By James Owen
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Chanky Pig lived on a small farm in the South of England, not far from the
Market town of Birenchester. He was the happiest smiliest pig in the pen,
the others used to squeal,
'Hey Chanky, give us a smile and cheer us up!' and Chanky would wrinkle up
his snout and give them the biggest, happiest smile he could muster. The
other pigs would squeal in delight and run round and round and round waving
their wiggly tails and laughing at each other. This also made Chanky very
happy and he would smile harder and harder until his eyes were tight shut
and his snout started to go all white.
The pigs all had a very happy life because whenever they felt sad Chanky
would cheer them up with one of his magic smiles, but then with a terrible
event everything changed.
On a cold windy winter's day Chanky woke up to see all the other pigs being
rounded up by the farmer and his boy, they forced them into a huge metal
cage on the back of a lorry. The other pigs were squealing and snorting in
absolute terror and they were stamping on each other to try and escape.
Chanky looked on in disbelief, he was crying and squealing but he was locked
in his pen and couldn't go and help them. Chanky could see fear in the other
pig's tear glistening eyes and he tried to smile to reassure
them............and he tried...........and he tried. He wriggled his snout,
wiggled his tail, screwed up his eyes........but he couldn't smile, he could
The lorry pulled off from the farm gates, the other pigs were making the
most awful noise Chanky had ever heard and he fell to the ground
heartbroken, lonely, and scared. As the squeals subsided Chanky pushed his
face into the muddy floor and soaked it with his tears.
Later that day the farmer returned, the metal cage was empty apart from a
few muddy trotter-prints. Chanky lifted his face from the mud and stared at
the farmer, hoping for some explanation, some justification. The farmer
looked at him for a long while, lowered his eyes and removed his cap, and
'Chanky, you are too ugly to sell at market, your twisted grimacing face
would turn the stomach of even your own mother, the other pigs used to make
fun of you, but you never even noticed, you don't have the brains dear boy.
Chanky, you're my favourite you know, the runt of the litter who I dropped
by mistake, I'm afraid it's my fault that you are slightly retarded, and I
do feel sorry, but that's the way it is.'
Chanky's little heart sank, he suddenly realised how the other pigs had
laughed at him, how they derided him for his unusual looks and simple ways.
He sank deeper and deeper into a miserable state of mind, feeling sorry for
himself, and embarrassed by his own stupidity. Eventually he raised his head
and looked the farmer in the eye. The farmer seemed to notice some change in
Chanky, and he met his gaze directly. After some moments the farmer spoke,
'Chanky, the other pigs are dead now, they have all been turned into
sausages, they are butchered, packaged and sold already. You though, you
will live here forever because you are too ugly to sell, so count your
blessings young pig, count your blessings......' and with that he turned and
Chanky stared forlornly at the setting sun, in the course of one day his
life had changed forever.......he sat.......he watched.......he
Chanky began to smile, and the change that had come over him settled deep in
his heart. The old Chanky, who used to laugh and run with the others, was
pushed away inside, and a new expression crept across his face.
Chanky Pig was a strange kind of fellow. He became the kind of pig that
always hung around the farmyard, getting old and fat, while the other pigs
are sent for slaughter. In Chanky's case his preservation was due to the
fact of his supreme ugliness. Chanky had a face like a rotting potato, long
and pointed, with unprecedented growths and protrusions that took away any
kind of symmetry or balance. His teeth grew out of the sides of his mouth,
he had small bent ears that stuck up like little flags, his eyes were always
looking in different directions, and his chin had long growths of spiky hair
that were always covered in drool. The other pigs made sure to avoid him,
they knew that he was unlike the common swine in the pen, and he always had
an unsettling air of knowingness about him. Occasionally one of the stronger
pigs would say something about his looks or his perpetual smile, but Chanky
would just stare right back at them and stay silent, he did all his crying
Chanky knew that he would never be sent to market, the farmer always spoke
to him when he returned late on Wednesday evenings and recounted tales of
the day's business. Chanky loved this time best of all, he liked it when the
farmer boasted that,
'Those are some of the finest porker's I've ever reared, they're goin' to
make luverly sausages, absolutely luverly...'
At this point the farmer would drift off, a hungry look in his eye, and he
would then turn on his heel and head for the farmhouse shouting,
'Goodbye Chanky, there'll be a new load in next week!'
