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1 AN OLD LAND ROVER
46 CARAVAN RAGE OR AGINCOURT DEUXIEME PARTIE
STORY 46 CARAVAN RAGE
OR AGINCOURT DUEXIEME PARTIE
Our local caravan club is twinned with a French Club, and each year we organise a meet. For the past few years this meet has been held in France. This year it was held in good old Blighty.
And so the first day of the meet was upon us.
We arrived at the camp site just before another caravan turned up being towed by a French family.
We were informed by the stewards that he thought there was only one pitch left with electric hook up .* The steward was not sure where it was but it was somewhere on the far side of the site. So off I went on foot in search of it.
Now this is where the trouble began because he told the French camper the same tale and so off ‘he’ set in search of the elusive pitch.
I finally found it on the far side of the camp site and duly placed our Union Jack in the vacant pitch. ** I had just turned back to fetch our van when the Frenchman sneaked up and kicked our flag over and placed his in its place. Sacred Bluey I thought (I do speak a little French). I went back, an argument ensued ***, lots of Gerroffs, Froggies, Rossbiiffs, real Sacre Blue,s and other expletives were uttered as we argued and pushed, each trying to rip the others flag to pieces and plant his own. Very soon other campers came to see what all the commotion was about.
There were two distinct groups of onlookers, those waving the French Tricolor and those waving their Union and St Georges flags. I came to the conclusion that the only thing to settle this would be who got his caravan in the space first.
Up I jumped and ran back to my van followed by a cheering band of English campers. The Frenchman saw what I was doing and he too raced back along with his posse of French compatriots. We arrived back at our vans to find they had been blocked in by a dustbin lorry. It seemed the only way to move the vans would be to unhitch them, move them out of the way, move the cars and then re hitch the vans. This would take far too long, there was only one way we would have to push the van around the site without my motor, but with the aid of my new found gang this would be no problem. I tow my van with a Land Rover and always carry a tow rope, so this I tied to the front of the van. With some pulling and some pushing we raced away across the site. The Frenchman also hemmed in by the lorry unhitched his van but instead of using his gang to tow him around he used his electric mover (This is an electric motor that fits onto the caravan wheels and propels it short distances, normally used by those who cannot reverse a caravan with a motor car.)
We both took a circular route to the space, he went to the right and I to the left. Both having the same distance to cover, the race was on.
Soon other campers hearing the commotion ran to help, each rallying to his or her own flag. The strains of Rule Britannia and The Marseilles sounding loud in our ears. The wife stood on steps inside the van with her head and torso poking out of the sky light, red fire bucket on her head for protection. Much as a tank commander.
“To the gap my brothers” she shouted pointing forward.
“Never before in the annals of our history has a caravan been pushed by so few so far” Ah she was into the Winston Churchill speeches. Was that a cigar she was holding? And where did she get that bowler hat?
“We will fight them in the toilet blocks we will fight them at the water points, we will never surrender”
We were now going down a slope heading for the final straight. The caravan, speeding up was going faster than the men who were towing it, the ropes going slack they turned around to see one and a halt tons of white plastic bearing down on them, the scattered. Now the caravan with no one controlling it veered off course and sped into the next field. My wife, arms flailing could do nothing as the van ploughed into a ditch on the far side throwing her out of the skylight to land amongst a herd of bewildered sheep.
All was lost, On seeing this a great cheer went up from the French as they hurtled down the far side of the site.
But wait, what was happening to the French van? Smoke was pouring from the overheated electric motors. Soon that smoke turned to flame and as they were about to park in the space there was a mighty whoosh and their caravan was engulfed in a ball of flame. After five minutes all that was left was a twisted metal frame on two smoking wheels.
With the help of our little army we managed to drag our caravan out of the ditch and park it in the space so nearly lost to the Frenchies. The only damage was to the wifes pride as she was now rather muddy. But all was not lost, having ruined her bowler hat and cigar she now took on the persona **** of Paul Robeson and gave a fine rendition in her basso profundo voice of Old Man Riber. Now that shook a few caravan windows I can tell you.
The next day to say the spirit of Entente Cordial was at a low ebb would have been a slight understatement. Having not gone to bed until 02 of the clock putting back all that had been dislodged or smashed during my wife’s brief sojourn in the neighbouring field We did not arise until 10 of the AM being awoken by the sound of revving engines, women screaming “STOP” or “ARRETER”, and a few horrible squelching noises (Le Squelches) **** as they were crushed by reversing caravans. It seemed that when we were getting our zzzzzzz,s the French and British caravanners had decided to split up and form camps at each end of the field with a tract of no mans land running down the middle.
Barbecues were lit and an uneasy silence fell over the camp. Where there should have been the clang of boule upon boule, petanque upon petanque. Boot against ball or Wellington thrown hitting the ground***** there was only the nervous twittering of birds, the sizzling of sausages and muted whisperings.
I cannot apportion blame for what happened next.
It all started with a flying burnt sausage thrown by one side, who’s? No one knew. Very soon hundreds of cooked and uncooked sausages were flying over no mans land, followed by steaks snf thr occasional jar of Hellmans. It got really nasty when kebabs on sharpened sticks were thrown javelin like towards the enemy. The battle continued with each side sustaining severe losses on the barbecue ribs and worse still the chilli sauce. The only thing that saved more injury was the use of satellite dishes as shields. Very soon both sides had run out of food to use and so turned to TV ariel poles and wooden windbreak staves, the latter being placed in the barbecue coals to catch fire before being hurtled across the gap. At the height of the battle even Calor gas bottles were used as flame throwers
Very soon the fire brigade arrived accompanied by the police in full riot gear driving into the middle of the field. This was not the best of times to be in that position because the campers running short on ammunition had decided to throw waste containers and porta loos across the gap, Most of these fell on the police cars and a fire engine named Dennis who was not amused.
