Thursday, 23 August 2012

A different kind of tension

          OK, enough of the heavy stuff for a moment. I’m back at work (again) after a fairly uneven summer which, nonetheless, seemed to have an air of change and replenishment tucked somewhere inside it. Work on the other hand still seems so…well, pointless. However, it pays the bills and that’s something to be said for it.

          So I’m feeling ambivalent about life at the moment and one thing that symbolically represents that ambivalence quite nicely is – caravans. You see, where I live caravan owners are (quite rightly) viewed with some distrust, some annoyance and sometimes even downright hatred. They clog up the narrow roads, they block views by parking in the nicest of places and then staying there for days, sometimes weeks, they often seem to have forgotten how to drive after a year of having the ‘van in their gardens waiting for that moment to descend en masse, they go to the most wonderful of places and then sit inside watching satellite tv…. Well, the list goes on. Simply put, caravans are second homes that reappear every summer, like a travelling Brigadoon without the decency to disappear after just a day.They can be a right pain.
          That said I should make a confession. Yes, my name is Bel Mondo and I used to own a caravan. There, said it. To be fair it cost £40 and was never on the road, simply parked in a field and used for the small Tins when they got tired of camping. I think I slept in it once. It lasted us two years and then we gave it away. Strangely, in between us giving it away for nothing and the new owners coming to collect it someone stole it…..I have no idea why since there were many better caravans (in fact every other ‘van there) to nick. But no, they took our crap one. Never saw it again. Although I was in London later that same year and down in Blackfriars’ tube station there was an art ‘installation’ on the unused platform which featured a caravan of the same make and vintage as ours….it even had the same curtains. I don’t know if it was ours, but if it was then I’m glad that’s where it ended up. Somehow having a caravan in the depths below London seemed quite a nice twist.

          And this is where the ambivalence comes in – I understand the need for that freedom, the ability to just drive off with all your stuff packed safely into the little mobile living space. To hit the road Jack and at least imagine that you’re never coming back no more. To take off and explore, to wander, to roam. What I hate is the way that they get bigger and bigger and give their owners the excuse never to leave them. After all what’s the point of going someplace if you retreat inside to watch Eastenders and cook pizzas in your four ringed halogen oven at the slightest hint of a cloudy sky ? Just stay at home yeah ?

          However there are always some exceptions and these sometimes turn up on ‘The Field’. Here are two of them, the first small chic and almost too perfectly beautiful – it was I thought the ideal ‘van to pull behind a late sixties sports car, maybe an MG Midget or an Alfa Spyder. This one had come over all the way from Germany (to digress, it’s very odd that so many Germans pitch up down in Cornwall – I’m told it has something to do with the popularity of Rosamunde Pilcher novels over there).

          The second is just a hippy dippy throwback which at least has the sense of scale and wears its sensibilities on its shell. I couldn’t object to this really since it looks like the sort of thing Dylan from the Magic Roundabout would retire to after a day of sitting in a field doing nothing much at all. I do like the fact that they seemed to have had fun painting the wheels green but kind of gave up on the flowers quite early on leaving it looking like the drop-out English cousin of the sharp continental above.

          But as for the big mutha’s – well, I feel a strange desire to follow them back home, put up a tent, light a campfire and play bongo’s all night in their garden…

          I never realised (due to a lack of interest I guess) that Canterbury proggers Caravan and Soft Machine both grew out of The Wilde Flowers – kind of sums it up really, never liked Caravan but Soft Machine are OK, and what is a tent but a soft machine…?

None of that noodling here though 

And boy do those dancers look like they got dressed for caravanning...

1 comment:

  1. There's someone in Uckfield who builds these lovely teardrop ones but they are about 6K or you can get plans on EBay to build your own ( something to occupy the long winter evenings?)
    I've always loved the little airstream ones, totally with you about the modern " house on wheels" variety!

    As for the dancers, can you imagine most of them being allowed to gyrate on TV now? They would never fit the size 0 costumes. Really refreshing to see such a more wholesome approach.