea? It’s the onetime pan-European practice of fattening pigs in forests where they ate whatever they could find. A benefit was that soil was kept broken and natural plant growth thus promoted. Rotovation in return for the privilege granted to farmers to free-range their pigs on common land or royal forests. Still happens in the New Forest in the UK apparently. Could there be an etymological link to dépannage troubleshooting in France?
‘Pigs’ was also the name of a 1984 movie, if not Orwellian, a modern and dystopian portrayal of Dublin as Dublin had not been shown before. It was directed by Cathal Black produced by David Collins and starred Johnny Murphy in a minor role. The late Murphy was one of the pivotal players as Johnny ‘The Lips’ Fagan, the unforgettable trumpet player in ‘The Committments’, another movie that showed a Dublin from a fresh perspective as directed by Alan Parker from the book written by Roddy Doyle. Sometimes random memories are sparked by words yet are without context and make no sense. There it is.
The weather held again today and I took the camera outside, restricting myself to a macro lens without tripod, seeking wabi sabi compositions.