Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My nemesis: Francis Bacon

My husband calls me Doctor Doolittle. He thinks I'm good with animals.  He thinks it's funny.  I wish I were an animal communicator but I'm just an animal mumbler, really.  Yes, I talk to the animals, mostly my dogs, because they're the only ones that will listen.  I greet them when they walk into the room, ask them questions, and answer for them, you know, if the telepathy isn't working.  Doesn't everyone?  I know it's verging on Miranda Hart territory. Horses I'm okay with too.  I mumble at them, tell them they're handsome, scratch their ears. I rescue spiders from the shower, humming birds, and once I sat in the road on Laurel Canyon with a deer who'd been hit by a car (Mike Tyson was the only person who stopped to ask if I needed any help and I've loved him ever since, tattooed face and all.)

The truth is, dear reader, I'm not awfully fond of people who don't like animals.

Rex Harrison as Dr Doolittle

But there is one animal that is anathema to me.  She is, in fact, my nemesis.  And her name is Francis Bacon.  She is a pig.  And I don't mean that perjoratively. She is literally a pig. A big, fat, grumpy pig that grunts and lives in my best friend Lucy's kitchen.

Francis Bacon, photo credit: Lucy Dahl

Lucy made me lunch today. It's a sweltering day in Los Angeles, 100°F (38°C), which makes impossible to get into a car without first turning on the air conditioning and swathing one's seat with a towel.  Lucy's house is big and dark and cool and airy, with lovely thick walls and cold, wood floors.  She'd opened all the doors to let the air circulate and we found refuge in the kitchen to catch up after a summer apart.

Francis didn't notice me at first (did I mention that she is partially blind?) but as soon as she caught my scent, she stamped her trotter, squealed indignantly and rushed at me, her teeth aimed at my calf. As her snout was covered in dirt (she'd no doubt been practising her truffling skills in the garden),  I had a large round mark on my leg.  "Your pig tried to bite me" I said.  Lucy laughed, looked down at my leg and said "Oh dear."  Being the Alpha Femme in the house, Lucy put on her deepest, strictest voice and said "Out, Francis. Out."  Francis all but ignored her.  "I know" she said, brightly.  "I'll put myself between you and her, you know, like a Switzerland."

The theory is that pigs like a social hierarchy and they don't like that hierarchy disturbed.  It makes them antagonistic.   Normal visitors, apparently (or maybe Lucy said this to make me feel better) don't bother the pig.  It's only people she knows Lucy loves.  Like me. Great.  A pig is jealous of me.
For better or for worse,
A pig is a pig,
and ever more
     shall be it so.
With Lucy between us, the pig and I glared at each other.

Had I been better prepared, I would have brought with me a pig board, pictured below, to protect myself.

a pig board

Because you need armour of some kind when a 300 lb animal with a bone to pick decides to charge you.  And they're remarkably agile for their size.  Those little trotters work with surprising alacrity.  A veritable whirl of pinkness.

Photo credit: Lucy Dahl

Here, just in case there is any doubt, are Francis' teeth.

Lucy: 'I told her "Bum wants a photo of you" and that is what she gave me (you!)'

Lucy told me what she thought was a charming story, about Francis being locked in the garage with the barbecue charcoal, which she rolled around in until she took on a perfect shade of black.  When they found her, it seemed she might be dead, poisoned by the carcinogenic coals.  "Thank God, she was only sleeping" said my friend.  "Gosh, that MUST have been a relief" I said, with the most sympathy I could muster.

Photo credit: Lucy Dahl


LPC said...

Pigs. Was not expecting that.

the happy honeybee said...

I *love* pigs, Miss B, but it doesn't sound like you had a very nice pig experience! Aww.

Miss Whistle said...

No, I did not. It's an ongoing feud I'm afraid. Clearly Winston Churchill and I are not of the same mind when it comes to our porcine friends:
"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
- Winston Churchill.
Thanks so much for your comments.

xx Miss W

Sharon Longworth said...

I like the idea of pigs very much, but then I've never been within touching distance of one. If I'd been in your shoes, I might have been tempted to murmur something along the lines of 'mmmm... crackling and apple sauce'