My life inside a tin can

By Stephen Cunningham,2014-01-06 00:09
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My life inside a tin can

    My life inside a tin can

    (1) IT seems to me that sometimes a person arrives somewhere, a place, a moment, a feeling, without the slightest idea how they got there, or indeed how to get out. So it was with me and the caravan.

    (2) Claiming benefit, post A-levels, but before the Great Escape that eventually sent me hurtling towards London, I pitched up at a B&B in

    1Rutland. On the phone, the landlady said she had no rooms, but she did have a caravan parked in the yard.

    (3) This is how I ended up standing crouched inside the tiny caravan, weakly admiring the one-cup-of-tea kettle and gas hob, the sliver of wardrobe, the small cube of black-and-white TV, pungent chemical loo, and little hankies of striped curtains.

    (4) "Isn''t this nice?" said the landlady cajolingly. "Hardly used, and so private." Looking back, I don''t know what it was the fumes from the

    loo, the inexperience of youth leading to an inability to say no, or simply desperation (I needed somewhere fast), but I found myself saying the immortal words: "I''ll take it."

    (5) It would be nice to say now that I loved my time in the caravan, that I

    2learned a lot, and it was a hoot. In truth, the caravan was horrible, I

    learned nothing except that living in a caravan is horrible.

    (6) At night, when, sleepless and wary, I''d listen to the creaks and sounds of the outside world: the drinkers swaying home, the dog walkers chivvying and impatient and worse, because the caravan was so near to

    a busy pavement, the creepy random footsteps slowing down, sometimes stopping, just outside my plastic panes.

    (7) As for being "private", my caravan was separated from the pavement by a low hedge which proved to be less of a barrier, more of an invitation to pry. Quite a few mornings I would wake up to find some strange face (child, office worker, postman) peering interestedly though the large gaps in the curtains.

    (8) It wasn''t all bad. Most days I''d go for long walks. Back in the caravan, curtains drawn, I''d write letters to friends I''d met hitchhiking

    3around the country to see gigs, I''d read books, listen to my Walkman,

    and piece together a music fanzine with a friend.

    (9) And so it went on, for six months. In the end I was lucky. One of my friends could stand seeing me live like this no longer and talked her

    mother into letting me stay with them. The landlady was upset to see me go, which was understandable who else would she find stupid enough

    to live in a tiny caravan next to a busy public pavement?

    (10) As for me, I moved on, into different homes, different lives, and forgot all about the caravan. Well, maybe not completely. Sometimes it

    4would come back to me in all its wretched tin glory. Such as when I was

    watching Eminem in 8 Mile, in his trailer home, the benchmark of poverty in the US, and I thought: "That''s Versailles compared to the one I lived in!"

    (11) This is not to suggest that my time in my caravan home was completely wasted. It taught me empathy, the realization that even when you''re at your youngest and strongest it is still possible to get stuck on the flypaper of life. And, more than that, perhaps appropriately for a mobile home, it taught me not to be afraid, to always keep moving, whatever the cost.

Making Sense

    Claiming benefit, post A-levels, but before the Great Escape that eventually sent me hurtling towards London, I pitched up at a B&B in

Rutland. (paragraph 2)

    After finishing university and applying for unemployment benefits, I found myself living in a bed and breakfast in Rutland. (This was before I finally moved to London to start my career.)

…and it was a hoot. (paragraph 5)

    …and it was a lot of fun.

    I''d write letters to friends I''d met hitchhiking around the country to see gigs. (paragraph 8)

    I made friends when I begged rides off strangers to see concerts all over the country. When I had time in the caravan, I''d write letters to them.

    Sometimes it would come back to me in all its wretched tin glory. (paragraph 10)

    At times, I think back to my uncomfortable days of living in that little tin trailer.


    "Bed and breakfasts", also known as B&Bs, originated in the UK but are now found in countries like the US and Canada. They''re establishments that offer simple accommodation and breakfast in return for payment, but they usually don''t offer other meals. Typically, bed and breakfasts are private homes with only one or two bedrooms available for commercial use.

    In recent years, some bed and breakfast businesses in the UK have struggled thanks to budget hotel chains. Traditionally, business travelers used B&Bs, but many of these clients now stay in budget hotel chains. However, in holiday areas, B&Bs and guest houses still prevail. Unlike the chain accommodation providers, these provide a more comprehensive service, and breakfast is included in the price.


    cajolingly 甜言蜜语地

    caravan 活动住房

    chivvy 烦扰

    creak 吱吱嘎嘎作响

    creepy 令人毛骨悚然的

    crouch 蜷伏

    fanzine 科幻杂志

    flypaper 捕蝇纸

    fume 难闻的气体 gig 音乐家短期表演 hanky 手帕

    hitchhike 搭便车 hob 铁架

    hoot 滑稽古怪的东西 hurtle 猛冲

    immortal 不朽的;神圣的

    loo 厕所

    pane 窗格

    pungent 刺激性的 pry 窥探

    random 随意的

    sliver 长条;薄片 trailer 拖车

    Versailles 凡尔赛宫 wary 机警的

    wretched 可怜的;悲惨的

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