Friday, 19 August 2011

Outside the Checkbox: No Fixed Abode

When we first started travelling in our van back in 2008, it soon became apparent that people really struggled to categorise us. Otherwise middle class, well-educated, and both working in revered sectors - and yet living in a van (even "camper was stretching it a bit far as it was basically a souped-up old Renault Master). We didn't even have a fixed site to call our own, or a "proper home" to retire to when it all got too much. 

Well I could write a whole book on perceptions and stereotypes but what particularly amuses me are the reactions we've garnered over the years when we divulge we have no address.

"But how do you get post?" is my favourite query, usually accompanied by an expression more suited to news that martians have just landed. 

The fact is, I love not having an address. It lends a sense of anonymity and freedom: above all we don't have the dread of bills, official notices and junk mail dropping onto the door mat, for which I am endlessly grateful. 

Admittedly life on the boat provides a much easier solution to the issue, as we can appease people (or confuse them) with our mooring address. Some folks really don't like you not being able to give an address of some sort (it takes them out of their comfort zone) - and I'm not talking about people who want to send us birthday cards. So we give them the mooring address (where we may or may not be) and they're happy. Ish.

The other day I had to register with a doctor for the first time in a while and when I told the receptionist I couldn't receive mail at our mooring address, she stared at me and blustered "But what if we need to contact you urgently?". Er, phone me? And then, "What if we have to send you a hospital referral letter or something?", to which I just gaped at her completely nonplussed.

Our society has become so complacent, comfortable and myopic that we can't see beyond the ends of our own noses any more, and sometimes not even that!

What intrigues me most of all, though, is the utter hopelessness of our bureaucratic system in dealing with such a demographic as ours. We are, to all intents and purposes, "homeless", which is utterly bonkers.

The idea that you need an "address" to be a valid citizen of this country - regardless of how you otherwise contribute to society or to the economy etc etc - simply proves that we have a pretty crazy system in charge. And such a very British one at that - like having your status calculated from the car you drive or the clothes you wear. It makes me think of the Vernon family in Harry Potter. In which case, call me a witch any day (and your owl will find the boat if you want to send me a letter).


  1. I am so envious! Some day, I will be able to be classified as "homeless", and it won't be a day too soon.

  2. Lol. Sounds intriguing! Tell me more - do you have a blog?

  3. *DURSLEY* family. Sorry. God I really am braindead these days...!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...