Everyone, except Ada, knew Rosie to be just a pig. Ada’s ideal retirement for Rosie was to explore the ancient land of dragons by day, visit the kitchen for under-the-table dinner scraps, then dream by the fireplace.
At breakfast one dank April morning, Grandma suggested they have roast pork for Sunday lunch, complete with the traditional two vegetables and brown gravy made from the juices of the roasting meat. It was while Grandma chatted on about where she would insert the large rotisserie rod when Ada ran from the kitchen with Rosie close at her heels. “It will help tenderise the old sow,” Grandma continued.
Grandpa just wanted to take the old pig to the abattoir to recoup some of his loses. “After all, this is a working farm,” he muttered to himself as he shut the back door on his way out. His eyes scanned the countryside for two explorers. Despite himself, Grandpa envied the little girl. He had grown up in Beatrix Potter country with fantasies the author had created in the stunning Lake District. Bunnies and kittens would be more appropriate for Ada’s school holiday fun. He shook his head. “Maybe we should have stayed in Ambleside and took up trout farming.” He squinted into the fog that had settled over the bogs. He recalled his father’s favourite story that dated back to the 6th century. What was it, again? Oh, yes. St George rescued a young maiden by slaying a terrifying fire-breathing dragon. He slipped his hands into his warm pockets and wandered toward the main road.
Rosie was wearing an old house frock belonging to Grandma. It dragged along behind her in the dirt. Toilet roll tubes covered her pointy ears, and three black bows were tied to a lifeless tail. Ada‘s Wellingtons poked out from under her flowing medieval princess costume as they plodded down Old Kent Road. Her beaded necklace bounced in time with her head which was donned with a cone-shaped hat.
They stopped at the red telephone box just beyond the crossroads. “Oh Rosie, how could Grandma say such horrid things. I won’t let them eat you.” Ada stomped her foot splashing great blobs of mud onto their clothes. She stepped into the telephone box with Rosie close behind.
Lifting the telephone receiver, Ada dialled and waited.
Rosie grunted, wriggled and squeezed until she was jammed between Ada’s knees.
“Hello,” Ada shouted into the mouthpiece. “Please help me. They’re going to kill Rosie!”
The operator asked questions while Rosie fidgeted within the confinement of the telephone box.
“Please, come quickly,” Ada pleaded. “Lookout, Rosie!” With her finger in one ear she tried to listen. “No, it’s Rosie. Ow! Stop!”
The weight against Ada’s legs forced her downward until she straddled Rosie. They both fell sideways and their contorted bodies tangled with their costumes. Except for their legs, they were stuck. With the coiled telephone cord caught around her ankles, Ada continued to shout into the mouthpiece.
Grandpa considered the crossroad signs. Their farm was located two miles due east of the abattoir between Dover and Holyhead. He sniffed the thick foul air. “This neighbourhood is likened to the cheapest property on a Monopoly board.”
At that moment he heard an ear-piercing squeal, then a shout from Ada. He bolted toward the sound. Grandpa stopped in mid-step; his neck craned forward. There was someone or something in the telephone box—there were too many legs to count. He saw what looked like horns and a tail with blades. There was a lot of banging and bumping going on behind that mud and moss streaked glass.
“Oh my, it looks like a dragon!”
Ada screamed again jolting Grandpa from his trance. To avoid crushing his granddaughter, he slowly manoeuvred the door open. He reached in to grab Rosie’s tail and dragged her squealing from the booth.
Later, after the local Bobby wrote his report—and had a good laugh, Grandpa and Ada headed back to the farmhouse. Rosie walked noiselessly behind Ada, her head held low.
“Did you know, Ada, only 45-50% of animals at the abattoir can be turned into edible meat products, 15% is waste, and the remaining 40-45% is turned into by-products like bath soap, candles and glue? ‘Glue’ kinda suits our Rosie.”
“It’s okay, honey. I rather liked saving my princess from the dragon.” He winked at Ada. “I could be St. George. But first, we had better organise a chicken or two for Sunday lunch."
This fable is set in the north-east of England between Dover and Holyhead. Both are beautiful cities priding themselves in tourism. Yet, the road that links the two cities is a common bog region where only an abattoir, industrial warehouses and a few scattered farms exist.
Wellingtons are waterproof boots and are most often made from rubber.
A Bobby is an English slang term for policeman, usually a constable.
A bog refers to a quagmire or mire. A wetland type land that accumulates acidic peat and dead plant material—usually mosses.
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