King Kong’s Valet

The people at the back of the bus stared at us with mild scrutiny. Some of their faces showed a less inhibited setting, somewhere between Appalled Fascination and Frankly Aghast.

What on earth were a couple in their early thirties doing on the 242 bus that runs between Hackney and the City carrying enormous ruck sacks and a tent on a trolley?

Wait. No! They’ve got a child with them as well. I bowed my head with shame at the situation into which I had placed my family.

We were going camping, despite not having a car, despite living in the inner city. We were going camping using only public transport. With my enormous rucksack, I looked like King Kong’s valet.

Math is King Kong's valet

Math is King Kong's valet

Cathy’s rucksack was also outsized, hung off her five-foot tall, blonde, petite frame. My mother describes my wife as a trooper, and this trip resembled a kind of troop training exercise for a young mother. Cath’s rucksack contained two weeks worth of clothes – hers and our daughter’s – packed into water-proof sacks, a sleeping bag, three sections of plastic origami that unfolded into seats, a bag of tea candles and flame-retardant paper lanterns, various soft toys and various thin and flat works of children’s literature, a tupperware box of ground spices, shoes and more shoes and wellies, toilet rolls, bin bags, warm jumpers, waterproofs and sunglasses. Ready for anything. The tent was lashed to a small trolley, mere hand luggage. Balanced on top of the baby buggy, a blue cool bag containing frozen litres of milk, baby bottles, fruit, snacks, sausages.

The bus juddered to a halt and as one over-laden four-legged beast we stumbled back and forth.

More >> “This Dunkirk of a holiday”

  1 comment for “King Kong’s Valet

  1. Tony Gayts
    September 13, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    You Guys,
    You really ‘craiq’ me up. Who needs “Me a Tent and a Bucket”. I hope that you realize that your children will either be Prime Ministers, Astronauts, or Nobel Prize winners with the perfect start you are giving them. Thank you for your anecdotes, hints, and … er … inspiration!

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