Chanky would feel really excited, his stomach would tie itself in knots, his
body would shiver right from his hairy head to his wiggly tail, and he would
run on the spot giggling to himself. He loved to think of all those other
pigs being cut into chops, ground into mince, packed into sausage skins, or
baked in pies. Chanky smiled at the dusk deepening sky and rolled his eyes
up into his head, before swooning in delight at the prospect of more little
swine to come.
The next week Chanky was woken earlier than usual by the sound of farm
machinery. He stood up immediately and scampered out of his sty into the
grassy area outside. At the fence Chanky pushed his snout through his usual
lookout hole and watched eagerly as the new arrivals were herded off the
lorry. The new pigs were scared and confused, the farmer and his boy had to
beat them with sticks so that they would run the right way. As they
approached the gate to the sty Chanky quietly crept to his favourite
observation point behind the feed trough and ducked down low so that they
wouldn't be able to see him.
The pigs came in like a winter tide, tumbling over one another in their
panic. When the last one was in, the farmer slammed the gate shut and leaned
over the fence. He looked over at the feed trough where Chanky was hiding
'Here's the new arrivals Chanky, make 'em welcome!'
The farmer and his son walked away laughing loudly with the good humour of
two men who have worked hard together all day. Chanky raised his head above
the trough and watched them leave, he was proud of the strong farmer who had
brought him new pigs. He looked around, the new arrivals were all staring at
him, open-mouthed and wide-eyed. He stared back, smiling as ever, and began
to walk towards them. Chanky saw handsome young pigs all around him, they
all looked at him as though he was a rat in the feed trough, some even
backed away in real fear. Chanky hated all these beautiful pigs, he knew
what was going to happen to them, and he knew that he wouldn't ever suffer
the same fate, but nevertheless they reminded him that he was different. The
pain of being different gnawed at Chanky daily, and it was making him more
and more unhappy.
As Chanky pushed through the staring crowd he caught sight of another pig,
standing outside the group. This pig, a sow rather, was the most beautiful
Chanky had ever seen. She had skin as pink as cotton candy, eyes that
sparkled like running water, and a tail as curly as a corkscrew. Chanky felt
himself go red with embarrassment as she lowered her big pink eyelids and
smiled at him. Chanky smiled back, feeling a buzz of electricity fizz along
his spine and out through his tail.
Over the next few weeks Chanky saw the beautiful sow every day, and although
he hated all the other pigs, she became the most important thing in his
life. Every morning they would pass each other at the trough, Chanky
standing at the far end, as he always did. Every morning she smiled at him,
and Chanky always smiled back. Eventually, Chanky decided that he was going
to talk to her, he knew he couldn’t go through the rest of his life without
doing so. That night Chanky stayed awake late, worrying and excited about
what he wanted to do the next day.
Next morning Chanky awoke as usual and trotted out into the yard, his heart
was pounding, and the blood that rushed around his head was making him feel
faint and dizzy. He was so nervous in anticipation of talking to the
beautiful sow that he didn’t notice the feeder had not been filled, the
water trough was empty, and the farmer’s truck had gone.
Chanky Pig ran over the green hill behind the pigsty as fast as his legs
could carry him, he was blinded by the tears that started to flow as soon as
he realised what had happened to his beloved sow. Chanky ran heedlessly
towards the horizon, he never wanted to stop, he wanted to run and run until
he collapsed and passed away, so that his thoughts would never catch him.
His beautiful sow was gone. He had never even spoken to her, too slow to get
to know her. He stopped suddenly and fell to the ground, breathless, lost,
and alone. Chanky’s thoughts were rushing around his head like woodlice
suddenly brought into the open. He couldn’t control his anger and sorrow, he
did his very best to quell the rising passion within him, but his long
period of denial was over. Chanky knew, as he slipped into sleep, that when
he awoke things would seem very different.
Some time later Chanky arose, it was getting dark and cold. In the distance
Chanky could see the outline of the buildings in the big city. Chanky had
heard tales of this place from the farmer’s dogs, who told him that there
were pig-stys the size of mountains, and that it was light even at night,
lit by a thousand tiny suns. He headed in the direction of the city with a
sense of hope for the future, and a conviction that perhaps he would find
Time passed, seasons changed, the big city rumbled on through the days,
uncaring, brutal and cold-hearted.
