Piggies the Brave

This is mostly a reblogging effort. My wife has a real and proper online column which she writes once a week, and on the rare occasions where I’d like to write about something that she also wants to write about, her space takes precedence.

This one truly was a whale of a story: the missing guinea pig we were charged with minding, on the eve of our move from the neighbourhood, from Edinburgh, from Scotland itself. You can catch it all here, but this paragraph higlights the nub of the sadness:

It is terribly difficult to be tucked up in your bed, warm and dry, and to know that somewhere out in the dark, there is a little lost creature, shivering and terrified. And that there is nothing whatsoever you can do.

-Katie Munnik, ‘In the Garden’

What I can share here – and you know I’m a guy who likes a good joke – is that I knew,  rooting about in the dark, the wet, looking for the one pig hardest to find in the dark (the others had white patches, whereas Toffee was black and toffee-brown), was that this would be a very funny story to tell if and only if we find the pig again. Otherwise, there’s just no fun. So I’m glad to have a funny joke to share with our new friends in Cardiff. “So, just moved here – how were things on your way out from Edinburgh?”

Let me tell you…


The title doesn’t make any sense unless you know our neighbours’ song, which they wrote about their guinea pigs to the tune of “Scotland the Brave.” It starts like this:

Hark, when the night is falling
Hear, hear the piggies calling!
Loudly and proudly calling
Out of the hutch.
Out in the grassy garden,
Down in the laundry corner,
Panda and Patch and Toffee –
Piggies the Brave!

My Best New Joke

The wee one is teething at the moment, and I had a shift with his yelling self yesterday over the small hours. Why “Twinkle, Twinkle” against my chest can settle him at 9:30 in the morning and 7:30 at night but not at 4am is a mystery to me. Instead, I propped myself up on the couch, holding him whilst he slept fitfully. I wished even for fitful sleep but instead just got that small hours psychotropic stream of consciousness.

Paul Simon’s “Hearts and Bones” was running through my head, especially the guitar line in the intro, which is rather difficult. I kept visualising what my fingers would do on the fretboard. It’s a thing guitar players do–see and feel the music.

At one point, I took off my glasses, remembering chats with a frosh mate of mine from back in J-school. When we were studying, we sometimes confessed to shutting our eyes for a moment. This was okay–we could convince ourselves we were going right back to the books; but if we took off our glasses, we weren’t fooling anybody anymore, because if you  take off your glasses, it’s not just a nap. I was hoping for some of this teleological mojo, but it did not help.

Then this joke occurred to me, and I started saying it over and over in my head so I wouldn’t forget it. It’s a little absurd, as you’d expect, being written at 4 in the morning. But I go for the slightly absurd anyway. I thought I would post it here on the blog, but I didn’t trust myself enough to ensure it was funny, so I pledged to run it past two people before publishing it. My wife, over breakfast, did not go for it. John Hastings, the professional, said he laughed while reading it (he’s in London, so I typed it over Facebook chat). My wife is as sleep-deprived as I am–more, really, as she is the one with milk in her breasts and is therefore the wain’s first port of call when he wakes, cranky or no. So I don’t trust her judgement on such matters: I’m not catching her at her best. And as I said, John’s a professional. So here it is.

Q: A Canadian, Jesus, and a Bic ballpoint pen1 walk into a bar. How do we know which one is the Messiah?

A: We know because I am the pen’s apostle, and the things I record concerning it are true.

1In Britain, you would say ‘a Biro.’ But I prefer the cadence of the North American phrase.