Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....
One of the side benefits of being a van kind of guy is that you occasionally meet other van guys. You can park up next to each other and talk shit, endlessly. One such guy was Lee whose van I spotted at one of the country parks I was visiting with Georgie and Hazel. My van is beautiful. I’d taken out the middle seats and you can stand up straight in it. I’d had the back windows dark tinted and even added a tow bar. But Lee’s van was something else altogether.
By his own hand, he’d converted the bog standard shell into a discrete home. He had a little kitchen in there, folding beds, music and tv, and even a litte bunk for his daughter Ellie. And in the back, under Ellie’s bunk, he had an entire window cleaning enterprise, complete with massive water tank, pumps, and extendable hoses with attachments, buckets, mops, and squeegees. So his life consisted of cleaning office and mansion windows during the week, and picking up Ellie from his ex on weekends.
Georgie could see me closing in on the guy and his van, but he turned out to be such a nice guy that she warmed to him as well. And Hazel and Ellie took off together into the play area and didn’t reappear for quite some time. We grown ups had coffee and chatted all afternoon.
Given my past experiences, I’m very careful with regard to whom I inform about my “estate”, but Lee won both of us over fairy quickly. By the end of the day we’d arranged to sync up on the next trip.
And what a good move that was for us! Lee became a regular and would throw himself into tasks and projects with a selfless gusto. It was Lee who first discovered the extent of the “carpeting”. While I was down by the dip with “the beast”, he turned up a corner of rotting rug, and when I next came back up the meadow I found he'd hauled up yards of the stuff. Not a big man, he nevertheless wrenched and heaved and slashed and, flushed and heavily sweating, created a 4 foot pile. But as we looked about, we all realised, with some horror, that this was just the tip of the iceberg. Carpet clearing was going to be a major project all by itself! We discussed forlornly for a bit, but then, without further ado, he and Georgie began filling the wheelbarrow.
Besides Kath and Lee and Nick and Maggie, other friends showed up from time to time to enjoy the rough lifestyle and savour the joys of hard labour. Martin B, another van guy, showed up complete with van. Lesley appeared with her upmarket camping technology. All threw themselves into aspects of the project without ever querying the apparent lack of underlying logic or clear purpose.
We also re-established contact with the thatched cottage via the recently relocated Gary and Abby. Apart from offers of gin and tonc and contributions to campfire life, they also offered occasional help with electric and water supply, an enormous perk for reclamation project activity.
© 2019 Deacon Martin