Saturday, 8 November 2008

Harley Davidson purple washing machine

Listening to: Riverflow (The Levellers)

Marcus is at the front door with bad news.

"Someone's complained about your pigs. I've heard you've been reported for animal cruelty."

I stand, open-mouthed, wondering if this is a joke, but Marcus is deadly serious.

"Who, what, when, how?" I splutter.

"I don't know, but I was told last night and I thought you should hear it. I'm sure it's nobody from the island because there's nothing wrong with the pigs and people here would know that."

I can feel the rage rising, almost choking my words. The paddocks in the bottom field are wet and muddy, but the pig shelters are dry and there's fresh bedding every day. The pigs are fed and watered twice a day and get their fair share of ear-scratches and back rubs.

"Are you sure there's nothing wrong," I ask, confidence crumbling.

"No, you're looking after them fine. Just wait for the inspector to get in touch and deal with it then. It'll be all right."

Marcus leaves and I try to keep a lid on my feelings. I can't remember being so angry. I'm hurt, uncertain and a bit paranoid.

A call to Sal calms me a little and I decide to meet the problem head on. I phone Animal Health in Inverurie, The SSPCA and the environmental health department at the council. All are pleased to hear from me, but none have heard even a whisper of complaint. The whole business takes about three hours.

Mystified, I go and adjust the paddocks in the bottom field - no harm in giving everyone there a bit more space. Then I go to reassure Marcus, who had looked worried at being the bearer of bad tidings.

I suppose I'll never work out what happened and, a few days later, I'm not worried. Chinese whispers maybe, someone getting the wrong end of the stick. It's probably wise to treat it as a kick up the backside, something to keep me on my toes and prevent me from getting complacent.

POSTSCRIPT: I don't want anyone to get the impression that this was anything other than a temporary upset. I'm now absolutely convinced it's a misunderstanding and the number of people on and off Westray who have heard about it and said nice things since has been heart-warming. Thanks.


us lot!! said...

hi, i live on a small island in shetland and i was told someone had reported me for stealing peats!!!i felt the same as you ,very paronoid to say the least.It turns out they were talking about someone else but it made me mad as year on it's a running joke with us all and i too can see the funny side.don't worry...they will be talking about someone else soon.I guess that's small islands for

Lindsay said...

We were once accused (anonimously) of burning horse bedding - the council had received a letter and therefore paid us a visit, again anonimously, tramping over our property with no invitation. We felt the same as you, but soon forgot about it as we were not guilty!

Ginni said...

Oh Malc! I can imagine how you must have felt. I would have been livid! I hope you get to the bottom of it all.

Anonymous said...

I think you dealt with it in the best way - nipping it in the bud and getting as much info as possible.
I have a horror of unjust accusations so heart was in mouth when I read this.
Supportive waves from far away.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

well having just read your previous blogs I reckon its a fellow blogger! one cannot advertise cracking one's best friend across the yed with a Bishops Castle hammer (4x2) and expect to remain un talked about! Take no notice - we've had environmental health on the doorstep before now - all thanks to a disgruntled jealous neighbour!

Dave said...

Eat the evidence now.

Cathy said...

Hello Malc
Surely you've heard the expression:-.........
You can't please everybody all of the time - you can only please some of them some of the time.
Obviously someone who'se turn it wasn't, wasn't very happy lol
Take care

I, like the view said...


people who have little better to do with their time, eh

as you say, and as your good friend Marcus pointed out, anyone who knows knows the good job you do

and how irritating to have to waste your precious time sorting it out


it's just one of those moments, probably the sort you hoped to leave behind on the mainland. . .

but, as you so sensibly point out, it's always good to have a bit of a check on things (however this is prompted); and you - I hope - are reassured, as you knew anyway, that you're doing a good job

an excellent one

hugs, malc

Yorkshire Pudding said...

You've not been having pig races have you? A "Saddleback" is not for riding in spite of its inviting name.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry as the compliant was becaues the pigs are mothered. As I have seen my future dinners rollocking round in the mud fully enjoying themselves.

Inwardly Confused said...

OoooOO Malc , hope it all get sorted out, nosy meddling gits!

ziggi said...

It was probably Molly complaining about the length of time it's taken you to find her a fella!

Malc said...


A few days has helped me look at the whole thing quite differently. And everyone I've spoken to on the island has been very supportive.


I was very encouraged by the reaction of the officials I contacted - very helpful.


As I said in the postscript, I really think it was a misunderstanding.


Yep, for once I think I did the right thing. Thanks for the waves.


It was suggested that jealousy was behind it, but I hope that's not the case.


With a tanker-load of apple sauce and a JCB scoop of stuffing.


As Sally said to me - everyone whose opinion we value (and that's quite a lot of folk in Westray) knows there's nothing in it.


I've learned there's no way you can escape everything all the time, just most things most of the time.
Hugs back.


Hang on, you've given me an idea.


Are you suggesting I'm too soft!


I said that too - amongst other things.


That particular problem is now sorted, as the next post will reveal.