Friday, 12 March 2010

Charmed, I'm sure

Mrs Pig Farmer fixed me with a "what-the-bloody-hell's-he-on-about-now?" expression and said: "Come again?"

"Nobody says 'how do you do?' any more."

"You mean 'howdyado'?"

"No, the full 'how do you do?', preferably in the manner of a late 1940s British matinee, while raising a hat."

"You've got a hat."

"I don't think a grubby woollen hat counts. I was thinking more along the lines of a trilby. . . a tweedy one. . . who was it who wore one?. . . Harry Worth! I just think the world would be a better place if everyone said 'how do you do?' once in a while."

"Are you all right?"

"You mean, how am I doing?"

"Bugger off."

Radio 7 are rerunning an old Harry Worth series - sadly it hasn't aged well.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The pig masseur

Pete the pig let out a sigh of contentment, let his back legs slowly sag and lowered himself into a sitting position - on my left foot.

I wondered whether to stop scratching his back, but it was kind of peaceful. Westray was bathed in warm sunlight, birds were singing, daffodil heads showing for the first time, the sea looking good enough to swim in.

So, ignoring the numbness creeping around my left toes, I gave him a tickle behind the ears and, as he rolled over onto his side, a good rub on his belly. I've never had a proper professional massage, but I like to imagine the bloke's version (Turkish? Finnish?) is a bit like going to an old-fashioned barber.

"And how would sir like it today?"


"No problem, did you see the football last night?"

Or something like that.

Pete finally got up and I led him back into the main pigshed where he was reunited with his brothers. I was supposed to be sorting the lads out with the biggest three due to go for slaughter today. It wasn't at all easy with quite a bit of scrapping going on, while Haka tried to mount everything as if the future of the species depended on it.

Pete was easily the biggest, but he was also the quietest and most easy-going, making no attempt to molest his brothers and generally minding his own business.

Trying hard to ignore the alarming sight of Haka with a whopping great erection heading for me, I lifted the barrier, shook the feed bucket and got Giorgios, Boss Junior and Haka (a late replacement for Pete) through, quickly slamming the barrier down to stop Pete and Tip following.

A little feed on the trailer ramp got the lads heading in the right direction, but Haka had a sudden change of mind, decided he needed to give Pete another seeing-to and jumped the wall back into the pen, getting stuck halfway.

The pig farmer made a grab for his back legs and got a handful of tail, at least I hope it was tail - he didn't squeak anyway. And there we were, a pig balanced on the wall and a pig farmer with not enough grip to pull him back. After a few quiet moments, I let go and he scrambled back over.

A little later I repeated the process, this time making sure I was behind Haka, gently shoving him onto the trailer in a "pig farmer ain't gonna take that kind of crap again" way.

Back in the shed, Pete was snuffling through some cabbage leaves, blissfully unaware how a little bonding over a back-rub had earned him an extra month.