“Can we take a pig with us, not one of the big ones, just, you know, one of the small ones?” I said, standing in front of our bed strewn with clothes, a half full suitcase on the floor.
“How about Dex, can I take Dex?”
“Simon, shut up.”
Oh. In the twelve years since we left London to live on Exmoor, we’ve only been back together twice, both times for funerals, and the last one of those was seven years ago. Now, Debbie’s sister is getting married and we’re off to London.
I think I’m looking forward to it. I love my animals, but I haven’t had a single day off for eighteen months and I could do with a break. However I’m not sure I want to leave them. What if they forget me while I’m gone? Or I loose my position as leader, a tenuous state of affairs at the best of times? We’ve all read Animal Farm, what if the pigs revolt?
To keep control, I’m going to have to entrust the symbol of my office to another. The orchestral conductor has a baton, the judge a gavel, the train controller a whistle. I have a yellow bucket, and I shall pass it into the safe keeping of the one left in charge. That should cover it.
I rummage through the clothes on the bed for something of mine. I know what I want to wear. I’ve already picked my outfit. Black shoes, black trousers and a smart fitted shirt. Classic but dapper, with just a hint of cool dude.
I know what Debbie’s going to wear because she’s had the dress hanging up on the outside of the wardrobe for the past six months. It’s, er, long. Floor length. Kind of strappy, cut low front and back with muted colours of dark blue, rusty gold and light grey, and she looks beautiful in it.
After a week of solid work typing up the “How to,” and “What happens if,” manual list of instructions, I’m happy with the result. It’s always a worry of what to include and what to leave out. How in depth should I go without terrifying her of the possibilities? In the end I opt to include the chapter on, “What to do in case of a flood,” but leave out, “What to do in case of an attack by zombies,” figuring if the council don’t need to take precautions then neither do I. Besides, the pigs would probably eat them.
So that’s it, I’m off to party like it’s 1999. For a whole day and night, I’m going to be a human being, not the stressed out worry-wart dad to an odd crew of animals. It’s exciting. No welly boots, no mud, no screeching pigs desperate for dinner NOW! No driving around on a quad bike with rain pouring down my neck. No stampeding naughty horses. No chickens demanding attention. No goats to milk by hand. No killer geese. No stinky Dex. No flying head butts by the lambs. No aloof sheep.
No cats, no ducks, no great dane on the bed at night taking up all the room. No spending hours outside, no wood to cut for the fire to keep warm, no bread to make by hand. And no meat – away from home we eat vegetarian. Just human beings. Normal, everyday, human beings.
Mm, I wonder if I should lie when anyone I don’t know asks me what I do for a living? I could tell them I’m an estate agent! You’re right, maybe not. No, I’ll probably end up drunk in a corner slurring about how the General, a fifty stone pig, is my “Best friend in all the world.”
Yep, it’s time to go and embarrass the family.
And I promise to blog more.