“Strangle a pig and burn down the barn and doh-si-doh your partners!”

It was a rallying cry, and in its wake pigs were strangled, barns were burned, and doh-si-dohs were essayed. How sweet the memory of those dances of my grandparents’ youth. I was not alive then of course, so I have no direct memory, but I recall, as an infant, sitting in a basket slung over one of grandpa’s bison, and he goading the beast along the lane, and telling me tales of his childhood in the Wenkenblatt, the strangled pigs and the burning barns and the doh-si-dohs.

He told me how he and my grandma met at such a rally, the one with a bale of straw and the other with a can of paraffin, and how they kissed as they set a barn ablaze, and clambered to safety over the corpses of pigs, and doh-si-dohed in the light of the flames.

It is another world. Now, pig protection teams stand guard over the sties, and barns are built from fireproof panels, and the doh-si-doh is classed as a criminal act, the penalty terrible. It is perhaps a more civilised world, even here in the Wenkenblatt, but though I know it only from my grandparents’ stories, still I miss that rustic mayhem. There is a hole where my soul should be.

I wander past the pig sty and beat my fists upon the side of the barn, and very very quietly, so I will not be overheard, I put my lips together and whistle a tune from the old pneumatic hoedownolator, a mad and giddy tune.

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