Returning To England: Caravan Park Existence
My return to England was both sudden and unexpected.
Rita and I were living a blissful if rather frugal existence.
Whilst I cycled around San Francisco picking up odd jobs where I could find them, she was at home painting and drawing on commission for a group of artists that she’d fallen in with. In between jobs, when I could find the time, I would return back to our studio apartment and eat lunch with her, looking out over the golden suburban hills of the city whilst we discussed our futures.
Unfortunately our planning was about to be put to a halt, as word had got out about mop-haired Englishman picking up tax-free income all across town. One day he could be seen clearing tables at a filthy club, the next day he’d be juggling for the amusement of families in Golden Gate Park and on the weekend he was spinning signs with a bleary eye and sketching iffy caricatures for confused tourists. He thought no one had cared about his little side-gigs, unfortunately someone had taken notice – the IRS.
A stern letter informed me one day that I had 7 days to set my affairs in order and then leave the USA. Although I wasn’t barred from re-entering the country, it was suggested that I would be wise not to return for at least 10 years. My Summer of Love had come to an abrupt end. I could do nothing but book my flight home, bid farewell to my various employers and, worst of all, Rita who had did not have the money or the inclination to follow me back to the UK. Her travelling days were behind her and I knew that her heart belonged in San Francisco and not with me.
When I touched down in London, all but penniless and heartbroken, the clouds were fit to burst and I felt that the time had come for me to return to my art. A distant uncle, hearing of my plight, got in touch with me and promised me free board at his holiday home in the North of England. I imagined a dismal smoke-filled sky, grubby faced children and a hard done by working class then accepted his offer.
Before I left for America I knew that my uncle had been looking to buy a residential park home in Lancashire. A holiday home had long been his dream, a place where he could vacation in during the summers and eventually retire to when he was old enough. He’d found his ‘slice of heaven’, as he liked to call it, in Mowbreck Park. This residential caravan park was set in a quiet corner of Lancashire and was certainly a far cry from my last home. Instead of the rumble of the streetcars I was woken by the distant cry of gulls. Despite this huge change in environment, I would still find myself reaching over for Rita each morning only to be brought back to earth with the realisation that she was half a world away…