Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Summer's Here and the Time is Right....

....for bunting in the streets.

Maybe not.

Today was my first venturing out into the outside world since coming back from our camping misdemeanors. I wasn't ready. And Mr Roving Blade was worried that we might come into contact with violent faceless hoodies causing a ruckus.

We were heading over to a church hall in Tunbridge Wells. The Teen Group thing. I wasn't worried about louts. We herd our louts - hooded, lilac be-wigged or pink-tinged-bedly-do'd - into the bean-bag room upstairs while we slurp tea beneath the reassuring life-size crucifix downstairs, dodgeing missiles from the mini-yobs, the most likely to be in hoodies in fact.

I was way more worried about opening my mouth and family-only gobbledegook splurting out. It's been a long time since I'd mixed with 'others'.

But I was not the only one to come back from Hesfes and take two weeks to recover. Another of my kind was looking wobbly. She had nearly turned back the car halfway there.

It's just too soon.

I'm still wondering whether to post up my experiences of life on an East Anglian airfield, flat, featureless and unsheltered, surrounded by a faded-fortuned industrial estate. Following the scrawled signs from civilized roads to the designated wasteland, we were still hopeful. Down to 15 mph through ever-more depressing out-of-business units and we were beginning to fret. 5 mph. Up a gravelly (not like stately home gravelly, shit gravelly) lane that was to surely lead to two-toed slack-jawed Deliverance-land we were on the verge of splitting the tyres in a sharp u-turn when we spotted cheerful bunting. We perked up. Bunting! It's all alright. And lots of people with pink hair. Our people. We entered.

Three weeks later, I'm still not sure we made the right decision. I kept getting asked how we were enjoying it. Mr RB had a great reply: 'I'm still processing.' I really still am.

I need another lie down now. I've been 'up' long enough. Since dinner. I got up for dinner after a lie down when I got home. It's been a big day - a church hall and sitting in a park wondering where all my children were and not being able to tell cos the park is full of OTHER kids. Bloody summer holidays! And bed-time for boys beckons. You wanna talk about rioters? I'll need another lie down after that.

If I re-emerge tonight I'll prob just switch on the telly and see what satellite town without its police force is burning bright. See who's raided the local Poundsaver as I heard today. I'm not sure these are disaffected youth.... Poundsaver!? That's middleaged put-upons surely looking to slip a six-pack of Imperial Leather into their Asda maxis. Every little helps. Or wha'eva. But, we pondered in the park today, surely now the whole of the country will follow Bluewater's lead and ban the wearing of hooded tops in public. Fire Dad argued that this problem had been fought for years, by the likes of The Sheriff of Nottingham - and Robin Hoodie! But it does lead to... what of urban cyclists masking their faces with scarves? 'What about cowboy hats?' interjected Fish Dad? Mmnn... this could escalate to sporting sinister-sized sombreros. Not too much of this in Tunbridge Wells as yet. But what indeed of the burka? The French banned it but the police are not allowed to touch the face coverings - the women turn up at court for wearing it and are turned away when they refuse to remove it for the hearing. Wot a laugh! We could have such fun with this. I'm surprised there isn't a mass movement of burka-wearing just for the sheer spectacle. Can't be too hard to source I reckoned. 'Go to Burka King!' exploded Fire Dad. But on a serious note kids.... he did make a very good point about youngsters stuck in towns with no wilderness. No contact with the 'real'. Not even stars. No sky at night to strike awe. I think he has a very sound point.

Drawing me back to the windswept flatness of the Suffolk airfield.... On the first night I had to concede that despite the lack of pretty landscape, there was indeed a 'big sky'. The evening campfire stargazing was the highlight of each shivering day. 'Shooting star!' 'That's an aeroploane.' 'Shooting star!' 'Nah that's one of those paper lanterns powered by a tea-light. Heading straight for that field of dry corn.' 'Shooting -' 'Satellite.' ..... And as we all know it's wrong to wish on space hardware..... But it's one of those things you do when you're on holiday like watching the sunset, going for an evening walk, capturing someone else's wayward lantern and torturing it over the campfire and letting it go and retrieving it several times until it finally finds the will to escape... that you never do when you're back home. The other evening I was feeling particularly tired and tearful and Mr Roving Blade dragged me by the hand chirruping 'I've got something to show you! Come on! We said we were gonna do this...' And outside he pointed above and declared 'Look at that! See how insignificant you are!'

He was trying to help.

Do you think it would help the socially oppressed looting hooligans of the inner cities?

They're already quite good at getting a fire started. It's just another technique. We foraged for wood and kindling for our evening's flare. They have their own methods. We had the continuous sound of distant (and not so distant) bongoes, they have the pummelling of batons on a riot shield....

Perhaps it is an inevitable explosion born of frustration. The chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots. Although I'm not sure checking your Blackberry for the latest rioting hotspot are the last-ditch desperate actions of a Have Not. Blackberries don't grow on trees you know. Maybe if they looked up instead of down at their little beeping boxes? 'Shooting star!' 'Run you moron that's my molotov cocktail.' But it's social interaction of a sort.

Is it the sort that people worry Home Educated kids don't get?

