The theory was sound: holidays
as ad hoc adventurism, trailer hooked
to the back of the car (tow ball
installed at the expense of a bruise)
and off into the rising sun or the wild
blue yonder, by way of campsites
with certain amenities. In practice
it was two summers of steady rain,
fields like the last day of Glastonbury.
Canvas sagged. Sludge bubbled
under groundsheets. We staved off cold
with a Calor-Gas stove, filled the tent
with the thin aroma of tinned goods.
Spaghetti hoops or alphabet soup
in plastic bowls. Sleep was dictated
by noises, draughts, unidentified lights.
Mornings we packed it all away, yawning
through a ritual of folding and stowing,
everything flat under the tonneau cover.
A busman’s holiday for my father
the truck driver, a scaled-down version
of roping and sheeting. Maybe
that’s what sealed its fate. The last place
we pitched it, eighteen months later,
was the back garden – a display item
for potential buyers. Decades before eBay,
it went just as quickly, a fold of bills
changing hands, the forecast improving.
Pic: Claire Palmer