Wednesday, August 24, 2016


It's always a pleasure to hear a "good father" story. We hear so many of the bad ones, the wounds inflicted knowingly or unknowingly by fathers on their sons. Here's a particularly evocative and warm story by a young English actor/producer of my acquaintance, Philip Battley, whose impressive resumé you can read here. We did a trade with Philip and his wife, Jessica Elisa Boyd, a while ago--our Laguna Beach cottage for their London flat. I'm particularly attracted to his short memory because it's so close to many of my own. My parents, too, were caravaners. We set off to some new destination every August with the caravan in tow, putting down our "legs" at many stops along the way. (Unlike Philip, it seems, I actually came to dread these annual outings as a teenager. I'll be posting one of my own stories later in this blog...) Meantime, here's Philip:

by Philip Battley

I have very strong memories of our family holidays in our caravan, which we towed to the west coast of Wales every summer. The memories are just as physical as they are visual: the itchy agonies of the 7 hour drive; the first foot-feel of the firm wet sand; the smell of the heather...

Sunburnt from a day of cricket on the beach. Daddy uses a cotton pad and dabs on calomine lotion, a white, cool liquid on my back and shoulders. As it dries, it tightens on the skin and turns chalky.

I climb up onto the narrow canvas bunk, and crawl into my sleeping bag.

I need to stay inside the bag, because the canvas is rough and scratchy. The canvas sags between the poles at the sides, so if I lie on my back, my shoulders hunch up on either side.

Daddy says goodnight, and closes the curtain.

It is the after-bedtime sounds of the caravan from the other side of the divide that I love. The gentle hiss of the gas burner; the creak of the caravan as a heavy adult moves around; the rhythmic squeak of the toilet pump. And the quiet conversations between my parents.

Like my brother below, I soon disappear into my Hardy Boys book, living the adventures out in the ocean, until my eyes close. The deepest of sleeps pulls me in.

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