Friday, 27 January 2012


Father and son clowns, Robert and Jake Morgan, from Oughterard, (53 degrees North, 9 degrees West) are pictured, on The Irish Times website, in suits and pig masks at a protest against the Irish state's payment of (another) Euro 1.2 billion to bondholders.

The pig with its snout in the trough is a potent image of greed. Adding a suit, a bowler hat and a folded umbrella to the image, connects it to City financiers internationally. While the image is accurate and appropriate, it is also unfair to pigs.

Pigs are gregarious, gentle animals, essential to farming and gardening the world over. They rout, forage and manure the ground, preparing it for planting. They disport themselves peacefully in the sun and they wallow gleefully in the mud, happy as the day is long. 

Problems only started to arise when, in 1728, the first one left the mud-hole.

This little piggy went to market......

and stopped caring about fellow piggies, who stayed at home.
This little piggy stayed at home,
Some piggies did well at the market.

This little piggy had roast beef,
And roast beef is the best. But not every pig benefited.
This little piggy had none.

There is a Big Bad Wolf out there. It turns out to be the market itself. It not only blows down your house of straw and your house of sticks, but it gobbles up yourself and repossesses your house of bricks, the one you bought at the market, encumbered with a huge mortgage. 

Or a large rent payable to a private landlord who has snouted up great quantities of public money in the form of Housing Benefit, one of the market's niftiest ploys for shifting public money into private hands. It's an idealogical dream for Tories.

There is a rallying call sounding, however. You see and hear it in the Occupy Movement and in the gestures of the Morgans from Oughterard. And even though George Orwell, quite properly, warned us to beware of greed, even among joyous pigs, he still chanted, with slight modifications

Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime, 
Hearken to my joyful tidings,
Of the golden future time.
Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Market o'erthrown,
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by beasts alone. 

There is also a Can't Pay, Won't Pay stir emerging in Ireland in the face of the the government's household charge. 

Nobel Prize winner, Dario Fo, would love that. He's fond of pigs.

One should never go into the sea without a pig! Because these animals have an unrivalled sense of direction. They can orient themselves in the sea, even in a storm. You throw them in the water and: TAK! They immediately point their snouts in the direction of the closest shore.... When they go: OINK, OINK, OINK! four times, you're headed to land, and they're never wrong.
And that's why the Genoese people say: On every ship you should always bring aboard an authentic pig.... besides the captain...who's just an ordinary pig.
Let us hang on to our pigs, our authentic ones, in the midst of the financial storm, until we disport ourselves peacefully in the sun and wallow gleefully in the mud, as the mega-rich do now.
Animal Farm; book; George Orwell; Penguin; 1996
Excerpt from Johan Padan; monologue; Dario Fo; 1991
Dario Fo and Franca Rame – Artful Laughter; book; Ron Jenkins; Aperture; 2001

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