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March 2007 - Happy as a Pig in Muck

I most definitely am not going to be either the first or the last person to observe that the phrase in the title, up above, has little or nothing to do with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Why, I have to wonder, does the world seem to have always had this total misapprehension that our dear friends, the pigs, enjoy life in an environment which is dirtier than the average?

That question may, or indeed, may not, be answered in this month's exciting edition of Nick Harvey's Comment, so why not stick around in order to find out?

Looking back over the long list of past (or ought that to be passed) Comments which adorns my office wall, I note that we don't appear to have done pigs before.  A somewhat unexpected omission, I must say.

We've got fairly close, on numerous occasions, with various other beasts of both the domestic and farmyard varieties, but never the humble pig, by the look of it.

I wonder why it is that Mr Percy Porker and his family have, thus far, been keeping their heads down and out of the piercing gaze of my good self?  It's obviously because of their clean living habits that I've missed any mention of them up to now.

We must put that right, then, at this very moment.  So welcome along to the tale (or ought that to be tail) of the two, or possibly more, little piggies.

You see, I had occasion, the other day, to be driving up the Wylye Valley, from Salisbury towards Warminster, had chosen to avoid the somewhat congested A36 and was taking the scenic route, parallel with the main road and through all the lovely little villages.

There are the best part of a dozen picturesque places on this scenic route, with some delightful names, such as Hanging Langford and Sherington, to name just a couple.

I really must take time out to investigate the origin of the name Hanging Langford one day.  Was there once a Mr Langford, I wonder, who was found guilty of some dastardly deed and then sentenced to decapitation in the village many eons ago?

Or is it as simple as the village being on the side of a hill and hanging on for grim death in case it suddenly slides down into the valley below?

That, second, suggestion does actually fail miserably on the grounds that the preceding village as you head in a north-westerly direction, Steeple Langford, is on a far steeper bit of the hill.

Which, of course, begs the other question, of whether the name Steeple Langford comes quite simply from the village having a church with a steeple, or that it's the village on the steeper part of the hillside?

I feel the answers to these questions are important.  I think we should be told.  Any information you, dear viewers, might have on these lovely mysteries, on the back of the ten pound note, to the usual address please.

There's also a village along that road, called Stockton, which always amuses me, as I'm sure it really ought to either be called Stockton-on-Wylye or, possibly even, Stockton-off-Tees.

Anyway, enough of this totally digressionary introduction.  We were going to put pigs under the Nick Harvey, Acme microscope for in-depth investigation this month, weren't we?  I suppose we ought to get on with it then.

It was whilst passing through one of these lovely little villages in the valley that I was reminded of the particular phrase in the title of this month's epic edition.  I was passing by the roadside home of a couple of our porcine pals.

I'm sure this location used to be the home of a couple of Tamworths a few years ago.  You know the ones I mean, a little bit on the red side of pig coloured and a bit like those two who got all the publicity a few years back, when they escaped and went on the run.

I remember seeing a pair of decidedly Tamworth looking porkers residing at this location on a previous trip past, but this time being a far more inclement occasion, the residents were staying well out of sight, safe indoors and probably watching television.

Now please stop the tittering!  Yes, you, madam, in the second row.  I did say watching television.  Actually that's exactly what has prompted this entire epistle this month, the fact that our dear little piggy friends were indoors and were probably watching television.

Now, I should think it's pretty unlikely that most of you regular devotees have driven past this particular pigsty in recent weeks, so I'm going to have to explain the reason for my reasoning about the trotters turning on the television, aren't I?

It's all right, you're quite safe, Nick Harvey hasn't accepted that part time job driving the detector van, or anything sinister like that.  No, it's far simpler than that, I just used my ordinary powers of observation and nothing more than that.

I doubt it's the pigs who've done it themselves in any case.  I suspect they've had a little bit of help from their owner.  Last time I was chatting with a pig friend of mine, he didn't show an awful lot of expertise at handling a screwdriver, so I expect human help was at hand on this occasion.

You see, the pigsty has a television aerial adorning its roof.

I couldn't quite believe my eyes at first and nearly had to stop and drive past again, but it's definitely there.  Pigsty, roof, television aerial.  No doubt about it.

Quite probably it's only a jolly jape by their owner in order to attract the attention of passing motorists and put them off a bit, but not having taken the opportunity to pop indoors and visit with Mr and Mrs Porker, who am I to say that there isn't actually a television on the bottom end of that wire?

If it's still the Tamworths residing there, perhaps they had it installed specially, so they could watch that BBC programme about their relatives' heroic escapade.

Either way, it's an interesting, if slightly confusing sight.  I'd have expected a few more tyre tracks leading off the road and almost into Mr and Mrs Porker's field, where the odd driver or five had been too busy looking at the aerial to see where they were driving.

I've heard (or ought that to be herd) of cows that are encouraged to be slightly more generous with their milk by giving them a radio to listen to and I'm sure a similar trial has been held with hens and eggs, but quite where televisions and pigs go together, I'm none too sure.

The only certain thing is that, contrary to the popular misconception, the inside of Mr and Mrs Porker's dwelling will be well clean enough to accommodate the television; not to mention a computer, so they can read all about themselves here, and probably a couple of those empty three players for the piglets to enjoy.

I wonder if they're on broadband?  If they are, they could download all of Pinky and Perky's greatest hits, couldn't they?

On that rather dubious note, it might be best for me to emulate our piggy friends and stay well out of sight, safe indoors and probably watching television.

We'll leave it there, then, and I'll hide away until next month.  April 1st will be the date for the next load of this magnificent manure, so make sure you're around to join me then.  Right, I'm off, where's me bacon slicer?

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