WE HAVE SWINE
In this country of mud, built on mounds of earth in the estuary of the large rivers that flowed down from the mountains of Europe to hurl themselves onto the mire here, we found ourselves in a land of plenty straight after the war. Following deprivation and hardship, this is where we ended up in this distant future. Now we find ourselves under a mountain of meat, meat from pigs, those omnivorous animals. For the sake of ease it is, of course, hanging above our heads to dry. It was Henry IV, King of France, who decreed four hundred years ago that every one of the subjects in his kingdom should eat chicken on Sundays. But this proved to be wishful thinking, an ambition that aimed too high. We had to wait another five centuries for it to be achieved. And then there was the French queen Marie-Antoinette who, when told that her people had no bread, said that in that case they should eat cake. That was a bit silly of the girl because the people not only didn’t have any bread, they didn’t have any cake either and they certainly didn’t have any swine. But today those problems have finally been taken care of. We chopped the heads off the aristocracy and the people seized power. The only true need was finally met: to fill people’s stomachs, after which all the rest would follow as a matter of course. We have swine. That’s what they say in Germany, Du hast Schwein!, when they mean that someone is lucky. Nothing can stop us in our search for happiness and love. In olden days we didn’t have time for that. The main concern was “Are there any swine?” Now the answer to this compelling question is “Yes, guys, there are swine, more than enough, piles and piles of swine.” To be honest, there are too many to get through and some of us already had indigestion from all those swine. Yet there was one little boy, let’s call him Little Fox, who didn’t like swine. His father was the last smallholder in Flanders and father and mother and the seven children lived by the canal, where father worked in the dirty factory and bred swine in his barn at home, which he slaughtered in November and the hams were roasted and hung from the rafters in the outbuilding. But Little Fox didn’t like that ham, and do you know why? It was the same ham every day, peasant’s ham, and Little Fox was of the opinion that he had been born for better things than that. Do you know what he did like? At his neighbour’s house Ronny’s mother made spaghetti sauce from a tin. Little Fox thought that was the best food on earth. The kind she made was advertised on TV and that spaghetti at Ronny’s house tasted as delicious as it had looked in those wonderful images and that swine on the hook made Little Fox feel a bit sad and he really wished he weren’t the son of the people by the canal.