Dear Caravaners

They cause the most horrendous traffic jams. Their owners have the most appalling taste. And now we find out they're death traps, too

Or should I say dangerous road hogs from hell? Of course I should. And now I can get the West Country police to accompany me on backing vocals. They've just spent two terrifying, but to me utterly predictable, weekends spot-checking your big, clunky, ugly vehicles (suburbia on wheels, but pathetically given to get-up-and-gung-ho names like the Marauder, Cyclone, Sprinter and the - ha, ha, ha - Jet Stream) as they did their usual sadistically slow summer thing of allowing traffic to build up behind them.

Surprise, surprise, they found a 90 per cent failure rate on even the most basic safety standards - faulty tyres, bad brakes, worse suspension and, oh, my favourite, that hardy perennial, incorrect loading, in some cases by as much as five times the manufacturers' recommendation. So now we know why most caravans sway all over the place like Marilyn Monroe's butt: too much behind. As a shocked police spokesman said: "People think they can just hook up a caravan and drive away."

If only. Most caravans don't drive. Of the 600,000 in this country, only a quarter ever budge; most simply sit, freshly waxed with nowhere to go in someone's driveway, a bad taste home-away-from-home ("the caravan is fully furnished with flame-resistant velour settees that pull out to form bed-bases for four at night ... there are co-ordinated pelmets and lined velvet curtains, roller blinds over the door and kitchen windows to ensure privacy - plus fitted carpets!") that isn't away from home at all.

And if they should by some mistake actually move (Dad's on Prozac or Mummy's decided her next nervous breakdown is going to have some nice scenery) it defeats the object that isn't there in the first place, because what's the point of bringing your home on holiday? Home is what we have vacations to get away from, and if you must have all the cheesy comforts and twee touches, God has gone to the bother of inventing the B&B, so you might consider using it.

Sane types don't tote the damn thing with them, and certainly not to a muddy field in the middle of nowhere to rest among other caravans; go mild in the country (and remember to flush the chemical toilet). This might make some sense in America, land of open spaces, mighty vistas and freeway shootings, but playing King of the Road all the way to Texas isn't the same as a week (not) roughing it in Dungeness, is it?

But then I'm talking about fun, adventure, spontaneity, and you are caravan owners. True, I've only ever seen a few (well, me and the rest of the world are always in the jam, way, way behind you) but what a grim lot you are in your glace-white and two-tone green lower bodies with pine- green coachlines and matching towbars, her with her tight perm, him with his tight ass and the 2.3 kids looking as if they'd just got the news that Michael Jackson was coming to visit. But I guess that's what you'd expect from the sad sort who decide they can take it with them, and never mind the danger - aesthetic and, now we know, physical - that they represent to the rest of us.

JOHN LYTTLE

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
science
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before