Chanky Pig sat alone and neglected in a dirty alleyway. The nooks and
crannies of the big city had harboured him since his flight from the farm
after the night that his sow was taken. Crystalline tears dribbled down his
snout and plopped onto the tyre dusty asphalt. He watched the droplets as
they made a little pattern on the ground, running into one another and
growing gradually larger. Chanky was alone, really alone. He had been lonely
before, he had been lost, he had been scared, he had even been lonely and
lost and scared all at one time, but he had never been truly alone. The
tears carried on plopping into the dust as Chanky began to give up all hope
of finding a home.
Then, suddenly, and without warning, a bright light illuminated the
alleyway. Chanky's tear-filled eyes were dazzled by it and he had to put his
trotter across his face to be able to see. The light seemed to pulsate and
grow, shining so brightly that Chanky could feel its power on his skin.
Then, in a gracious and orchestrated manner, a figure approached through the
glare. The figure seemed to have no form, no substance, but it began to
merge with the light, absorbing it and solidifying until there was no light
left, just a man.
The man looked at Chanky with eyes that seemed to swallow your thoughts and
'Be at peace pig, you are not lost, none of God's creatures are ever truly
lost, they are all safe under the watchful gaze of the Lord. You are as
important to the Lord as any of his creations and will be offered the same
concern. There is no place for sorrow here, you should rejoice that you have
time alone to consider the incredible gift of life that has been entrusted
Chanky looked at the man in awe, he had never seen anyone so wonderful, even
the farmer had not filled Chanky with such happiness. The very presence of
this wonderful man was enough to turn Chanky's thoughts from deepening
depression to happiness. The world seemed to sink under his curly-tailed
behind as Chanky sat and stared into the eyes of this incredible stranger.
Then, the stranger spoke again,
'Chanky, for I know that is your name, why have you been so cruel?'
Chanky didn't know where to look, he was surprised to be addressed by his
name when this stranger could not possibly have known it. He stared up at
the man again, and suddenly little pieces of the alleyway began to
disappear. The dustbins vanished in a misty haze, the damp, cold, brick
walls exploded in a shower of tiny stars and he was no longer in the dirty
alleyway. Clouds and flowers were swirling around Chanky's head and
multi-coloured birds were flying past singing operatic bird-song. As far
into the distance as he could see, the sky was flooded with radiant gold
light. Chanky couldn't believe his eyes and as he tried to comprehend what
was happening, the man spoke again.
'You could have died in that alleyway Chanky, but I am prepared to give you
one more chance. You were a very good pig until that fateful evening of the
farmer's revelation. The other pigs treated you very harshly, I understand
that, but it does not excuse you from anything. Chanky, you must make
amends, you must do penance for this or you will never again find real
Chanky wiped the tears from his snout with a grubby trotter and with a
lop-sided grin gave the man his most quizzical expression. The man smiled
right back and said,
'I know what you're thinking Chanky, who am I? Well, that is a question that
I have no need to answer, you will find out who I am in good time. Chanky my
friend, if you turn your life around now, I promise we will meet again, and
I will tell you my name.'
Chanky smiled a smile that he felt warm him deep inside, the shallow, sorry
form of happiness he used to feel drifted away like a summer shower, leaving
his mind clear and ready for change. Chanky knew that he had to go out into
the world and make a difference, and he had an idea of just how.
Seconds after Chanky realised how his life should progress, the clouds,
birds, and golden light were all gone, as was the man. Chanky found himself
back in the dirty, cold alleyway.
This time though, the alleyway had a very different feel, it had potential
that was not there before. Chanky looked around and saw that there were
others in the same position as him. A skinny chicken was propped up in a
corner, coughing profusely. A mangy dog was biting furiously at its ravaged
coat. A battle-scarred alley cat hissed at him and bared its claws, and in
the furthest corner of the alley Chanky saw a young beaver trying to keep
out the cold night air by huddling deeper and deeper into a filthy pile of
'Friends' cried Chanky, eliciting very little response, 'Friends, we are all
very badly off here, we must raise ourselves from this place and better our
He looked around at the assembled animals, they were all looking at him now,
presuming him to have eaten some funny mushrooms whilst foraging. Their
faces showed absolute dejection, years of struggling to survive had worn
down their hope. Chanky sighed, he wanted to help, he wanted to achieve
something. Then, unexpectedly, the cat spoke up.
