Parma by Alan Nicholson Harold

Farmer Harold wakes up with trotters, and fears what fate has in store; by Alan Nicholson Harold.

TROTTERS! NO! No no no no no no no, aw fuck NO! No hands! Jesus Christ! What the fuck! Trotters? Tiny little trotters! Well then I'm a... oh shit that's bloody stupid! I can't be a... I'm human! Dream, obviously it's a dream, bad dream; got to be, but what if it's not? What if it's true? If that's the case what about... am I still male? Have I got... are they still there? So important. Can this be happening? No; it's, it's a dream, got to be, a bloody awful terrible realistic nightmare! It's got to be.

The two guys looked over the latest litter in the pen, 12 snuffling pink little bodies each intent on finding a teat, then perversely sliding off their prize to try and sample their sibling's teat, this causing a slowly revolving pink carousel of piglets.

Here, look at that weird little sod, Geovanni said to Pietro. What? There, that little sod in the corner, the one by itself, shaking, you'd think it was in shock or something! A wrong 'un maybe? Looks like a runt to me anyway. Pietro watched the little piglet for a moment or two. Don't know about shock, could be palsy, hard to say, you'd think it was thinking wouldn't you, he laughed. Mention it to the old man when you see him, he'll most likely smack it on the head.

A mirror! I need a mirror, aw shit! No fucking mirrors in a pigsty, no chance, fucking pigs don't need mirrors for fuck's sake... come on, Harold, think! Water! Water, still water, acts like a mirror, there's got to be water in here somewhere. Desperately staring around the pen, Harold the piglet spied a water bowl. Shaking off the fear and shock, he made his way over to the bowl on four brand new legs. Gingerly he straddled the bowl, took a deep breath and looked down...

Hey Geovanni, come and look at this, what's that daft bugger doing now do you think? Both Pietro and Geovanni watched on, puzzled as the little piglet straddled the water bowl and looked down, both men jumped when after a few moments the piglet lifted its head and let out a long strident squeal.

Like a terrible coruscating river of light, memories coursed through Harold's head, something picking him up, taking him away from the seething warm mass of bodies, a yelp of surprise as his backside was planted hard on a rail, then probing, prodding and pulling sensations, scary and unpleasant, making him squeal, a pause, then a ring of cramping, paralysing pain! A crushing grip of fire, the yelp now a scream, he remembered being dropped back into the pen, but the pain! He wanted to run from the agony, leave it behind, get to the warmth of his mother to take it all away, but couldn't, too crippled with the sickening torment, one leg kicking ineffectually, as if trying to push away the hellish agonising fire in his balls.

When Harold had looked down into that watery reflection, he saw the tiny shrivelled scrotum, the bright orange ring at the top, the ring that had cut off the blood supply to his balls, emasculating him. The truth was undeniable, he was without doubt a piglet, worse still a male piglet, or boar if you prefer, then the total kicker, he was now a gilt! A boar with no balls!

With a clarity intense enough to make him scream, he saw his future; four to six months of living cooped up in pens, ankle deep in shit, fed shit, protein shit made from shit, hen shit mostly, and tasting of shit, dragged out often and stabbed with big blunt syringes, injected with all sorts of chemicals, chemicals to stop disease, chemicals to make you grow, all of which will make you feel 'sick as a pig' fighting your corner in the pen, trying to get the cleanest area, fighting in the trough to get more than your fair share, for as a pig, you're always so hungry, it gnaws at you, 24 hours a day, it consumes you, you'll eat whatever is put in front of you, taste a luxury you can't afford, swill, paper, plastic and vermin; on occasion even other pigs have been known to be on the menu, maybe a snack of sibling's ear? Oh hell yes! And the torture in all of this? Pigs have an exquisite sense of taste! Pigs are employed to hunt truffles for a reason, pigs adore that beautiful subtle taste more than any other, yet hunger makes swine of them all.

Harold now knew his fate almost to the day, he knew he'd grow, become sleek and sinewy, his high pitched squeals turning into low mature grunts, then a day would arrive, they'd be forced out of their pen, many resisting through fear and agoraphobia having spent their entire lives in those confined quarters, the humans at this point were guaranteed to prove inhuman, kicking, punching, using high powered electrical prodders to get movement, shouting and swearing all the way, they'd be loaded into lorries, traveling for hours, desperate to stay on their feet for they knew to go down in there was a death sentence, hunger, thirst and fear equal bed partners.

