Sunday, 14 August 2011
This waterlily in my pond is shown in loving memory of a dear, clever friend with whom I had a tremendous relationship many years ago. The memory is triggered by the latest post from my nephew 'pohanginapete' who so often proves inspirational from whichever corner of the earth he happens to be. The glazed smile on the face of the glistening pig in his photograph put me so much in mind of my dear Piggo that I had to go and sit by the pond for a little quiet contemplation.
Piggo came to me as a gift from a farmer friend. He (the piglet) was the bullied runt of the litter and was not expected to survive en famille so moved in with me. I was teaching small children in a slightly unorthodox situation (weren't they all in pre-OFSTED days?) and we all thought this could be an educational opportunity for pigs and people.
Within days Piggo proved himself to be the ideal pupil. He snoozed loudly in a box under the table until it was milk-time (yes, small children had free milk at school in little bottles with straws) when he would trot out for milk, biscuits, a few pig-nuts and a scamper round outside. The process was repeated at lunchtime and mid- afternoon break, and then he would clamber into the back of the car and come home for a good meal and a bit of television.
More easily trained and cleaner than a dog, Piggo had few bad points. Short-sightedness went against him. He loved television but liked to sit within a few inches of the screen, so that it was difficult for anyone else to see. He loved the car, but again short-sight meant his snout was constantly against the window, which became a little smeary. Well very smeary, actually.
He loved routine, and in a school situation this was ideal, but weekends were boring for him without the regular interjections of milk and snacks. He pattered about on his little sharp trotters, looking for biscuits and would dig in the garden in an attempt to find them.
Sadly yet predictably, his downfall was his growth rate. On a regular diet and generally enjoyable regime, with both mental and physical stimulation, he grew at a prodigious rate.
He went back to the farm. He probably did not know he was a pig at that stage, although I'm sure the realisation came when he met the family again. My farmer friend was particularly compassionate, at least as far as I knew. Piggo continued to watch television, and retained his enthusiasm for car travel. If anyone left a car door open in the farmyard they would find Piggo in a passenger seat. The way to get him out was to turn on the television in the farm house.
I did not want to know of his ultimate end, but like at least some of the pigs in Ecuador, his early life was full of cheerful interaction and piggish enjoyment.