We are not going to twin with the French next year but have decided to invite a German group over.
That should be fun lets hope its not Weltrieg drei
* Electric hook up. An electric point where you can run a power lead to your caravan. Without this hook up the caravan will run on a 12 volt system powered by batteries in the caravan. Whole pages could be written on a caravanners obsessions with his 12 volt supply and the worry of making it last for the duration of his stay, normally aided by solar panels, wind turbines, petrol generators and even Gerbils in spinning wheels.
** Flags and caravanners. On most club caravan meets you will see a plethora of flags flying from poles and vans denoting the origins of said caravanner. They say an Englishman’s home is his castle. The van is just an extension of this and as most vans look the same this is his stamp of individuality. This flag thing may also stem from armies on the march that always had their flag flying above their tents. A very apt reason in this case.
**** One of my dearests many problems (Not for her but for those who live with her) Are the many different personalities she takes on. Her favourite being Long John Silver as played by a sweaty Robert Newton In the 1950 film Treasure Island (Its something to do with the wooden leg you know, Oh and also the fact she can tell ‘her’ joke, see story 21..)
Extract from story # 21 on my web site ‘Selling a Wheel Clamp on Ebay’.
My wife does not have a sense of humour, but one joke, THE JOKE is the only one that makes her chuckle .......... slightly.............well a sort of grunt...............ok just a slight rise of the upper lip............ok ok just a twitch of her moustache.
Two years ago I told her this joke, its from the Goon Show and is very simple..................
Captain "Stand by to repel boarders"
Sailor "How do you repel boarders"
Captain "Stop changing the bed linen"
Amusing you might say when heard once but my wife repeats it over and over again like some mantra. And also insists on telling it at all the functions we attend. When it does not illicit the required guffaw my wife nudges them in the ribs saying "get it, bed linen, stop changing, priceless". With my wife not knowing her own strength this nudge normally cracks a few ribs. Word soon got around so to avoid injury everybody laughs when she tells it, some even go into hysterics, this makes the wife think that the joke is wonderful and must be recited at every opportunity.
FD Oh what tangled webs we weave, in our efforts to deceive........ If they had accepted their punishment like men this would have been over many years ago.
***** A word here about coupling up a caravan and tow car. Its all to do with Women, machines and giving directions. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a camera mounted on the back of your vehicle you are reliant upon your partner (Normally the wife) to guide you back. This should take just the movement of an arm directing you either left or right. Holding their hands up apart showing the distance you have to travel back. Then a flat of the hand to signify stop. Oh no. That may happen in Ice Road Truckers or Narnia. This is the real world. Replace ‘Just the movement of an arm’ with ‘doing an impression of a windmill in a force ten gale’. The holding hands apart to show distance with saying ‘back a bit back a bit’ accompanied by limp wrist movements normally carried out in a position where you cannot see them. Finally (and this is where ‘Le squelch’ comes in) the palm up to signify stop is replaced with a scream STOOOOOP as in panic they throw themselves at the back of the car trying to stop it with theirbodies and bare hands. Or if the are German caravanners their bear Hans. This puts themselves between the car and van. Now if she lives or dies is dependant on whether the driver is in a good mood, they have had a row or not,or. she is well insured.
Normaly after all this the caravan is 6 inches one side of the tow ball.
“WE can move it over” she says. This is normally not an option as the wheels are deep in mud or chocked up on levelling ramps.
You pull forward and try again to find you are 6 inches the other way.
“I am trying you know” She says
“Yes you are my dear, very trying”
“I can only do one thing at a time” she says. This is coming from a woman who can cook breakfast for 6 kids whilst doing the ironing and hoovering plus while all this is going on, planning the evening meal.
Then the dreaded words
“Let me drive and you give directions if you think you are so good”
This is where the clutch manufacturer wrings his hands in glee.
And so it goes on and finally you are hooked up.
But all is not over. Once the caravan is hitched there are the electrics to check.
You put your right indicator on
“OK” she shouts. OK to what? I put the brakes on
“OK” she shouts. Once again OK to what? How does she know what button or pedal I have pressed? I do despair at times.
***** Welly Whanging.-- The wifes good at this and very often the butcher is still wearing them. This happens when he keeps his thumb on the scales when weighing out the Scrag Ends or other cheap cuts.
My dearest normally orders 50p worth. This is where the game starts.
“Will 70p be ok luv” Says Mr Yakamoto the butcher.
“NO” Says the wife. A bit is sliced off.
“How about 62p me duck” says Mr Y.
“NO” says the wife.
Mr Y is now getting angry and impatient. In his haste he cuts too large a slice off. He knows that if it is too light my little toxic pickle will say no, and so he puts his thumb on the scales to bring it up to 50p. This is when he does his impression of a low flying scud missile as my wife grabs him by his white coat and throws him through the doorway. Then walks out of the shop and nips into the Co Op instead. You would think he would learn but I think in his youth he had dreams of becoming a Kamikaze pilot and this was just its fulfilment.