Berkshire pig, Blandings, chitterling, choir stall, Common Entrance, Compline, Earl of Emsworth, Evensong, faggots, Farmers' Markets, Happy Hour, husbandry, Master Butcher, Middle White pig, misericords, non-sequitur, P G Wodehouse, pig-hoo-o-o-oey!, Pigling Bland, pizzle, pork scratchings, The Emperor, Thomas Hardy, Timothy Spall, Vietnamese Pot-Bellied pig
Great-Aunt Augusta was thrilled: she placed the photograph of her namesake
in its silver frame on her bedside table, beside her bottle of Dewlap Gin for the
She had always meant to write to the company to protest that elderly maiden
aunts also appreciated the tipple, but she was too pre-occupied in imbibing its
mellow liquefaction to bother with the correctness of its appellation.
She didn’t mind at all that Murgatroyd had named his new porker after her.
Like the ninth Earl of Emsworth, Lord Clarence, Syylk had just taken charge of
a wonderful Berkshire sow, or it had taken charge of him. Owing to some
marked physiognomical resemblances and similar traits of flightiness, he had
awarded his summer guest the accolade and honour of having her Christian
name bestowed on the worthy animal. And, having no natural offspring of her
own, she anticipated the birth of piglets with as much eagerness as she looked
forward to Happy Hour at Snodland Nursing Home for the Debased Gentry.
Augustus Snodbury, her adopted nephew, was less impressed. In fact, he
considered it an impertinence. He expressed as much to Virginia, the School
Secretary and his daughter in the new canteen-style, Hugo Frondly-
Whittingsty’s informal eatery.
Virginia had persuaded father and daughter to come out on a Friday evening
as the interminable term was leaching their zest for life.
Drusilla was tucking into some parsnip shavings and multi-coloured beets;
Gus was demolishing some moist roast gammon.
Dad! You’ll never guess what?!
Gus continued to trough and grunted like a pig in clover, or Timothy Spall
in a Margate boarding house.
He knew she would tell him anyway.
You know Murgatroyd’s sow…?
Augusta? replied Virginia, though no one had addressed her.
Gus threw her a warning look- the one he utilised for The
Lower School and which had caused some chitterlings as they
were called to blub, or wet their shorts.
Virginia was made of sterner stuff. She was interested in all
varieties of husbandry.
Yes, answered Dru. Except that the vet came round yesterday
and re-sexed it. So, you know what I’m going to say…?!
Don’t! spluttered Gus, choking on a morsel of rind. He was
outraged at the thought of the name being transferred into its
It won’t be having piglings bland, or even piglets Blandings,
continued Dru. It has a pizzle. Wonderful Thomas Hardy word
that! Anyway, they’re calling him The Emperor instead, with a nod
to P G Wodehouse, or Beethoven. Great-Aunt will be disappointed,
but a few gins should dull her disappointment.
It should have been a Middle White if they were referring to the
latest tv series, Virginia added. Then, as a non-sequitur, she
said meditatively, Pigs can be very intelligent, you know. A neighbour
of mine once had a Vietnamese Pot-Bellied variety and we used to keep
our veggie peelings in a swill bin for it.
She tried to avert her gaze from Gus’ midriff.
They’re probably brighter than some of the young porkers I have in
my Common Entrance group, scowled Gus. I’d rather have one than
a silly toy dog. He brightened up.
What are you thinking about, Father? Dru could tell he was about to
share some porcine anecdote.
Oh, just The Very Rev. Wykeham Beaufort. He was the School Chaplain
when I was a chitterling myself. He used to walk through The Cathedral Close
to Evensong with his pet pig on a string. It used to enjoy a pint of Hogsback
with him after Compline. Fully House-of-God trained, it was. Used to lie
continently in the choir stalls, under the misericords, but The Dean
excommunicated it and forbade it entry after one Advent, when it made
itself comfortable in the crib’s straw. You can see its portrait on its
But why is Murgatroyd raising a pig? Virginia asked.
He is building a smoke-house and has consulted with a Master Butcher.
He’s going to produce quality meat products, once his breeding programme
gets under way.
Sausages? Gus perked up considerably.
Yes. He and Mum intend to take a stall at some Farmers’ Markets.
He’s not so dense after all, approved her father. Well, who would have
thought it? Pigs might fly yet!
And he shovelled a forkful of pork scratchings into his capacious mouth.
Next to faggots, sausages were his favourites.
He must take a trip north very soon.