I see that Channel Four, or the BBC, is showing, or has already shown, a so-called Liverpool Nativity, presumably a wretched attempt at making the story of the birth of The Christ â€œrelevantâ€ to todayâ€™s feckless Britons, or at least to their northern segment. At Hooting Yard we have no truck with such twaddle. But while you are not watching the Liverpool Nativity you might be diverted by a brief account of the Pointy Town Nativity, an annual jamboree which has nothing to do with The Christ as such. The birth that is celebrated is that of a pig, the firstborn pig on Scroonhoonpooge farmyard after the feast of Saint Loopy, and known throughout the succeeding year as the New Pig.
Much to the consternation of the Pointy Towners, adherents of various religions have taken offence at their beano. Those big but, letâ€™s face it, witless books, the Bible, the Torah and the Koran, each get into a bit of a flap about pigs, deriding them as unclean abominable cloven-hooved beasts. On the contrary, pigs are charming, intelligent, loveable, and delightful animals, and it is well-known that leaning over the fence of a pig sty and watching pigs for an hour a day is one of the most relaxing activities known to humankind. You would be astonished at the kerfuffle caused a year or so ago when the New Pig was given the name Mohammed, which was viewed in
Pig nomenclature has become something of a minefield, then, but that does not deter the good people of
On Saint Loopyâ€™s Day itself, the pregnant pigs of Scroonhoonpooge farmyard are gathered in a special piggery unit, part of an enormous barn decorated for the occasion with flags and bunting and embroidered portraits of Saint Loopy. Roaring Sawtooth jets from
The Naming of the New Pig is a solemn contrast to the rowdy celebrations which precede it. So solemn, indeed, that the silence is broken now and then by the sounds of sobbing and weeping and the rending of garments. Eventually, a designated orphan child will pluck a name out of thin air, and paint it, with a dangerous lead-based paint, on the outside of the barn. And thus the Pointy Town Nativity comes to a close, as the New Pig is given gifts of bran-tub scrapings, and the old New Pig is led away to an ordinary sty, and the townspeople trudge back to their daily drudgery, and the planet continues to spin upon its axis for no apparent purpose.