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I never thought I would live to see the day when the only good pig would be a dead one via pork chops, ham cutters, babecued ribs, pudding and souse, pickled trotters, babecued pig tails, pork stew, harslit (liver and heart) with cou cou, and so on. When the poor animal is a alive we look at it in a whole different light. We see the pig as being the most despised of all animals and use it as a reference point for insulting each other and as a reference for the basest elements of human behaviour. For example, if somebody is eating sloppily we refer to it as eating like a pig or pigging out. One who is not too fussy about good housekeeping is said to be living in a pig pen. The obese woman is a fat pig and the similarly endowed man is a big guts pig. A person who mashes your foot in the party and doesn’t apologise is an unmannerly pig. A person who jumps the line or pushes his way through the crowd is a boar hog. If his perspiration also smells ripe, he is sweaty like a pig. This negative perception of the pig alive has also been the source for many an insulting joke, such as the one about an unkempt street character who walks into a shop with a duck under his arm and orders a snap of white rum. When the shopkeeper spots the duck, he shouts at the man: “Why the hell you bring that stinking pig in here to dirty up my place?” Without saying a word, the man slowly throws the snap down his throat, slowly wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, slowly looks at the shopkeeper, slowly takes the duck from under his arm and slowly puts it on the counter in front of him. Then he slowly asks the shopkeeper: “You blind or something? That look like I pig to you? You can’t see that is a duck?” Then staring back at the man, the shopkeeper slowly replies, “ sorry, skipper, but I was not talking to you. I was talking to the duck.” So, in a situation where people who are strangers to social values, the graces, good manners, acceptable behaviour and so on are referred to as pigs, sows, hogs and swine, it is indeed nice to see NISE launch a campaign which could very well end up making the pig just as acceptable and enjoyable alive as dead. Welcome Polite Percy, the pig currently the centre of attraction in NISE’s (National Initiative for Service Excellence) Live Excellence campaign, which is aimed at restoring to our vocabulary phrases like “excuse me”, “thank you”, “I am sorry” and “may I help you” among the attitudes that once charaterised us as a unique people. But would you believe that pigs don’t “eat like pigs”. They are not sloppy eaters at all and are even described as gourmets because of their love to enjoy food. They don’t gulp it down, like people do a hot piece of cou cou, and they chew it slowly. As far as being dirty animals is concerned, the reason why pigs wallow in mud is that they don’t “sweat like pigs”. Mud helps them to cool off and it is said that if they had the choice they would rather bathe in clean water. Good luck, Polite Percy. • Al Gilkes is head of a public relations firm.