Author of 'Babe' pens another hit - Porcus and Rufus

ONCE upon a time there were two brothers named Porcus and Rufus. In looks they were identical. Each was covered in ginger hair, each had a very long snout, and each, in fact, looked very like those wild specimens of their kind that long ago, used to roam the woods and forests of old England. In short, they were Tamworth pigs.

No one, not even their owner, could tell Rufus from Porcus, so alike were they, but strangely, their natures were very different.

Porcus was a jolly fellow, always ready to treat life as a joke, impulsive, leaping before he looked. Rufus was of a serious nature, liking to think things through and convinced that discretion was the better part of valour.

Rufus and Porcus lived in a pigsty near the old town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, and one fine day their owner loaded them into a trailer behind his car and drove away.

"This is fun!" said Porcus as they bumped along. "Better than being stuck in that old sty. Where d'you suppose we're going, Rufus?" Rufus thought deeply.

"My guess is," he said, "that we are being transported to Tamworth, which is presumably our natural home. We are, in effect, being repatriated."

They passed a signpost. "Ah!" said Rufus. "My conjecture was inaccurate." "Talk English," said Porcus. "What are you on about?" "We are, in fact," said Rufus, "going to Malmesbury."

They passed another signpost. "What does that one say?" asked Porcus. "It says ABATTOIR," replied Rufus.

"What's that?"

"An abattoir," said Rufus gravely, "is an alternative name for a slaughterhouse, a place to which animals - in this case, pigs - are taken to be killed."

"And here it is," he said as they drew to a halt. "I fear, brother dear, that our end is nigh."

"Oh piffle and waffle and poppycock and tarradiddle and horsefeathers!" said Porcus. "We're too young to die. Wait till he lets down the tailboard and then follow me."

And as soon as the back of the trailer was opened, the two young Tamworths leaped out and raced across the yard of the abattoir, and out of the gate, and across the neighbouring field. At the bottom of the field was yet another signpost, which said RIVER AVON. "Alas," said Rufus, "I fear, brother dear, that recapture is inevitable."

"Why?"

"Pigs cannot swim. I remember being told that, by the action of their forefeet, any attempt to swim results, tragically, in their cutting their own throats."

"Oh piffle and waffle and poppycock and tarradiddle and horsefeathers!" cried Porcus. "Look, the men in white coats are after us. If you stay here, you'll certainly get your throat cut. Come on, I'm off!" and he plunged in.

Rufus sighed.

"One supposes," he said, "that drowning may be a more acceptable form of death," and he too threw himself into the Avon.

Porcus was already swimming across.

"It's easy!" he shouted back. "Just walk, Rufus old boy, as though you were on dry land, just walk!" So Rufus did.

As they landed on the opposite bank, free now from pursuit, and shook the water from their ginger coats, Rufus looked with admiration at his headstrong brother.

"Porcus, dear boy," he said. "Due to your quick thinking and bold plunge into the watery element, our lives have been saved."

"Well, save your breath now," said Porcus. "We may have crossed the river but we're not out of the wood yet. Or rather," he went on, "I should say we're not into the woods yet, because that's where we need to be. Once we get in among the trees, we'll be safe."

"But how shall we exist, dear boy?" said Rufus. "We have been accustomed to regular supplies of food. Without those, we shall surely be in danger of a considerable loss of condition and diminution of weight, and may, not to put too fine a point on it, starve to death."

"Oh piffle and waffle and poppycock and tarradiddle and horsefeathers!" cried Porcus. "The woods around Malmesbury are full of lovely things for us to eat. Unlike all other pigs, we are going to live happily ever after."

Let's hope they do.

This story first appeared in the 'Western Daily Press'

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