An everyday story of extraordinary country folk
The story so far:-
Young John Farmer arrives home from University to find that all is not well at Brookfield Farm. Both the prize Boar, Quinton, and his Father, Loon E Farmer, are unwell and will not touch Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter. In fact neither will eat nor drink anything except lemonade. The cause has been identified by MAFF Scientists as being due to a rare virus known as Triple X Lemonade Disease. The only known cure is to drink pints of shandy and then to slowly decrease the lemonade content. After obtaining a supply of Old Bart’s and Lemonade from the ‘Chick Inn’, John arrives home to be told by his mother that there is a Triple X Lemonade Eradication Scheme and that the Ministry of Agriculture are going to shoot Quinton.
Now read on:-
John and his mother were standing in the yard at Rookfield Farm when the sound of a shot rang out. John’s mother buried her head in his shoulder and cried. John put his arm around her in comfort. “There, there, Mother,” he murmured gently. You know it’s for the best. You wouldn’t want Quinton to suffer. You know that he could never be happy without his daily ration of Old Bat’s Triple X.”
“I know, John,” sobbed his Mother, “but it’s so cruel.”
Presently they saw two figures coming towards them from the direction of the pigsty. It was Mr Marriot, the local veterinary surgeon, and with him was a man from the Ministry of Agriculture who was carrying a smoking shotgun under his arm. “Well I’m certainly glad that’s over with,” said Mr Marriot as he reached them. “It’s a very unpleasant business. I was going to feature Quinton in my latest novel* but now that’s out. My readers would not be able to take it and I’ve got the film and television rights to consider.”
The man from the Ministry cleared his throat. “Now then,” he said, “is there anything else on this Farm with Triple X Lemonade Disease?”
John’s Mother stopped crying. “There’s my husband, Loon,” she said. “He’s up stairs in bed – I’ll show you the way.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs Marriot,” said the Man, “but we’re not allowed to shoot people.”
“Oh,” sighed John’s Mother in disappointment.
John broke in hurriedly. “Tell me?” he asked the man from the Ministry, “What is the significance of the numbers, double O seven and seven eighths, which are emblazoned on the top pocket of your plastic mack?”
“Oh, that’s my Ministry Staff number,” replied the man. “The double O prefix means that I’m licensed to eradicate and sign requisition forms.”
“Well, I’m afraid I must be off now,” said Mr Marriot, “I’ve got another couple of chapters to write before tea time.”
“Well I must be off too,” said the Man from the Ministry.
John and his Mother watched them walk to their respective cars and drive away. John’s Mother began once more to cry. “Poor Quinton,” she said as she sobbed into her handkerchief. “Do you remember how he use to roll over in the muck when you tickled his tummy?”
“Now don’t go upsetting yourself again,” said John patting her gently. As soon as I can I’ll go to the market and buy a new pig with the compensation money.”
“Oh, John,” sobbed his Mother, “what ever shall we do?”
Will the Farmers survive this tragedy? Will Loon ever rise from his sick bed? Will Triple X Lemonade Disease be eradicated? Find out in the next exciting instalment of Umbridge.
*Readers might like to know that the two block busting novels by Jess Marriot MRCVS, ‘All Creatures Big and Smelly’ and ‘It Shouldn’t happen to a Pig’ will soon be available on the World Wide Web.