Stories and Traveltips

ID #5361

This Little Piggy Went to Show and Tell, Randparkridge, Randburg, South Africa.

I owned a smallholding in Randparkridge in the 80’s when my neighbor, Roland Marais purchased several pigs. Pleased with his acquisition, we went to inspect them -- huge black monsters that made a big impression on my young son Malcolm. So I suggested that, when they had piglets, Roland should give Malcolm one to raise. He agreed and, a few weeks later he invited me over to select one. As one might expect the pigs were not impressed at the prospect of losing one of their offspring. So they became aggressive when Rowland tried to catch one of the piglets. However he eventually succeeded and we placed it into a porous fertilizer bag for the short trip home where we released it.  

My three young sons were thrilled with their new pet. Our Border collies started harassing it but we shooed them off. Later, to make it feel at home, we offered it some dog pellets to eat and a bowl of water to drink – an offer which the piglet readily accepted in spite of the growling dogs. Thereafter followed a long debate about what to call our new pet. After many suggestions we settled on Hamlet – a choice which all agreed was most appropriate.

Hamlet quickly settled into our daily routine and, in spite of the fact that he was only a few weeks old, soon began to dominate the Border collies at their feed bowls. So after a few weeks they would step back and let him finish before attempting to eat their share. Accordingly he had an unlimited amount of food to eat which, together with a ravenous appetite, caused him to grow rapidly.  He could often be seen energetically running about the garden with his head inside one of the feed bags trying to get the last remaining morsel out of the bag. And he made a real mess of the garden, digging up the lawns and plants with his nose. 

My son Stuart attended St Stithians College in Randburg where they regularly held Show and Tell days for the children. One day he proposed that we take Hamlet to school as his contribution to Show and Tell.  Having earlier taken a lamb to school for my eldest son Gareth I was not in a position to refuse. So I agreed without thinking through the consequences thoroughly. However I was taken by surprise when, a few weeks later, Stuart came home and told me that Show and Tell was the following day.

I had recently accepted a new job as director of a well-known chemical company and was scheduled to attend my first board meeting at 11h00 on the day in question. The managing director, Chris van Niekerk, was a stickler for starting meetings on time so taking Hamlet to school on the same day was going to be awkward. However, in spite of my concern, I believed I would have enough time to take Hamlet to school, drop him off and still make the meeting in time.

On the morning in question, however, I was in for a rude surprise. Hamlet had, in the intervening weeks, grown alarmingly quickly -- he had grown so much he could only be squeezed into the bag with difficulty. However I had no other way of transporting him to school so we squeezed and shoved him into the bag until we were able to close it. Hamlet did not take kindly to such treatment and protested loudly, squealing at every opportunity. However we were running late so, after making a hole in the fertilizer bag to enable him to breathe freely, we placed the bag with Hamlet inside in the boot (trunk) of my car and took off for school.

It is several km from Randparkridge to the school with many intersections. At each intersection, Hamlet rolled backwards and forwards as the car first decelerated and then accelerated, each time squealing loudly. So we travelled all the way to school accompanied by deafening squeals emanating from the boot of the car. Needless to say we attracted startled looks from many other motorists on the way.

When we arrived at school I faced another problem. As soon as I opened the boot and freed Hamlet from the confines of his bag the car was surrounded by excited children all wanting to look and touch our pet. I suspect it was because none of them had ever seen a real pig. Whatever the reason, Hamlet was a great hit. However their classroom was several hundred meters from the parking lot. So I had to find a way of moving Hamlet from the parking lot to the classroom. I had brought along a choker chain to control him but no amount of pulling on the chain would persuade him to move. So I picked him up and, in spite of the fact that I was wearing a newly cleaned business suit, carried him to the classroom and chained him up underneath an oak tree.

By now I was running late for the board meeting so I dashed off to work, only to arrive 10 minutes late. Chris van Niekerk looked up and asked me why I was late. So I said: “I apologize Mr. Chairman, but I had to take a pig to school”. He looked at me with astonishment and, after hesitating for a few moments, resumed the meeting. Afterwards he noted that the explanation was so ridiculous that it could not possibly have been made up and it was a source of amusement for a long time.

After the board meeting I drove back to the school to fetch Hamlet. When I arrived Show and Tell was long over and the children were sitting quietly in their classrooms, busy with their lessons. Hamlet had however taken a liking to acorns buried beneath the tree and was busy excavating huge holes. Needless to say he did not take kindly to me pulling on the choke chain in the direction of the car and once again started squealing loudly. The children needed little excuse to escape the confines of their classrooms and poured out to investigate.

The teachers took a dim view of my interruption of their class schedule and made it clear that Hamlet had overstayed his welcome. So once again I had to pick him up, carry him to the car, squeeze Hamlet into his bag and drive him home, accompanied all the way by loud squeals of protest. By the time I released him at home I was hot, tired and filthy. Furthermore my business suit was ruined. Hamlet however was quite unconcerned and was soon back to his favourite pastimes of dominating the Border collies, chasing the empty bag of feed about the garden at speed and digging up and destroying the garden with his nose.

By this time I had had more than enough of Show and Tell as well as pigs so I returned him to Rowland with thanks. Sadly, it became increasingly impractical to transport the children to and from school each day so we sold our smallholding together with our menagerie of animals (Border collies, sheep, cattle, koi fish, pigs, etc) and moved into town. However, in spite of the fact that they are now mature adults,  my sons still occasionally reminisce about Hamlet.

Alan McIver

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Last update: 2014-05-14 14:15
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.20

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