The young boy was on holiday with his parents. They were camping. A popular pastimes in the nineteen fifties. This year they were at Durdle Door, in an, apparently, endless field on top of the cliffs, just above the Door itself.
The weather was quite good, for a British summer, and the child was having a great time. He played on the beach, sometimes with other children, toured the shops with his parents, looked at places of interest and watched, with baited breath, the teenagers crawling along the narrow top of the Door.
Yes, as far as the boy was concerned, this was a really good holiday. That is it was good until the last day of their two week stay. The rain started falling early in the day and continued to fall all day and into the night. The wind began blowing a little before dusk and gained speed and ferocity as the sky darkened. The later it got the harder it blew.
The ex army tent shuddered and flapped with a noise like the crack of a whip. The child watched as his parents clung desperately to both wooden tent poles in an attempt to prevent breakage.
The boy tried to help, in these traumatic times, by pointing to a small leak in the roof and declaring, “there’s water coming in dad.” His father decided to check and abandoned his tent pole. As things turned out this proved to be a catastrophic error.
The wooden tent pole snapped like a gunshot and the tent collapse on all three of them. His father got them into the nineteen fifty Ford anglia then and went back for their bedding and whatever food he could find.
They settled into the car and barely ten minutes later two men with torches and large raincoats appeared and offered them hot cups of tea. When they had imbibed the most welcome beverage and devoured a biscuit or two, dad and the boy set off to return the cups. They walked through rows of devastated tents and wet people climbing into cars, vans and motorcycle sidecars not to mention those without vehicles hiding in their wrecked tents.
They found the large van with the men’s wives in the back with a small gas hob, a kettle and a huge teapot. The tired women were grateful for the return of the cups and waved goodbye to the man and boy when they returned to their car. As the three settled down, for what was left of the night, his father asked his mother if she was alright. She treated him to a hard stare and replied sharply, “yes I’m fine, but this is the last time I’m ever going camping.”