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