When I was about eight or so our family moved from Esperance in Western Australia to the boondocks of NSW. We spent some time in a caravan park in Moree.
Now to all you other trailer park kids out there, I know your pain. I think in all we spent six or so months in caravans that year, while waiting for the house on the property my dad was going to manage to become available (the acting manager had refused to leave until his new house was finished – he was a prick).
Caravan park living as a kid is as bad – I can imagine it being a special hell for adults though. What with cramped living, no sense of space, and having to use shared amenities. Still I can remember it was a pain, and my parents were very stressed about it all.
One day us caravan park kids were wondering around, as you do, and we came across the Paddlepop Lion. Not the actual lion, but a plush version of the paddlepop lion. Lying in the dirt – likely belonging to another kid. So we grabbed it and went to see what we could do with it.
We found a large barrel of still liquid tar. Possibly at some roadworks nearby. So we dunked the lion in it so it became a tar baby, rolled it in gravel, then had a merry old time chucking it at each other. Well, a merry old time of them chucking it at me. It seems my fruity English esq educated tones didn't ender me to the caravan kids and so I naturally assumed the role of walking, then running target.
I must have been hit by the f_cker a dozen times. Eventually it grew dark and we made our way home. My dad, whose a lovely man, but easily stressed, took one look at my tarred form and started yelling. He then found a bottle of metho and scrubbed me raw in an attempt to remove the tar. I had been wearing school clothes I think so they were fairly ruined too.
It was a messed up year that one. 1980. The small town after Moree was heaps worse, the kids hated me there to, and one day they locked me in a dog kennel for several hours in the blazing heat. Like one of those punishment boxes in a movie set in a Southern US jail.
Man I was glad to leave there. Thank f_ck.
But I do have a special place in my heart for the Paddlepop Lion. Because whatever else was said and done, dunking a plush version of him in a big barrel of tar was kewl.