Sunday, 16 March 2008

First, cajole your camper van...

It seems we misjudged our camper van in a way that has led to consequences costing around three hundred pounds in repairs.

The van is obviously not a him, it is a her. And taking the mickey by naming her Flash or Slick because of any supposed uncoolness was clearly the height of bad manners. I don't think the situation was helped by our friends commenting that the number plate basically reads, "PISSED". Pissed in the American sense is exactly what she became and she made her feelings known in no uncertain terms by squirting out her power steering fluid all over the road.

So I have consulted my friend Titania Hardie, a celebrated white witch, on the subject of recalcitrant camper vans and how we can get over the unfortunate beginning to our relationship.

You may be dubious about the powers of a white witch, but I can definitely vouch for Titania's abilities, as can all those associated with Frome FC. You see, I met Titania when, as a reporter for BBC Radio Bristol, I contacted her about a story we'd heard concerning Frome's home ground, Badger Hill. The team had the best away record in their league and the worst at home. Because of that, fans had started talking about the "Badger Hill Hoodoo". Who better to have a crack at beating the hoodoo than a white witch, I reasoned? And Titania was immediately up for the challenge.

She was amazing. I went with her to watch a home match and she even did the team talk before the first half - during which they played pretty well. In the second half they fell apart and chalked up yet another home loss. But Titania was determined to get to the bottom of the problem and after applying herself to the problem, she came up with the answer. The hoodoo wasn't on the pitch, it was on the home team's changing room.

A visit to the changing room confirmed her opinion. It was painted red (terrible colour for motivating a team) and had the most extraordinary depressing atmosphere.

Despite the lively scepticism of Frome FC's Chairman (who told Titania he would eat his hat if she managed to turn things round) she enlisted her husband, got a local DIY store to donate paint and before you could say "Badger Hill", had redecorated the changing room in hues of aqua and pink (yes, pink), hung up some crystals, said some incantations and left some of her own aromatic shower gel to get the team looking, feeling and smelling right.

And boy, it worked. That season, Frome FC won every home game after and finished right up the top of their league. The club was so grateful, the chairman (the sceptical chairman) invited her to their end of season meal and presented her with a huge bouquet of flowers to say thank you.

So I have great respect for Titania's views on such matters. Thus, I am taking her very seriously when she tells us our van is a she and that we need to go and toast her arrival then ask her nicely to transfer her mind to ours away from her former owner. Plus - and this is very important - we should hang up a spring of rosemary inside.

Once she's back from the garage (where she's currently awaiting parts) we shall follow Titania's advice to the letter. And we're rechristening the van - not "Flash" or "Slick" but, I think, Sheena.

Here's to you, Sheena. Long and happily may we ride with you.

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