Monday, September 24, 2007


Few fans of P.G. Wodehouse will fail to recognise the title and recall that it concerned that inveterate pig-fancier, Lord Emsworth, and his prize Berkshire sow, Empress of Blandings.
They will recall, also, that it was the call used to encourage porkers to get their noses in the trough and fatten themselves up, something which Emsworth's favourite book on the care and maintenance of pigs, “Whiffle on The Pig,” had inexplicably failed to mention.
But in our nearby village of St. Pierre à Champ in the Loire valley, the pig business has taken a turn that would most certainly have engaged his Lordship's attention.
Not much happens in this sleepy village whose inhabitants number somewhere in the three figure range. Listening to grapes ripening was probably the most exciting event - until recently.
It was then discovered that the soon to be retired mayor had done a deal with a producer of premium porkers to locate a major piggery just upwind from the village. He himself was preparing to move well away from the area to a less super pig populated zone. I'm not too sure what the collective term for pigs is but I suppose “a grunting” would work, in which case the porker population was to be some 30,000 gruntings.
Indignation amongst the populace was at boiling point. The French, in general, lack that excellent safety valve of the British as exemplified by “Disgusted, Tonbridge Wells,” and equally lack an equivalent newspaper to write to.
In every Frenchman's soul burns the spirit of revolution and, last weekend, the populace took to the streets.
No doubt fearful that there was a guillotine stored somewhere in a barn for such contingencies and mindful of their duty to protect the Mayor, the Gendarmerie arrived in force.
By evening, things had quietened down but every house in the village now has a “For Sale” sign on display.
And, as you approach the town, there is a sign. It reads:
“St. Pierre à Champ – Village for Sale.”
Ryanair flights to this part of the world are stuffed to the gunwales with Brits looking to buy a house in France. Now they could bid for a whole village.
Should do wonders for sales of “Whiffle on The Pig.” And probably there will be a vacancy for the post of Mayor.


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