The autumn was also the time for the pig to be slaughtered for the winter. Jane was very soft-hearted and loved animals, but bacon was the mainstay of the winter diet on the farm, so she simply avoided the pig. But one summer day, she went past its sty and it was standing on hind legs, front trotters on the gate, and she couldn’t resist. She went over and scratched it behind the ears, gave it something to eat, talked to it … and she was scuppered. She couldn’t eat a mouthful of pork or bacon that winter. She said that she was starving, resorting to searching for berries and crabapples in the hedgerows. The farmer’s mother thought she was silly to be so sentimental, wouldn’t let her have anything as an alternative (I have no idea, you’d think that she’d be given extra potato and they’d be glad she wasn’t eating the meat as it’d be more for everyone else) and she went hungry.
She despised the black market, by the way. She swapped coupons – did you get coupons for cigarettes, or would it have been sweets? – with an old man for his clothing coupons, but she never had an illicit pair of stockings or even food. The Sage’s mother, with three young children, had a telephone code with a farmer friend when there was a little extra butter or a few eggs, but Jane wouldn’t have dreamed of it.