It may happen to use the expression “pub animal” to describe a frequent visitor to this type of place, someone who loves – in addition to beer and peanuts – the atmosphere that is created between one drink and another.
The expression is certainly apt to describe Frances Bacon. Also because we are not talking about a person, but a piglet. A cross between a Gloucestershire Old Spots and a pot bellied pig, to be exact.
Frances is the pet pig of Ian and Vicky, the couple who run the Conquering Hero pub in south London. She is 12 years old and was adopted when she was just six weeks old. Ian grew up in California surrounded by pet pigs and wanted his children to experience the same.
Frances is a fixture in the pub. You will probably find it inside her, on the mat in front of the fireplace, ready to be pampered by the patrons.
Or outside on the hottest days. Enjoying his custom built pen. Or maybe trying to sneak into the kitchen from behind, since access from the internal door is prevented.
Frances is now of a certain age – even if she could easily live another 5-6 years – and therefore her movements have slowed down a bit. She can no longer go up to the first floor to sleep with her family, as she once did.
What might seem like a problem is actually an opportunity for the piggy: when the humans go to bed upstairs, she sneaks off to check if the kitchen door is left open. For the entertainment of the whole family, watching the scene from CCTV.
However, food is not a problem: those who come to have a beer at Conquering Hero often bring carrots or acorns. And then we’re in the pub, it’s unlikely that a few peanuts won’t fall on the floor…
The only thing that doesn’t add up is the choice of name. You pass by the assonance with the Irish painter Francis Bacon (who painted animals even though he wasn’t a great lover of them), but calling your domestic pig “Pancetta” is a beautiful and good provocation.
Knowing Ian and his family, however, we can rest assured that Frances will always be a part of the pub, but never of her recipes.