BBC Radio 4 Today Programme - Saturday 7th June 2003
Dominic Arkwright - looks again at Animal
"Word had gone around in the mid 90s that Hartlepool, the
first of a new breed of pig, had had a strange dream the previous night and
had wished to communicate it to the other animals. Hartlepool was highly
regarded on the farm and everyone was eager to hear what he had to
"Let's face it, our lives are miserable. Mr
Major and all he stands for are evil. This is my message to you, Comrades.
Some months later, almost before they knew what was
happening, the rebellion had been succesfully carried through. The old farmer,
Mr Major, had been forced to flee the farm. Manor Farm was theirs. For
the first few months the animals could scarcely believe their good
The work of organising and teaching and handing out rations naturally
fell to the pigs. Pre-eminent among them were a young boar named Antony
and a large sow named Prudence. The best known of the others were
Hartlepool himself and a talkative young boar named Campbell who was responsible
for delivering news of all achievements to the other animals.
The others said of Campbell that he could turn black into white.
It was unanimously decided that Thumper, a large brute of a pig, should
become Deputy Leader. "Thumper" was not his real name but he had acquired
the nickname during an incident in which he had struck with one of his trotters
a chicken who had deliberately laid an egg on his back. Between them they
managed to reduce the principles of New Labourism to a few basic
"Whatever goes on two legs and reads the Daily Telegraph is an enemy;
whatever goes on four legs or has wings and reads the Guardian is a
"No animal shall be required to pay for reading and writing
" The farm shall entirely fund all veterinary services."
For several summers the animals toiled happily, eager to get the harvest in
earlier and raise even bigger crops than old Mr Major.
But after a while, some animals began to notice that, happy as they were,
their rations had not increased. And nor was there a noticeable improvement in
the quality of the stables or the pens. It was, however, observed that
some of the pigs didn't seem to face such hardships. One, known as
Chancellor, was even rumoured to have lined his sty with gold leaf. Others
appeared to own more sties than was fair.
One day, Billy, the old cart horse, was plodding past the
cowshed. ' I must be wrong," he murmured. Didn't Commandment 3
say "The farm shall entirely fund all veterinary services" and Number 4 that
lessons in reading and writing should be free to all piglets, foals ,
calves and leverets?'
Campbell was standing behind him. "You're mistaken Billy. Free
vets good; Foundation vets better!" - and the privilege of reading and writing
lessons for older foals shall be paid for by by the rations of horses thrifty
enough to save.
But wasn't this just what Mr Major would do? Billy wondered.
It was at about this time that some of the senior pigs suddenly moved into
the farmhouse itself. Again, the animals were conscious of a vague feeling of
uneasiness. Never to have any dealings with humans or adopt their
practices and lifestyle? Had that not been one of the earlies
Afterwards, Campbell set the animals' minds at rest. He assured them that
the resolution had never been passed or even suggested. Nevertheless, many
animals felt this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves to
overthrow the human run farm a few years ago.
A few months later, Antony was seen to emerge from the farmhouse wearing a
pin striped suit and bowler hat, holding an old copy of the Daily
Telegraph. Soon, other pigs began to be spotted engaging in similar
behaviour. It barely came as a surprise to anyone when first Antony and
then all the other pigs were seen walking on their hind legs, all dressed in pin
striped suits looted from Mr Major's wardrobe, all reading the Daily Telegraph
and all singing with gusto, "Farm of Hope and Glory" And the animals
looked from pig to man and from man to pig and from pig to man again - but
already it was impossible to say which was which."