Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here's A Health To...The Porpentine! or: Farewell, Porkchop

Cute Porcupine Guy, originally uploaded by ice.bluess.

Nine days' worth of things happened in the three days of the Bristol Renaissance Faire's closing weekend, but one of my favorite farewells happened to involve this sleepy li'l curmudgeon, our friend, Porkchop the Porpentine (which is a Porcupine, but 450 years ago).

On Monday, Bristol's closing day, I had been involved in hijinks that kept me close to the North side of town, and so as the shadows began to stretch into autumnal afternoon, I made a determined stomp Southward, to try to visit every neighborhood I'd neglected earlier in the day. Having already achieved my 100th language for "bad monkey" (full story later), I trundled through Shoplatch Lane, greeted people in the High Street, and reached the crossroads of The Frightening Bridge and the middle road in Traders' Wharf. I decided this might be my best chance to have one last beviewment of Porkchop before Fall carried Her Grace and Court off to Barkley Castle, so I swung over toward the Petting Farm.

The Farm was jammed with excited critters and happy children, and a longish line of people waited for a visit with the goats, piggies, lemurs, pastel skunklets, and fluffy wee Highland coo. I approached the lass tending the gate and asked if Porkchop were receiving guests -- I anticipated disappointment, as I knew he had been grumpy earlier that day and had received a "time-out," which is funny to me, 'coz you can't take the "chop" out of "Porkchop," can you?

She reported that Porkchop, alas, was napping, in a bucket, which is terribly cute of him you must admit. I smiled sadly and asked her to please tell him "goodbye" for me when he woke, and then thanked her and went on my way.

Mere steps away I encountered small crowds of well-wishers, wanting to know if I'd gotten 100 languages for "bad monkey" yet, and hoping the Queen was liking her birthday presents, and so forth, and I hadn't gotten more than a block away from the Petting Farm when I suddenly heard, "Jane!" We all looked up, and here was the Master of the Porpentine, hurtling toward us, a very sleepy Porkchop in his arms.

My eyes filled with happy tears, and a crowd whooshed in around us, marvelling at the slumbering so-soft-looking Porpentine. We all pet Porkchop, very tentatively like you do when you know that the fluffy fur hides a tiny painful pike-block, and I found myself rattling off every fact I knew about the Porpentine, sounding very much like an even sillier David Attenborough, as all gathered around and enjoyed the cute face and fluffulence of the dozing 'Tine.

Finally, I looked up at the handler and said, "You know, all this season we've made such an enormous fuss over Porkchop, celebrating him with tales and songs and pageantry, and yet, through all of it, I've been so thoughtless as to never ask your name!" He smiled and said he was called Jason. I addressed the company then, saluting Master Jason, Master of Porkchop the Porpentine, and regaling the crowd with how his tender care of the beast had brought him to the notice even of the Queen of England, and how Her Majesty had bade us gift him with the vambraces that protect Jason's arms from the monstrous chompers of the Porpentine.

Delighted by this last reunion, and grieved to part, I thanked Jason one more time for his patience with our silly obsession with this cutest of curmudgeonly creatures. We exchanged sad smiles, and I turned toward the North again, to bid a few more farewells before addressing myself to Her Grace for a last Bristol audience. But all the while the day lasted, I thought of Porkchop, the Porpentine of Bristol, and the joy he'd brought us with every prickle and every chomp during this Her Majesty's Royal Progress. Merry meet, merry Porkchop, and merry meet again!

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