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Colin The Camper Van

Colin The Camper Van

A children's story about a VW camper that, after years of neglect, is found again by its old owner and turned into a computerised super-car.
And now a proper book! Published on March 25th by FBS Publishing, you can buy it at Amazon here, or to order a signed copy, buy direct from the publisher here.

Kindle version also available here

Here's an extract.


Colin was cold. He hadn't been driven for nearly two weeks, and now it had started to snow. His windows were frosted up, his door catches were frozen, the oil in his engine was getting hard with cold and his tyres were like ice blocks around his wheels. The water that had seeped into his cavities through the rust holes in his body had frozen solid and he was wrapped in a freezing blanket of ice. Colin was not a Happy Camper.

His owner had never taken him camping. He was a plumber who had never done anything nice with Colin, had never spoken a kind word, but shouted and swore at him and kicked him when he wouldn't start. When the plumber had bought him five years before, he had taken out most of Colin's insides, leaving just the cupboards to carry his plumbing tools. Colin carried sinks, baths, bidets and boilers all around the town. His owner was a terrible driver who sometimes got drunk and then Colin would drive into things, like lampposts and other cars. No-one liked him, he was dirty, battered and rusty. He smelt of oil and exhaust. His silencer had a hole in it, so he sounded as loud as a racing car, but because his owner never had him serviced, he was terribly slow, and got in the way of all the other traffic. Then they hooted at him and called him names and Colin got sad and thought about the old days.

He remembered being a brand new campervan, standing proud in the London showroom, his paintwork gleaming, his chrome bumpers and door handles shining like the richest silver. He was the prize in a national competition, the first of the Type Twos, and people came from far and wide to admire him, and hope that they would be the lucky winner. His huge side door stood open, showing the gawping public his magnificent insides. He was beautiful. He had a carpet, a table, curtains, a fridge, a cooker and a sink with running water. He had the latest stereo cassette/radio with four speakers. The back seat turned into a double bed and in the upraised roof were two bunks for children. A large four man tent was attached to his side. The showroom display was finished off with sun loungers and an outdoor table and chairs, with parasol. It was at that table that the documents were signed that turned him over to the competition winner; Andy, his first and up to now his only friend.

Andy was a student from Woollara in Sydney, doing a post-graduate course in Computer Science at the University of London. He didn't have much money, so he parked Colin in the University car park and lived in him, saving himself a fortune on rent. With the money he saved, he and his friends would take Colin on camping trips to Scotland and Wales. Once they even went across the sea to France and Colin had to put on yellow sunglasses and drive on the wrong side of the road. One day he forgot, and a French car had left a long scratch down his side; both he and Andy had taken greater care after that. He'd loved it in France and couldn't wait for Andy to take him back there, but as the years went by, the camping trips were fewer and fewer as Andy struggled to make ends meet, until finally he didn't even have enough money for Colin's petrol, and he just used him to sleep in, stuck in the University car park.

Sometimes Andy would sit in the driver's seat and start the engine and Colin's hopes would soar, thinking they were off again on some new adventure, but Andy was just charging the batteries so that the inside lights would work, and after a while, he'd pat Colin's dashboard, say "Sorry, chum", turn the engine off, and Colin would stay where he was. When Andy left college, he didn't have enough money to return to Australia and he couldn't find any work either, so he and Colin drifted round the countryside, stopping wherever Andy could find some casual labour to pay for food and enough petrol to get to the next town. Though these were not the happy days of old, at least they were out on the road together, and Colin felt he was doing what he was built for. He only wished that Andy wasn't so sad and lonely.

Eventually Andy couldn't afford to keep him any longer and put an advert in a local paper. Lots of people came to see him, but Colin was no longer the shiny new camper he used to be. He'd been outside for six years, and recently Andy hadn't been able to look after him properly. The scratch he'd got in France hadn't been repainted, the rust had got in, and some of his paint was peeling off. The furniture inside was battered and worn from continuous living, and the engine was tired and noisy from neglect. Nobody bought him.

Andy tried again, this time asking for less money, and finally he was sold. There were tears in Andy's eyes as he said goodbye to his old friend. He'd been so happy when he'd won the competition, now all his high hopes for the future had ended like this.

Colin was miserable and frightened. Miserable to be leaving the only person he knew, and frightened of his future that lay in the charge of one man - his new owner.

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