It’s quite possible that Lord Emsworth first inspired me to become a pig farmer. I remember travelling by train through Italy as a teenager with only P G Wodehouse as my companion and laughing so much that the Italians called me “il pazzo Inglese”. My hero, of course, was Lord Emsworth, the batty aristo whose main aim in life was to win the “Fat Pig” category in the local show with The Empress of Blandings. And so it was natural that the first animals I bought were pigs. I went along to our local show, the Westmorland, and when a farmer from Tarporley won “Best in Show” with a Middle White sow, I persuaded him to sell me the winner’s litter. The Middle White breed is ugly, as the picture here shows, and small, as many rare breeds are (which is why they became rare).
Middle Whites never become large. The Empress of Blandings on the other hand was huge. In the books she’s a Berkshire, a breed which is much more photogenic than the Middle White. It’s a mystery therefore why the producers of the new “Blandings Castle” series have chosen a Middle White in the starring role. It’s a bit like getting Twiggy to play Hattie Jacques.