Dom Joly

‘It took me 20 min­utes to find the tun­nel. They had dug it be­hind a thick bush, so it was al­most in­vis­i­ble’

Cotswold Life - - EDITOR’S COMMENT - contact @domjoly

The pigs have es­caped. They’d clearly been plan­ning it for weeks

They’d clearly been plan­ning it for weeks. When I look back, the signs were all there. Stan­ley would make a weird whistling noise when I ap­proached their quar­ters and Sir Fran­cis would al­ways have an overly in­no­cent look on his sus­pi­ciously muddy face. “What have you been up to?” I’d ask jok­ingly, un­wit­tingly send­ing my two pigs into parox­ysms of worry. It turns out that they had been plan­ning the great es­cape and they were not go­ing to be foiled by some pesky hu­man.

I’ve writ­ten be­fore about just how in­tel­li­gent pigs are. Peo­ple of­ten say that they have the IQ of a seven-year old child. I think it’s more the IQ of a 16-year old child and with the cor­re­spond­ing at­ti­tude. They want you to feed them and buy them things they like, but apart from that they want to you to leave them alone be­cause you are “sooooooooo em­bar­rass­ing and soooooooo stupid.”

My kids demon­strate this early in­de­pen­dence through the medium of fes­ti­vals. There is al­ways a fes­ti­val that they need to go to or that some­body else is go­ing to that they want to go. The only fes­ti­val they have no in­ter­est in is any fes­ti­val that Stacey and I might think of go­ing to. Now, I’m not say­ing that my pigs were pre­par­ing an es­cape in or­der to go to a fes­ti­val, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

There was a pe­riod when Stacey thought they looked lonely and put a ra­dio in with them. She tuned it to Ra­dio 4 and they went crazy and smashed the thing to bits. She had an­other go and put BBC 6Mu­sic on. They ap­peared to love this apart from when Cerys Matthews came on but, as I said, they are smart pigs.

So, one morn­ing, I wan­dered over to say hello and some­thing was dif­fer­ent. There was no warn­ing sound from Stan­ley. There was no des­per­ate rush to the fence from Sir Fran­cis de­mand­ing grub. In fact, there was noth­ing. To­tal si­lence. I opened their gate and looked around. It was empty. These pigs had flown.

It took me 20 min­utes to find the tun­nel. They had dug it be­hind a thick bush, so it was al­most in­vis­i­ble. It was a proper tun­nel - room for a large pig to go through and un­der the back wall and emerg­ing just on the other side in the lower field. I looked around for tools un­til I re­alised that they had used noth­ing but their snouts and trot­ters.

Where had they gone? It was ac­tu­ally rather sweet that they had es­caped to­gether. Sir Fran­cis rather lords it over Stan­ley and I would have as­sumed that he would not wish to travel in pub­lic with him. I was wrong. They had clearly worked as a team and were off some­where to­gether.

I as­sem­bled a grumpy fam­ily posse and we jumped into the Dis­cov­ery and set off try­ing to work out how on earth we even started look­ing for two fugi­tive porkies? If only I had put GPS track­ers on them? I’d done this with the dogs, but the bloody things never ac­tu­ally work and I’d given up in the end. Pre­sum­ably the pigs would have hacked into the sys­tem and de­signed a fake sig­nal that would have sent me into Wilt­shire on a wild goose (pig) chase?

So, we drove around aim­lessly shout­ing “STAN­LEY” and “SIR FRAN­CIS” out of the win­dows. We must have sounded like peo­ple try­ing to find our elderly un­cle and his bat­man.

Even­tu­ally we spot­ted them. High up on the crest of a hill, hug­ging the tree­line, walk­ing fast and pur­pose­fully to­wards Chel­tenham. Where were they off to? Did they fancy a night at 131? Were they mak­ing a break for the bor­der into Wales? Sadly, we shall never know. They were even­tu­ally per­suaded home with the in­cen­tive of about a year’s sup­ply of food laid in a trail back to their es­tab­lish­ment. How they man­aged to con­sume all this grub and keep mov­ing was a tes­ta­ment to their Olympian ap­petite.

They are now sub­ject to reg­u­lar, ran­dom in­spec­tions of their quar­ters. I feel like a prison guard, but I’ve got to keep on my toes. I swear I heard the sound of a mo­tor the other night…

Sir Fran­cis and Stan­ley: Pic­tures of in­no­cence

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