T H E  A M P  D I A R Y
House On Stilts

Saturday 25 March, 2000

If you go up Brick Lane, under the bridge, left past Shoreditch Tube, you're there, on the farm. Behind you:

flip-flop and bangle shops
chair-and-table shops
walls scribbled with Bangladeshi graffiti
dot-com trendies with posh trainers and square glasses

In front of you:

horses in a field
a monastery
cobbled carless streets
a house on stilts
giggling farm women in dirty jeans with straw in their hair

I can't stop laughing as I look around. I feel like I've just fallen asleep, or come up, or slipped down a hole, into another world. The house on stilts hovers in the air. A big black horse pushes his nose over the fence but a sign just under his mouth says, in capitals, 'THIS ANIMAL WILL BITE YOU!' A donkey stands on the cobbles, pulling his head away as a woman wrestles him into a bridle. They start running, then disappear round a corner. A hatless, blonde-haired girl rides a huge white shire horse towards us. The woman and donkey heave into view briefly behind the field, then run on, followed by goats.

The animals belong to Spitalfields City Farm. Spitalfields City Farm is the best farm ever. Not for its sheep with big white Rasta dreads falling into their eyes; nor for the hundreds of baby rabbits with black eyes and fluffy black and white bodies. It's the pigs. There are 2 pigs, the size of month-old Alsation puppies, with firm fat bodies that wrinkle into folds when they move, like buses that bend in the middle when they turn corners.One is pink with black spots and the other, chunkier, is rich chocolately brown. They wag their tails when you speak to them as though they understand.

Their piggy noses are amazing, like a whole other creature parked on the end of their face. It moves, it wriggles from side to side, it undulates, it quivers. It's not rough and rubbery-looking like a dog's nose but moist, like the inside of the human mouth. They bash it up against the wire of the cage and sqeeze it through the gaps, sniffing my legs like they want to suck me into their bodies through their nostrils. I want to stroke the piggies like dogs, but I'm scared. After a while the farm lady comes up and showers them with frozen peas. They snuffle for them hungrily, the brown pig not noticing one which lands on his back and rides him round the pen like a little green emperor.

I name them Wiggy and Hopkins. Wiggy for the spotty one and Hopkins for the brown one with the serious, wrinkled face. There's a naming competition because at present they're called Squashy and Fatface, and the farm want new names for them. If you win you get a year's free sponsorship of the pigs. On the little box for competition entries there is a note that says 'please give any further pig name ideas to a member of staff.' But Jake says the competition is for children, not grownups, so I stick my entry in the box. I didn't see anything in the rules about it being for children though. I'm sure I'll win.

Tuesday, 28 March 2000

Ever since I met the pigs, they've been all I've thought about. I want them to love me, AMP, not because I'm a humanshape who might give them food, but because, I don't know, my leopardskin coat looks like the spotty one's body and my face is sort of heart-shaped, like theirs, and because I talk to them right so their tails wag like little windscreen wipers. I know what this sounds like broody lady time. Time for my boyfriend to sound the Briget Jones Biological Clock Alert. But it's not. I think they might be crush substitutes. I haven't fallen in unrequited , hopeless, extra-marital love for so long. My heart must be missing it. I can just picture it, Jake forgotton, just me and the piggies, living happily ever after in the house on stilts.

Thursday, March 30, 2000

I'm visiting the piggies again. They've been snuggling and digging around in the straw, and their faces and backs are covered in it. They look adorable. They come over to me, but their tails aren't as waggly as before, even when I say 'hellooooo piggies!' in the same silly voice as I did the other day. I think they are hungry. A farm worker comes out of a barn and they start snorting and screeching, their noses twitching manically. It 's noisy and frantic. The piggies seem distracted, and a cow is staring at me through the window in the back of the pig-shed. The farmworker comes over and slops some food down, and the piggies turn their backs on me. I realise they don't love me at all. They just thought I might give them some frozen peas! I'm very disappointed and decide I'm sticking with Jake. At least he likes me for sex and food. The piggies just like me for food.


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