Can't wait for the first Home Edder to be arrested - all of a sudden that would be the answer to the whole riddle. We would be the scapegoat to be hounded out of existence for sure. Call me cynical but hey.... just try and take a child to A & E and tell them you Home Educate! The horror and suspicion on the uniformed faces.... You're lucky to be allowed to bring them home again. Stepping outside society's 'norm' - we lay ourselves open to be viewed as the cause of all society's ills. Luckily not everyone reads The Daily Mail. Have we retreated or struck out on a new path? Escape or adventure? Deserters or pioneers?

Escape...? Retreat...? Aren't they supposed to be 'holiday' words? Why are 'holidays' so damned exhausting? And what is it that I seem to keep ending up in East Anglia by strange twists of fate. I do not know why. When I got home after a week of unremitting wind and flatness, I staggered upstairs and gorged on the view from my bedroom window. Trees, undulating curves, colours.... Dennis Potter's phrase 'blue remembered hills' always floats into my mind. And we have a perfectly wonderful sky here too. It was blue the day I left, and blue when I came back. I think East Anglia only does grey. I live in a little secret pocket of wonder. If I can't hack Rougham Industrial Estate could I ever turn back to the smoking decay of old London town? Can I possibly place my mind into a hood and understand what the mad 'uns are thinking?

When I lived in Sarf Lahndan all those years ago I sometimes thought I heard the sound of the uprising. I'd be convinced my street would be suddenly aflame with torches throwing the shadows of the imagined pitchforks (or car bumpers..) appear as giant city-eating monsters. Was probably just a few Henrys falling into dogshit on the common. It was Clapham after all. I really don't want to be there now either way.

It's making Hesfes seem like a pleasant alternative.

Amazing how a new turn of events can put things into perspective. I'm now not so much shuddering at the memories of sub-zero tent survivalism as fondly recalling bashing bits of copper water tank with a hammer long enough so it curls into a submissive shining bowl, watching (through my fingers) Minx and Lu-Lu Cheeeese on stage in the cabaret re-enacting meerkat ads and murdering Justin Bieber in all my best wigs, constructing a rocket-stove from catering tins I'd made other people raid for me from the rubbish skips and managing to get it alight - for a whole minute, feigning interest in children's creative activities but in the face of circus skills fleeing like a rioter into the rag-weaving marquee and not only getting to sit down and make a ...rag-woven... thing.. but manage to find myself next to the Mighty Grit and meeting the gorgeous triplets! Oh there was more! Actually there wasn't. That was it for the good stuff. But in the face of having my habitat burn down around me by the concrete jungle's guerillas, a fieldful of lurky teens in ripped tights and day-glo wands with their earnest elders clad in dog blankets is almost inoffensive.


Until I remember the toilets....

How I'd long for night to fall so I could just dodge in between mine and Mr RB's cars and find sweet wild relief.

On the flip-side, I did smell of my own wee for a week. I think it was my own.

That Mr Bragg kept getting in my head out there....

I was a weaver
I was a stove-builder
I was black weesmith betweeeeeen the cars
Beat our the copper bowl
Foraged for wood and coal
Back for another wee between the-e cars....

I clung to the outskirts of human acceptance until about Tuesday. From then on I quickly degenerated into a squatting grotesque caricature of womankind, grasping amongst sticks and roots, no longer inclined to wash, staring fearfully at the fire, pointing and grunting at raw cup-a-soup and last seen beating my chest and disappearing into the outer scrubs of the grinding industrial badlands, heading south, with a bit of gaffa tape stuck my hairy clawed foot.

Thankfully, something like The Incredible Journey, I made it back to the fruit-filled arms of home. But it has taken two weeks to dare to step back into the world of humanoids again. And what has civilization to offer me?

It's not just Babylon a-burning baby. It's not just Tottenham, Birmingham and Manchester. It's the likes of Maidstone, Chatham, Croydon.... Tunbridge Wells next on the list surely!

Come on Rougham! Raise your hoods. Just one more tea-light lantern!! You can do it!!!

But I expect you've got more pressing things to do. Like watching the skies. Much better idea.

'Shooting star!!!'

I'll get me blanket....


  1. Have a day out booked for the kids in London on Saturday, all paid-up, a super-organised-in-advance trip. Bloody typical. Well, if I come across any thugs I'll just have to defend myself with my pocket-sized A to Z. 'Take that, you beastly hoody! Let that be a lesson to you.'

    I have vague recollections of the Justine Bieber act...

  2. Will you be wearing Hesfes hoodies? That would be funny to see on the SkyNews footage later.

    Mine was the one who kept putting on the blonde bubble perm wig singing 'Everyday I'm shufflin'...' I didn't understand until I made her show me the LMFAO (I think they're called) video on YouTube. Yeah now I'm SO down with the kids....

    ...I'll get me hoodie...

  3. wow.....sounds like quite the journey........welcome back to our world, fingers crossed all quiet on the western front!!

  4. Awww - haven't you got a Blackberry then?

  5. I've taken some time to soak up all your words, really interesting to hear from someone who grew up in Sarf London, though it seems many of all areas were involved, really scary. I know what you mean about not wanting to engage with the world after a holiday though and this is even more reality.

  6. I don't seem to be engaging with anything right now!! Even my blog world!!! I suspect I have an awful lot of catching up to do....

  7. we have a date with destiny next year. all the little grits want to go and camp at hesfes. for the week. camp! for the week! i shall book a bed for the night somewhere and abandon them. i think that is the only option they've left me.

  8. It is the only sensible option out there!