Eventually they'd stop, the doors would open, fear would run through them like a river, for to a pig they'd smell it, the smell of blood all around them, not a pig would move down that ramp, dread paralysing their legs, terror blanking their minds, then one pig would see life, a goat, its calm other-worldly rectangular eyes gazing at them with either boredom or disinterest, it would turn and wander away, so first one then all would follow the goat, this Judas goat, into a building of death.

Now, no return, the squealing would be cacophony, endless and deafening, the luckiest pig would be the first to die, humans see no reason to shield those about to die from their fate, the porcine brethren would see the first taken, stunned with electricity, cruel hooks rammed through the skin and tendons at the base of their rear legs, still only stunned, shuddering in spastic convulsions, they would see it winched skywards, all its weight on those two hooks, just as the stunning effects wear off a human would approach and carelessly slice deep into its throat, blood pouring forth in a sickening flood; the hooks that so agonisingly held it up for the knife would trundle the now lifeless carcass away to be processed.

Harold knows this.

Memories; Harold Oliver, a farmer born and bred, brought up on a smallholding cosseted deep within the Coquet valley in deepest darkest Northumberland, England, in truth, not that remote, nor dark, quietly stunning in its own way, but making a living on small farms was hard. Harold inherited 120 acres, 6 cows, 43 sheep, 2 collie dogs and the main source of income, 150 breeding sows from his taciturn, dour, and obviously at that point, deceased father.

In his later years, the mature years, Harold would fit the description 'doughty'. Heavy built, strong, hairy with weather-beaten tanned skin, a man of no nonsense, never one to shirk a job, nor one to rely on others, not even women, he farmed alone, lived alone and tended his stock as he saw fit, not one to change to new-fangled methods and medicines, Harold stuck to the old ways, talk about animal welfare, spending fortunes on veterinarians to administer vaccines and drenches was a bloody waste in Harold's eyes, same as castrating the livestock, a sharp knife or rubber ring had always done the job, his one concession was that when he castrated with a knife, after cutting the scrotum, then the testicle, he would use a mechanical claw to pull it free, as opposed to his teeth, the old shepherds way.

When castrating the pigs, Harold would throw the extracted testicles in a clean enamel bucket, when done for the day he'd return home, lightly fry them off for a special treat, Sweetbreads... good eating.

He'd tend his stock in his own rough way, maybe painful for the stock at times, but always well fed, he always had a good showing at the marts, always got top prices. One quirk Harold had was that when his pigs were sold to the butchers, he'd accompany them to the abattoir and supervise their killing, he'd feed them to the guy with the humane killer, watch them despatched, he'd watch every last one, only then he'd give a grunt of satisfaction and leave, because of his size and demeanour, the abattoir staff remained silent, though they thought him fucking weird.

Harold wracked his brains, his last coherent memory was finishing a morning cup of tea, it was a Tuesday, in July, there was hay to bale, he felt tired, a little tight in the chest, age catching up maybe he thought and smiled ruefully...


Then fucking trotters. If Harold the piglet were able to fly, to levitate, he'd rise above his brethren, above the pen, high into the sky, he'd gaze down on the landscape, and if his piglet brain had the knowledge, he'd see a long, long land, encompassed by sea on three sides, the shape that of a boot:

Italy; home of Parma ham. Harold's Karma appeared to be Parma, no rueful smile from Harold this time, just a rictus grin...




  1. Anyone fancy a ham sandwich? The best vegan manifesto I've ever read. Brilliantly written, horrific, and very funny.

  2. Thanks Gareth, I’m delighted you enjoyed it!

  3. I have gone off bacon. Factory farming has taken over from small farms. No Charlotte's Web there. Harold is more of an anomaly today. I guess maybe he'll taste good. Funny story, with a message. What would be worse, waking up as a giant cockroach, for no apparent reason.

  4. an excellent and timely story with a vein of humour running thru it. it certainly is food (pun not intended) for thought and lifts the lid on some of the gratuitous practices in the industry.
    Mike McC

  5. Fantastic story! A serious message delivered both hilariously and gruesomely.

  6. Such a clever title. Perhaps we'd all better clean up our acts as this poor chap certainly paid for his callousness and cruelty. Our fate might be equally dire! Hope I don't dream tonight!!