'Mr Pig!' announced the cat in a spiky, street tough voice, 'I am quite
willing to better myself, but why would I require your assistance to do so,
Chanky replied calmly and in what he thought was his most leader-like tone,
'Mr Cat, it is well known indeed that the feline is a competent and hardy
survivor. A fine hunter...a sharp thinker. But imagine how...easy....your
life would be with three others to share the work.'
The cat looked at all three others, sat down, licked a paw thoughtfully, and
'I see your point Pig, I am not entirely.... err.....shall we say not
entirely OPPOSED to the occasional nap or an easy life. Perhaps you have a
good idea. I would be willing to TRY for a while at least, but I have no
time for leaders, a cat like myself is an independent creature, untamed,
unpredictable, you know the score....'
'I do, I do!' said Chanky. 'We shall form a loose alliance, there will be no
'But I really want one!' bellowed the dog with alarm. 'I need someone to
work for, I can't deal with all this wandering around finding stuff to eat.
I will happily follow you Mr Pig, as long as you take me somewhere better
than this alley.'
The beaver and the chicken looked at each other, and then, in perfect
unison, smiled and promised to follow Chanky.
The animals set off into the night, walking one behind the other they formed
a bedraggled and rather half-hearted crew. Chanky walked in front, standing
as tall as he could and turning round often to try and cheer up the others.
When the crew looked tired Chanky would use his magic smile to cheer them
up, and this time he knew they appreciated it. No one made fun of Chanky,
they saw him as their leader, and he didn't look ugly to them, he looked
fierce and proud.
After several days they came to the woods, dark green, wet, and unfamiliar.
Chanky stopped on a grassy knoll that allowed a clear view of their future
home. He turned to the animals, and when they had all shuffled into line and
stopped panting he spoke,
'Friends, this is our future home!' declared Chanky, sweeping his hand
dramatically across the horizon. 'We shall want for nothing here, as long as
we can work together.'
The animals looked at one another, nodding and murmuring agreement.
'I promise to go hunting every day and catch us all we can eat!' meowed the
'I promise to guard our territory and sniff out enemies!' growled the dog.
'I promise to gnaw down trees and build a wonderful house!' chattered the
‘I promise to do my best at whatever I do!’ clucked the chicken.
Chanky smiled with pride, gave each animal a pat on the head and said,
'I promise to do all I can to keep our spirits lifted and our dream alive!'
Then, all the animals trooped into the forest, where the beaver began to
gnaw down trees, the dog patrolled the area to make sure it was safe, the
cat disappeared into the undergrowth in search of prey, and the chicken
scratched around finding nuts and berries. Chanky found a beautiful clearing
in the woods where shafts of dusty golden sunlight shone onto a lush mossy
floor. He instructed beaver to make their home there, and then started
gathering rocks and sticks to aid in the construction.
That evening, the animals sat around a fire, eating the fish that the cat
had caught, in their new home that beaver had built, listening to the
chicken tell stories, and feeling safe because the dog had patrolled the
area. They were all content, they were all happy. Chanky looked around the
fire and with a smile he said,
'Friends, this is the happiest I have ever been. I have learnt a lot about
life in recent times, and I think I know how it should be lived. It is no
good to live in ignorance, although you may be happy, and knowing the whole
truth can be disturbing. It is no good to live in anger, because eventually
you will shrivel up inside and suffer yourself what you made others suffer.
It is no good to live in denial, for you will only be denying yourself a
chance to be you. No, to be happy you must understand all these things and
use them to understand yourself. I know that I can cheer people up, that I
can bring people together, dog knows that he can guard others, cat knows she
can hunt, beaver knows that he can build, and chicken knows that she always
help us all. We are all good at something, and when we find that we should
use it. If we use what we know for others, then we bring happiness to
Chanky fell silent, smiling, he knew now who the man was that appeared in
the alley way, and he felt certain that he had met him again, in the company
of friends. The others all smiled too, and they all knew, deep in their
hearts, that they would be smiling, together, forever.
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