Teaser Tuesday – The Tent, the Bucket and Me

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.

6 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday – The Tent, the Bucket and Me

  1. Margaret – Thanks for sharing this. It sounds hilarious! I’ve been camping a few times and never had such disasters as that. Even if it has been embellished a bit, I’ll bet parts of it are quite funny.


  2. As is pointed out somewhere in the book, it is her parents that are recalling much of the dialogue. But of course it is “improved” for comedic effect


  3. Mog, it did make me think of that film, just a bit – no Barbara Windsor character though!
    Margot, we used to go camping a lot and we even had some similar things happen – not the toilet ones thank goodness! It is funny – not many books make me laugh out loud like this one does.
    Paul, in the Introduction Emma explains that she wrote this after a long process of interviewing her parents and it is their collective memories – her father remembered tiny details and her mother the conversations. It’s Emma’s recall of what she herself felt and thought from being three years old that I’d like to have – the incident where she recalled her longing to run round a massive boulder and realised as she crashed down a steep sloping hill towards it that she couldn’t make a neat turn around it and that she was heading for a drop, is just one example. I can’t remember much at all until I was about four and even then it’s only fragments.
    E J Stevens, yes it is a fun read.


  4. Reminds me of my first camping trip – in a pup tent that my feet stuck a mile out of – in a gusher of a rainstorm. We ended up soaking wet in the car searching for a diner for breakfast. Was it my imagination that everyone chuckled as we walked into the restaurant? 😀


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