Around this time the porridge orders started getting too big for the car. I made a business-like assessment of the value of various transportation options and put it on the agenda for the next meeting. Abi took a different approach and bought a 1973 VW van on Ebay without even seeing it.
AE: ‘YOU WILL LOVE IT’ [Translation: It’s a rust bucket but I have already bought it so please don’t be negative]
FE: ‘I will love it' [Translation: I will be nice about this as long as you never mention the pig abattoir machine or the Tardis fridge.]
That night Abi ate too much cheese before bedtime, dreamt that her home was being invaded by the undead, fell out of bed and broke her arm. I picked her up from A&E bright and early and we headed to Brighton to pick up the van. The man who was selling it was extremely pleased to see us and very friendly, especially considering that he was so ‘sad to be letting the van go’. He handed over the keys and went straight back in the house and shut the door. It was parked on a steep incline and as we pulled out into the road and I attempted to change gear we began to roll backwards down the hill. I managed to regain control and with my foot flat on the accelerator we trundled up the hill.
AE: ‘He said that it runs great once the engine opens up’
FE: ‘What does that mean?’
AE: ‘I’m not sure’
That journey was a mixture of excitement at having our own campervan and mortal fear that we wouldn’t make it back alive.
AE: ‘We should give the van a name’
FE: ‘What like?’
FE: ‘Jorge? Shouldn’t it be something more epic?’
AE: ‘Like what?’
FE: ‘Espiritu Silvestre Oceanico del Sur?’
Our summer as beach bums with a campervan full of boards (and porridge) was short-lived and bittersweet. How cool we felt as we arrived at the beach, how terrified when the breaks failed at the roundabout and we just kept going. In our heart of hearts we both knew that Espiritu was a death trap and had to go. We found a buyer and went to meet him at a Little Chef on the A3. How pleased we were to see him, how friendly we were considering it was ‘so sad to be letting the van go’. The man climbed in, released the handbrake and started to roll backwards towards a hedge. I waved a cheery goodbye and Abi waggled her cast. As we drove away Abi left behind her fantasty of re-living ‘The Endless Summer’ in her beloved van that she never even got to drive (6 weeks after breaking her arm she also broke her foot and spent a while on crutches). The last sound we heard was the distant clatter of the exhaust falling off into the gutter.