I’m reading Emma Kennedy’s The Tent, the Bucket and Me. As the subtitle explains this is about her ‘Family’s Disastrous Attempts to go Camping in the 70s‘, and that is not an understatement. I wish that I had the same powers of recall as Emma does to remember what I thought, felt and said at the age of 3. Emma is of course, writing comedy. It reminds me of those TV programmes that make you think ‘this just wouldn’t happen in real life’. I’m not saying that what she writes about didn’t happen, but I do suspect it’s been embellished somewhat.
Emma Kennedy would be great on Rob Brydon’s programme Would I Lie to You? All the events she describes would be ideal for the programme because no-one would believe they were true from the way she describes them. Passages in this book both make me laugh out loud and groan at the stupidity that led up to them. Just imagine you’re three, you’re drenched in wee (from a bucket full of the stuff that had tipped over when you tried to sit on it) and your parents told you to run naked round the car in a howling gale to wash off the wee! And that was Emma’s introduction to the joys of life under canvas.
There are more than enough toilet incidents, but these are not the only disasters that befall Emma and her teacher parents Tony and Brenda. Having put up a frame tent in a howling gale in a field on the side of a cliff they abandon the tent and break into an empty caravan on the campsite, only to find that it went from bad to worse. The caravan was ‘ a stinking hole’, the back window blew out and, fighting against the wind the front end of the caravan came off its bricks. They managed to jump out just as:
The caravan groaned; a deep crunch shattered out from its underbelly. With one terrifying yaw, the rear cracked up to the verical, tipped over and then rolled end over end, crashing down the field, metallic smashes punching through the howling wind. Then with one sliding finale, the caravan fell off the edge of the cliff.
‘We’re in hell!’ wailed Mam, as she watched it go. ‘Hell!’ (page 37)
They’d been in the eye of a force-ten gale, without realising it. Nothing daunted they carry on camping (holidays, that is) for the next 9 years.