Love Story

A LOVE STORY

Once there lived a farmer, a handsome, honest and hard-working man. And his name was Joseph.

In the spring, Joseph rose early to till the fields and he did this with the help of his trusty – but temperamentally unstable – mule.  Whose name was Pablo.

And in the summer, Joseph tended his crops and his animals, through times of baking sunshine and gentle rains, the occasional downpour and regular governmental inspections.

And in autumn, he collected the harvest and then later, as winter drew closer, he went down to the little town, in a cart drawn by the trusty mule and carrying with him one pig. A different pig each year. Because each year the pig would be roasted for the local, annual harvest festival.

And upon the year in question, Joseph had selected and reared his finest piglet – a black male with a long snout, pleasant demeanour and matching trotters – for the occasion. And its name was Columbus.

Columbus was pleased and proud to be selected as Festival Pig 2010 and all through the summer he enjoyed the comforts of the Festival Pig Quarters complete with en suite facilities. Every morning Joseph bought him a breakfast of the plumpest acorns along with the morning papers and Columbus grew quickly from gawky piglet into a fine young pig of excellent credentials.

But

… all too soon drowsy summer cooled to autumn and the children of the town were rounded up from the hills, scrubbed down, stuffed into uncomfortable shirts and sent back to school. And for Columbus his great moment at the festival drew closer.

Now Pablo the mule had developed a certain rough affection for the pig. But he was a mule of unpredictable temperament, and so when Columbus asked “What will happen at the Harvest festival?”

Pablo replied “The women of the town will stuff your nostrils with sage and your arse with an onion and you will be roasted, carved and consequently eaten.” This brutal reply was not helpful, and a small tear rolled down the earnest pig’s snout.

On the morning of the Harvest festival,  Joseph woke early. A light frost lay upon the grass but the sun was rising and Joseph whistled as he shampooed Columbus and then  trimmed and combed Pablo’s bristley mane into a sleek style with a centre parting. And off they went to town together in the cart.

But along the dusty road into town they chanced upon a girl on a flower painted bicycle and her name was Mary Anna Simpson Sprockett –  a stranger to the town – and she had a puncture. In the nature of a true gentleman, Joseph stopped to help and he offered the girl and her bicycle a lift into town. Happily she climbed into the cart drawn by the temperamentally unstable mule, and sat on a clean, plump cushion next to the shampooed and sun-dried pig. Who smiled shyly at her and grunted politely. Mary Anna was charmed by this delightful animal and declared “What a lovely pig!”

To which the blushing Joseph replied “Thank you,” and then he added “he is the Festival Pig 2010. We call him Columbus.”

“Festival pig?” she enquired innocently

“Yes,” he replied proudly, “and perhaps you would do me the honour of eating a small slice of him with us …” but he didn’t finish the sentence, for it was drowned out by the simultaneous wails of an overwrought pig and an emotional Mary Anna Simpson Sprockett. And even Pablo the mule uttered a sniff of regret.

Revolution was in the air.

Mary Anna turned upon the hapless farmer, “You can’t!” she said “I wont let Columbus die!”

An emergency meeting was called, whilst Joseph was cast out to wander aimlessly up and down by the side of the road wringing his hands. For an hour they consulted. The pig, the mule and the girl. They discussed targets, outcomes and risk assessment strategies. Then they agreed cash flow forecasts with possible shortfalls. And then they summoned him.

“We have come to an unanimous decision,” announced Pablo, stroking the unfamiliar parting in his mane with a self conscious hoof.

“Oh,” said Joseph nervously

“We have agreed to offer Mary Anna’s hand in marriage to you in exchange for the pig’s right to live a more complete life.”

And so it was that farmer Joseph found true love, and the town enjoyed vegetarian nut roast for the first time and Mary Anna found a happy place in the world and Pablo developed a kind heart and as for Columbus

… he lived happily ever after.

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