So. My essay was the one that won in the school.  So I’ve got to ‘polish’ it and get it ready for the real competition. Against other schools. Other children who are probably suffering just like me and none of us probably want to do it or be the cultural elite or even the digital masses. But I bet there’s not a boy or girl wants to go to Edinburgh Castle as much as I do. Or wants to keep his head out the toilet as much as I do. The boy’s toilet in TattyBogle Primary is not a nice place to be, and certainly not to have your head put down.  My mum says pigs are kept in better conditions.

My dad tells he she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  It’s what’s called a bone of contention in my family. Because my mum likes pigs. Her granddad kept pigs. And she’d like to keep pigs too.  She married a farmer and she expected pigs as part of the deal. Well, you would right?  But apparently pigs don’t ‘thrive’ in our environment my dad says.  My mum says the only reason pigs don’t thrive round our way is because my dad doesn’t like them and won’t have them and is obsessed with stupid sheep.  At least they both agree on cows. We all like cows. Except the mean one I’ve called EMILY well MRS EMILY to give her her full title and since she’s a cow she has to be a she. But it’s a clever disguise. She’s the meanest cow in the herd and Mr EM is the reason I’ve called her that. But no one will ever know. I haven’t even told John.

My dad doesn’t like us naming the cows. Not even the one’s we have to hand rear. He likes the cows and that (certainly more than he likes the idea of pigs) but he reminds us all the time that they are ‘a crop’ not pets.

My mum, more  than anything wanted a micro pig for her birthday. She was forty. It was time, she said to finally ‘get what she wanted’ out of life. Now, one little micro pig, even as a pet, you’d think that wasn’t too hard for a man to do for his wife of twenty years would you? And normally I’d take my dad’s side but this time I thought he did the wrong thing. He couldn’t get past the idea that a micro pig would be ‘the thin end of the wedge’ and soon we’d be over-run by them. Which is daft.  But then, sometimes I’ve noticed that grown up’s get like that. Mr EM called it ‘fixed positions,’ and ‘inflexible minds’ and suggests that it’s a characteristic of the people of TattyBogle and DrumTumshie.  Because of course Mr EM comes from a city. Probably a City of Culture.  No one knows why he left. But we all wish he’d go back there and stop trying to Create Culture in TattyBogle.  We’re happy with our amateur culture here. We don’t’ need professionals telling us how to live our lives. My dad says we do fine living our lives on our own.

And normally I’d agree with him. Except on this matter of the birthday micro pig.  Which my mum didn’t get. Guess what he bought her instead? You’ll never guess. It was… drum roll… A Kindle. He got it at Tesco because my dad doesn’t do shopping and it was there in his face when he went in desperate in search of some flowers. He doesn’t do flowers either. But he does whisky and there was a special offer on and someone told him of it and he thought he’d kill a few birds with the same stone and get my mum her present.  Silly really, because he doesn’t do supermarkets or shopping but he does do auctions and he could have got a micro pig really easily, though of course then he wouldn’t have got the whisky.  Have I lost you yet? I’m losing myself.  The last word on the micro pig that didn’t come to live in our house is that apparently they don’t exist anyway. Turns out, my dad says, there’s no such thing as a micro pig. It’s not like a breed like a Shetland Pony. It’s just genetic freak of nature and bad breeding and all that. And my dad knows about bad (and good) breeding cause he’s got a ram that’s made a packet at the local sales and even though all the sheep look ugly to me, people come from miles around to gawk at them.

So. A Kindle it was. And that turned round and bit us all on the bum worse than any pig, micro or otherwise would. Because it’s turned my mum into a reading junkie. How do I know? Well, because I had this plan and it backfired on me. Like most of my plans. I take after my dad on that one, but I don’t think it means he’ll be proud of me.  It’s hard to be proud of a son who shows you your own failings in miniature isn’t it?

Usually at breakfast there’s not a lot of chat in my house. We have it at about eight o clock. Even in holidays. That’s because my dad is up at four for the ‘beasts’ and so by eight o’clock it isn’t even really breakfast time for him, it’s time for ‘a brew’ and a sit down. He hopes that he’s fed all the beasts by eight and if he hasn’t he’s in a bad mood and doesn’t want to speak.  And right now, he’s ‘training’ my brother John to feed and count the beasts.  John’s finished with school remember. John’s not that interested. John thinks that as long as we know we have 100 cows and 600 sheep why would we need to count them every day?  And training John means that my dad isn’t getting his cattle fed by eight in the morning so he’s usually in a bad mood. John’s in a bad mood because he’s had to get up at four in the morning to count 100 cows. I didn’t know John could count to a hundred actually. My dad is of the same opinion.

It turns out there’s a good way to count cows in the field. What you do is not stand there on your tractor or quad bike and try and count as they run around past you, no, you take the food and you spread it out on the ground and they all come and line up and then you count them. See, I told you my dad is a professional man.

So here we are at breakfast.

‘Where’s my Kindle?’ mum asks. She looks like someone’s just removed her heroin needle. I swear she’s shaking.  We did drugs last year for our project. I don’t mean we took them of course, I mean that they told us all about them and how bad they were even though they made you feel good. I thought that was a rubbish project but I’d rather be doing drugs again than culture and literature and all that stuff. Believe me. Culture is much harder than drugs.  And my mum looks like she’s having serious withdrawal symptoms.

‘Has anyone seen my Kindle?’ she asks.

I have two options here and I’m not sure which to pick. I can tell the truth and say that I’ve got it. This had been my original plan. Take the Kindle. (No, not take it hostage mum, it’s not that important, surely? ) Take the Kindle. Pretend to have been reading it and learning and so find a ‘point of connection’ between my mum and me. I was sure that would work. Get her on my side to help with competition project about Culture and Literature and that. But it’s looking like I’ve not thought things through properly. Like when dad told John to tie the Bull to something heavy and he tied it to himself.  And the bull was about to take off with him till my dad stepped in to save the day.  I think John’s not a natural thinker. Or a natural farmer.

I’m off my point.  I think I need to change to plan B. Mum looks like if I tell her I’ve had her Kindle she’ll kill me so I’m going to do the other thing. Find the Kindle. Then I will have saved her culture and from the way she’s going on, maybe even saved her life. And then, when she’s good and grateful I’m going to do that thing we all resort to at least once in our life when things get tough – I’m going to get my mum to help me with my homework.  The Kindle and my mum combined will win me the trip to Edinburgh Castle. I’m sure of it.

If you’re enjoying Jack then go to his Facebook Page and Like him. He’ll be back with another Tale from TattyBogle tomorrow same time, same place. 

Till then, get yourself over to the World Writers Conference where today I’m reliably informed they are talking about National Literature. Should be a blast!