23. Old Friends – 26 November 2012

The man who “sodomised” Snout turned out to be delightful.   Snout and I had taken refuge out of the rain and we were lying on the red plastic tiles of the Dining Tent, when I spied a man dressed up as a Florentine magistrate.  Up I jumped and introduced myself as Snout’s owner, fixing this man with a beady look as I shook him by the hand. Simon immediately ignored the call from an assistant to go on set and came and rubbed Snout on the head.  “What a lovely pig”, he remarked “and she’s so pretty too”.  ”Not ‘She’ ”, I said firmly.  “He”.  “Oh dear”, Simon sighed sadly. “Bestiality. Homosexuality. It’s not turning out to be a good day”, and with flap of his magistrate’s robes he dived through a nearby doorway and into Swansea’s very own version of Renaissance Florence.

Snout and I then wandered back to the trailer where Crackling was lying fatly in the straw.  Crackles’ job was simply to accompany Snout to Swansea and joking apart, keep him calm.  As Snout and Crackling go everywhere together, I wanted to make sure that their routine was as uninterrupted as possible.  And they were such a good little band of brothers!  The minute Gerry pulled up in the dark, outside our home, with the trailer attached to his bumper, they piled in without a second’s thought, trotters clattering up the metal ramp.

We drove at a stately speed down the whole of the M4, arriving at about one in the morning at the Swansea Gate Park, a derelict car factory on the outskirts of the city.  Large vacant buildings, their glass windows smashed to pieces were strung out along pot-holed roads.  We bumped slowly along, weaving in between gloomy grey concrete walls until we emerged into a trailer park, filled with lorries, cars and all the vehicular chaos that accompanies every film set.  I was instantly struck by how similar the whole site was to fifteenth century Florence.

I allowed Snout and Crackling out of the trailer to stretch their legs and went in search of some hot water, wandering into the Production Trailer and filling up my bucket from their sink.  Film sets are hierarchical places and in daylight hours, no ordinary mortal, let alone the dirty owner of a Kune Kune, would dare enter the Production Office in search of hot water.  However in the wee small hours, there was not an Assistant Director in sight and I filled my bucket and ambled happily back to my pigs.

Having drunk and eaten, both Snout and Crackling climbed back into the trailer and Gerry and I fell back into his car and headed for the Hotel Ibis for a few hours’ sleep.

The call time the following morning was 7am.  We went onto set at 4pm.  In the intervening nine hours, Snout and Crackling and I wandered around the grass, pottered in between the trailers and cadged apples off the catering staff. We met Snout’s understudy, a pretty pig with the long nose of a Duroc but the colouring of a very pale Tamworth.  She had come to Swansea just in case my pig was unable to perform.  By “perform”, I mean stand still in some stocks and let Simon actually do the “performing”.  I wasn’t worried that Snout would bottle it.  He’s a very sanguine pig.  The pretty pig was good on a leash but a little nervy and in the event she wasn’t needed on set.    This was a good thing because the scenes in the magistrate’s court were illuminated with phosphorescent flares and I think Pretty Pig would have jumped out of her furry skin.

By the time Snout was called into the gloom of the erstwhile Ford factory and we had carefully made our way over hundreds of cables, Simon was bereft of his magistrate’s robes and instead was wearing a cuddly dressing gown.  As the 1stAD shouted for the pig to be brought on set, Snout and I scuttled (or at least I scuttled and Snout shifted easily, his head swaying from side to side) into the “court”.  Snout mounted the stocks, lowered his head into the bucket of food at one end and ignored the now naked Simon crouching over his nether regions and a livid-looking actor playing the part of Leonardo, who was hovering above them both.

There followed a relatively long speech by “Leonardo”, who became increasingly demented, while Simon’s and Snout’s haunches became one and the same, as Simon played the part of an angry and agitated magistrate and Snout played the part of a pig eating a lot of good food out of a wooden bucket.

“Cut” and “Reset” were shouted loudly and Simon’s dignity was restored with the return of his furry dressing gown.  Snout, unaware that his dignity had been compromised in any way at all, allowed himself to be led away and we did a little turn around the monitors that were set up to one side of the set.

Then came the moment when “Leonardo” was to illuminate the whole setting with a flare.  There were to be two flares and we would start with the smaller of the two, the 1st AD suggested. Sensible man.  I had a bad feeling that my pig was going to be off at the speed of light as the spark hit the fuse.  But I led my pig on, parked him in his stocks and sped into my dark corner away from the cameras.  A member of the crew lit the flare, handed it to “Leonardo” and my spine stiffened as he waved it wildly above his head.  Snout ate contentedly.  The actor leapt around. Snout ate contentedly.   The flare expired. Snout ate contentedly.

So now for the second flare.  Same old, same old:  Snout on set; Simon, his birthday suit on, crouching over the pig; “Lights! Camera! Action!”  The large flare ignited with a bang and Snout started forward with surprise.  Simon stroked his back in a gentle way and Snout realised that food was quite the best option and that the noise was nothing to fret about.

He earned his money, did Snouty and he was brilliant.  Cast and crew congratulated him and the director was quite smitten (I am ridiculously biased, I know, but I’m prepared to bet good money that the director was quite smitten).  With the whole barmy business concluded, I said to Simon, that were he and his family to ever find themselves in West London, they would be  welcome to come and visit Snout and Crackling in more congenial surroundings.   That would be lovely, Simon thought.  As a matter of fact, they were all coming up to the Shepherd’s Bush area for a Thanksgiving lunch with friends; friends who happened to live four doors down from us.

And so yesterday afternoon, I pottered over to Kate and Richard’s house and came back with twenty or so of their friends who had been celebrating Thanksgiving. And there was Simon, resplendent in a checked, tweed suit and an orange cashmere jumper, looking so very different from the last time I had met him.  Simon and Snout didn’t actually get much of a chance to develop their friendship as Simon’s nine-year old daughter stole her father’s thunder and Snout and Crackling crowded round her, snorting happily.

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