The Long Pigs

By Nick Brooks

A black comedy about an overweight slaughterman’s love for a pig named Chip, and the fate this holds

Fiction | Humour
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Hamish, record-holding Lead Hammer at the local pig slaughterhouse is losing his touch. His tally of daily kills is slipping. Worse, his lodger, up-and-coming hammer man Galt has his eye on the top job, too. Not only that but his wife, Flora, seems to have taken a shine to this upstart. To top it all, Hamish has gone right off his food. Stewed pig, roast pig, boiled pig…is there no more to life than slaughtering pigs and subsisting on a diet exclusively derived from pig-products?

As Hamish’s grip on the top job begins to unravel, he finds new friendship with a porker named Chip. Well, if lifelong chum Black Angus is proving a bit shifty, and if the new robots at the slaughterhouse a few villages away continue to play up, why not get to know the animals Hamish has spent his life bashing over the head a bit better?

It’s up to Hamish to prove he still has what it takes, and to win back Flora and his job.

Standing in his way is the upstart Galt, his own comrades, and the whole slaughterhouse system itself.

But with the threat of mechanization looming over everyone heads, the first grumblings of discontent spread amongst the workforce.

Can Hamish take advantage of this situation and climb the greasy pole once again? And, he has to ask himself, does he even want to anymore?

Still, come what may, Hamish won’t let a few trifling details affect his relentless good humour. After all, he’s been in the pig-trade a long time, and he’s got a big birthday coming up.

The Long Pigs is the dark, Kafkaesque tale of Hamish the Hammer’s affection for a pig and the depths this will force him to mine, as he grapples with the big questions, like, ‘are you really what you eat?’ and ‘just how do write a book if you can’t find a decent desk to sit at first?’

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  • Nick Brooks avatar

    Nick Brooks

    Nick Brooks is the author of three previous novels and a poetry collection. Although he grew up in Glasgow, he has lived in Scotland, England, Spain (twice), Hungary, Malaysia and Slovakia. Twice the winner of Creative Scotland writers’ grants, everything seemed to be going swimmingly until he had a stroke in 2012. As a result of this brain-event, he now suffers from a motor-function disability. He still enjoys a curry and a beer, though perhaps not in the admittedly gargantuan quantities he did pre-stroke. We live and learn.

  • I had been feeling a bit out of sorts. By Thursday lunchtime I’d completely lost count. I never lose count. I kept a tally going at all times. For instance, on Monday the tally reached nine-hundred and fifty. A personal best. On Tuesday, it was eight- hundred and twenty-nine. A poor effort to drop into the low eight-hundreds. Something was amiss. By Wednesday I wasn’t entirely sure and had to check the card I marked with a bit of pencil stub. Was it eight-hundred and eighteen or nineteen? I couldn’t remember.

    And if I couldn’t keep tally how was I going to make up my quota? And if I couldn’t make up my quota how was I going to get paid?

    By Thursday, I gave up tallying by mid-morning but continued working til we shut for the day.

    Hadn’t I kept tally? Galt asked me.

    I did. I kept it in my head.

    ‘How many today then?’

    ‘Nine-hundred and twelve,’ I said.

    ‘Nonsense!’ he said. He was well aware I’d been two shy of the nine-hundred-mark.

    Since when did Galt even care how many I did? Cheeky bugger. He’d had his eye on my job for a while.

    But to be shy of nine-hundred had been the trend all week. I was normally right up there close to the nine-forties or higher. I’d been shaving a second or two off the total count for a few years. I was going to be the first man in history to nail a thousand! And I had been on track to get it, too. I was like clockwork. You could have set the time by me.

    Galt had been playing catch up for the whole of last year. He was always lurking about. When he first started work here I’d kept my eye on him. Now that lad has potential, I thought. He’d been a skinny little runt but he learned fast.

    I’d catch him watching my technique from the side of the factory floor. I didn’t mind. I was so far ahead of the game I didn’t think I had anything to worry about.

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