Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pigs in the Park!

Hey! It's Rupert here. Yes, I know you were expecting a letter from my Mum, but you deserve the truth. She'd want to tell you a story with a happy ending . . . how Rupert loved visiting the pigs in Holland Park.
Loved visiting the pigs, be blowed!

Here's the story . . . you can judge for yourself!
We were going to see the pigs in the park, or so Mum told me.
"Hold on," I wanted to say, "What's this?"
Pigs . . . ? What were pigs . . .? And what were they doing in Holland Park? Squirrels I knew well, they were there by the dozen. Foxes could be seen frequently if you sat still and kept quiet. I liked squirrels and foxes.

But pigs . . . ?
My Mum explained that it was all part of a cunning plan. An area of the Arboretum was over-run with brambles. Were they to be treated with chemical weed-killer the other wildlife would suffer. Were the brambles to be dug up it would be impossible not to damage the bulbs. Pigs, who rooted out brambles and scorned bulbs, were the perfect solution. A Saddleback sow and three piglets were coming on a two-month visit from Charton Manor Farm in Kent. It would give the pigs a holiday and rid the Arboretum of brambles.

From the start of this story I was unhappy. For one thing, I like undergrowth and brambles. Mice and small birds can be seen scuttling under the brambles. Brambles provide cover, and cats like cover. It's only dogs who enjoy vast, open spaces . . . pigs, I was beginning to suspect, had a lot in common with dogs.

Last Friday morning we set off. I didn't want to quench my Mum's enthusiasm, but, between you and me, I was far from happy.

When we arrived I peered nervously under the fence . . . how big was your average pig? Was it mouse-sized or dog-sized? Was it timid, or (unwelcome thought) was it fierce? And, most important of all, what might be its attitude to a visiting cat?

I could see nothing unusual underneath the fence.
Then my Mum picked me up and I had a completely different view. Suddenly I could see this large enclosure . . . with a curious, tunnel thing in the middle . . . but where were the pigs?
A moment later something moved in the far distance. Were those small, fat blobs the piglets . . . ? I wouldn't say I was pleased to see them, but I must admit to a faint interest . . . they were hardly threatening all that way away.
It was only then that I heard an unfamiliar, snuffling sound. It was coming up from the region of Mum's knees . . . curious, I looked down . . .
Good Heavens! What was this . . . ?
Holding me tight, my Mum, who by now was very excited, kept on telling me to look!
Look . . . ? Was she mad . . .?
Would any cat, with the slightest instinct for self-preservation, want to look at that massive, twitching snout . . . those small, beady eyes . . . ? What was more, there was always the slight hope that if I didn't look down at this alarming pig she mightn't look up and see me. With every moment that passed the more certain I became that cats and pigs were not cut out for enduring friendships!
My Mum finally got the message and took me off to a peaceful area of the park where I slowly recovered.

So . . . just in case anyone ever suggests to you that cats enjoy visiting pigs, let me tell you this.

Where pigs are concerned, cats resemble snowdrops an
d daffodils. They'll stoically accept the temporary disruption, but just you watch them rejoice when the disturbance is over, the pigs depart, and peace returns to the park!