The OED does not recognise “mysophilia”, but happily gives us:
mysophobia, n. Psychol. Irrational fear of dirt or defilement.
He first encountered the term some three years ago in the BBC website’s saga of Cinders. This comes with a brief, but uplifting video-clip of the star of today’s show. So, on with the motley:
A piglet scared of wallowing in mud has overcome its fears with the help of some Wellington boots.
Six-week-old Cinders appears to suffer from mysophobia, a fear of dirt, after refusing to join her siblings as they splashed around in the mud.
Owner Andrew Keeble from Thirsk, North Yorks, said his daughter Ellie, 12, suggested kitting her out in the tiny footwear which had been on a key ring.
“Lo and behold they fitted her like a glove,” Mr Keeble said.
“She’s scared of mud, but her brothers and sisters are quite happy in it.
“We’ve never come across this before. They are born ready to go and explore, but she never really liked going in the mud.”
Anyone heading for the Keeble farm at Thirsk would have a further trek across about ten miles of North Yorkshire to reach Bedale.
That BBC piece is a mini-epic, with a classic structure worthy of any well-plotted novel. After that up-beat intro, establishing character, we get the central crisis with its requisite frisson of fear:
Mr Keeble and wife Debbie, both 42, run a sausage company and keep about 200 pigs on their 1,000-acre farm.
Only then are we re-assured with the fade-out into the porcine silhouette in the sunset:
But the father-of-four said there was no chance that Cinders would be slaughtered.
“She’s more of a pet really now and she’s going to live a very long and happy life,” he said.
Ah, bless! Hold the apple sauce.
Cinders came back to Malcolm’s mind when Victoria Gill, Science and nature reporter, BBC News, posted this scientific break-through:
It is a true picture of contentment, and now a scientist is suggesting that a pig’s love of mud is more than just a way to keep cool.
A researcher in the Netherlands has looked at wallowing behaviour in pigs’ wild relatives to find out more about what motivates the animals to luxuriate in sludge.
His conclusions suggest that wallowing is vital for the animals’ well-being.
The study is published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
Marc Bracke from Wageningen University and Research Centre is propounding that pigs don’t wallow because they lack sweat-glands: on the contrary, they failed to develop sweat-glands because they do wallow.
Hence Malcolm’s suggestion that the scientific lexicon needs the term mysophilia. And, by next week, in the more sordid recesses of the internet, it may well have become a fully-fledged and recognised fetish.