Today I’m going to tell you a story that spans more than thirty years.
A story of a child’s unfulfilled frustration and disappointment.
A tale of never-ending hope.
But to begin our story, let me take you back to the mid-1980s…
Our story begins in Leeds, with an only child, a shy little poor girl from a single-mother family: me.
I’d always dreamed of having a better life.
Of being as lucky and wealthy as the rest of the kids in my class.
Of actually being able to have some money of my own.
So when the National Westminster Bank ran a campaign which encouraged children to save money in their own account, I saw my chance to make a start.
The incentive to save was strong; you received a new ‘piggy bank’ for coins in the form of pottery pigs every time you reached the next saving milestone.
I opened an account with my £5, received the first pig: Woody the baby, and got cracking collecting my coins.
In time, I saved £25, and Natwest sent me Annabel the pig through the post. This was great.
I kept going, saving my limited pocket money, and finally reached £50, put my savings in the bank, and the next pig Maxwell arrived to reward me for my efforts.
All was going well.
I kept saving hard for the last two pigs; you needed £75 to get Lady Hillary and then £100 meant you received Sir Nathaniel Westminster and thus completed the set.
And then we hit a stumbling block.
Which meant I never ended up getting the last two pigs.
I don’t quite remember exactly what went wrong, because I was young and it is over thirty years ago. But although my saving continued to go well, alas, mine and my mother’s lives did not.
I did have my money saved up for the next pig, but sadly, the savings never reached the bank – because I had to keep lending my mum them to pay for food and living costs. And this pattern kept repeating.
So I never completed my planned set of piggy banks, and then the campaign offer ended in 1988, meaning my set was to remain incomplete forever.
Somehow shit just goes wrong in life – and I hold no resentment against my mum; children can’t be fed on fresh air, she did what she had to do.
I felt sad and disappointed about this, but I also learnt a valuable lesson about life’s priorities and financial management.
But have you ever felt such burning disappointment of failure?
So strong that it still causes you bitterness thirty years later?
That is how I felt about my incomplete set of pigs.
Meanwhile my three little piggies followed me around as I grew up, surviving 8 house moves into adulthood, but always having pride of place in my bedroom.
A reminder of what I achieved, and of what could have been.
And although circumstances meant it wasn’t my fault, those three little piggy children were seemingly nagging and taunting me of how I should have done better.
I should have tried harder. Somehow.
And I know this probably sounds ridiculous to you, readers: getting annoyed over some piggy banks?
But for me, they represented one major feeling: failure.
If you’ve met me in real life, you’ll know that I hate failure.
Leaving things incomplete.
Not finishing things, not doing what I said I would.
It just does not sit right with me – and so I always do my best to achieve things.
And just like in childhood, many things often go wrong for me, no matter how hard I try – but I continue to try, because it’s a better option than giving up.
Failure’s only permanent once you stop trying.
So bearing this in mind, I decided a couple of years ago to try and complete the set.
I looked in charity shops, on eBay, and continued to witter on to my friends about these pigs.
But because Wade Pottery didn’t make as many versions of Lady Hillary and Sir Nathaniel – they were in fewer demand because not many children reached the coveted £100 – these pigs were few and far between.
And if you reached the full set, then like me, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to part with them either. And those people that did want to sell them were charging an extortionate amount for them.
So time, patience and persistence were required.
On Christmas Day 2019, I was absolutely delighted to unwrap the final two pigs Lady Hillary and Sir Nathaniel.
A gift from my friend Nicola, who, having known of my pig-wittering for nearly three decades, had managed to source them somewhere.
I’ll be no-holds-barred brutally honest here: I was utterly fucking delighted.
This was a big deal to me.
Sometimes, although you know it will make no logical sense to onlookers, there’s some things in life that mean a great deal to you – and Nicola helping me complete my set is one of those occasions.
So I’ve wanted to write this blog since Christmas day.
And, as I rightly predicted I would, I have beefed all over the keyboard.
I can’t even tell you why.
Delight of completion, thirty years of disappointment over, the finishing touch to success, maybe?
My five pigs, all together now as a happy family, a complete set.
And I’m superbly chuffed about it.
So, what’s the moral of the story?
What lessons can we learn from this little piggy anecdote?
Money management is a key skill to master in life.
Sometimes life goes wrong. We have to gerronwi’it anyway.
Things don’t always get completed as quickly or successfully as you would like. Expect the unexpected.
Time, patience, and persistence will eventually pay off – even if it is thirty years later.
Only death is unfixable. Everything else can be fixed, in time.
If something is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Don’t ever, ever, ever give up on what you want. X
Thanks for reading!
If you’d like to know more about the history of Natwest’s pigs, see here.
Finally, one massive thank you to Nicola for helping me finish my piggy bank set.
I really appreciate it.
And another thank you, to all my friends and family who always support me and my plans and ideas… no matter how crackers some of them might be….
….THANK YOU!!! x x x