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The Wilder Shores

(I have worked on this section in more detail than the rest so far. This section would not necessarily be the last in the film. And there is probably more incident in it than could find its way into the final film.)

And so our young mother has joined the ranks of those who often call themselves 'New Age Travellers' though they might better be described as 'Homeless Urban Refugees'.

Paul, the man who she may improbably be living with, is somewhat chaotic, loutish in appearance and most typically lost in the huge guts of some lorry or bus engine, covered in grime. He has his own oxyacetylene welding equipment and seems an almost infernal character as the sparks pour from his welder and hideous sounds emanate from his angle grinder. He is short spoken but quite intelligent, with a marked chip on his shoulder, a 'Scorpio' character.

Through his life he has collected objects of all sorts, the bigger the better, i.e. mobile cranes, low loader trailers, scrap iron, etc., and these objects follow him or are abandoned round Britain. He has several children scattered around whom he seldom or hardly ever sees. We may not see too much of all this in our film - may just hear about it.

It is during a police or securicor eviction from a wood where homeless people are in caravans and tents that she and Paul become separated and she now finds herself tossed on 'the wilder shores'.

Now she is on foot with a crowd of homeless 'hippies' being driven by a mass of policemen. There are women with children in prams, and pets.

Some eight miles away they arrive in some woods where many living vehicles and tents had been parked among the trees. One explains that they have an amnesty here to stay for a week. Extremely tired, they are arriving with relief back where they think they will be safe for a while.

Outside their living vehicles men and women light fires and put the kettle on. The mother by a fire.

The two children are playing amid the trees, a short distance away.

Then other vehicles and people are crashing through the trees. 'They're coming again!'

Parents are shouting for their kids and pets, police or securicor officers are stamping out fires, directing blows at the sides of vehicles. Parents plead to wait to pick up their children and pets. But they are forced to leave without them, tearfully still shouting for them as the vehicles move off.

We see the two children abandoning their game and joining in the general panic, also being driven forward in front of the police or securicor line.

Others in a vehicle which is part of the queue to leave, scoop them out of harm's way.

Meanwhile the man, Paul has been arrested. In an emergency law court he is bound over to keep the peace and to leave the county before noon next

day, until such time as his case, for alleged obstruction of police, comes up in a month or so. Evidently, at some point along the way, he's been arrested.

Leaving court and asking the way back to the woods, he is wrongly directed.

On the road, he discovers his mistake, and realises that he won't be back much before noon.

Later, looking nervously at his watch, he arrives back in the woods. It is half past eleven. He has to be out of the county by twelve. He comes to the place where the vehicles were parked. They are gone.

A fugitive, emerging from the undergrowth, tells him about the eviction.

Now Paul is in a makeshift shelter in the woods, constructed from bits and pieces other people left behind. Noon passed without him being able to leave the county and he is hiding so as not to be picked up on the roads and imprisoned. He lights a fire and eats abandoned food.

He meets up with a lost child, not his. The child is frightened and Paul asks if she'd like to come with him. The child, Tina, agrees to come with him at least as far as the county border.

A kindly old Quaker appears from the undergrowth, tidying up. He befriends them and drives them to the county border, wishing Paul luck in his search for his wife and children.

Cathy's two children, whose names are Sara and Moonchild, are travelling in a vehicle with the people who rescued them from the wood, and are in fact at the end of the same group of vehicles that their Mum is in, although neither knows this. At a roundabout police officers direct each of these vehicles in a different direction. There is no time to set up a rendezvous for meeting again.

Paul, Sara and Moonchild, and the mother have thus been ejected into a sort of limbo. Those who have access to telephones and have regular addresses, and can rely on staying put for the foreseeable future, may find it hard at first to appreciate the considerable problem this family will have to get back together.

How they do it is, in every instance, based on true incidents, and gives an intriguing view of life as lived by these people who have 'walked away' from housing queues and solved their housing problem in vehicles or tents.

Alternating sequences featuring man, woman, and children will show their efforts to get back together.

The hope that they will make it may be allied with other concerns in the viewer's mind; how will these people whose vehicles have been trashed, documents often lost, money nearly gone through having to pay court bail and buy petrol, fairly constantly being moved on, having lost tarpaulins, tents, vehicles in the general 'rout', how will they eat, how get money, find shelter, how survive tonight, let alone tomorrow.

Their world now feels in some ways rather like that of the stateless refugees after the second world war, a world without telephones, rights, or money.

In the course of the story we will see quite a lot of their unusual lifestyle, and the sheer logistics of it are fascinating - most of us would not know how to service a huge bus engine with only primitive tools, or construct a bender tent on a winter night as snow is falling out of branches and tarpaulins.

The children, Sara and Moonchild, are questioned by the grown-ups who have befriended them about who their parents are and where do they live. As they have been travelling the latter is difficult to answer but slowly a picture of their parents' lifestyle and habits builds up.

Meanwhile the mother asks passers-by in living vehicles whether they have seen her children. No news.

She is reliving in her mind the moment when she got in the vehicle and abandoned the children. Her friends tell her 'You had to. If you didn't they'd have trashed you'. But still she feels guilt.

One of the children remembers a crucial bit of information; the town their mother often went to market in was Totnes. Someone knows someone who, she thinks, has a telephone contact number in Totnes.

The mother arrives at an encampment of some ten vehicles and tents. She is asking about the children.

A group of vehicles with which the mother is travelling parks for the night in a layby just down the road from where, unknown to her, Sara and Moonchild and their protectors are parked. Next morning Sara goes for a walk but just before she reaches the layby the other group, with their mother unknowingly in it, moves off.

Paul happens to meet an off-duty policeman and they get talking. It turns out that he was one of those drafted in from a different part of the country for the police charge in the woods. This police officer was upset by the confusing orders they were given and distressed that events like this may bring the police force into disrepute. He is also, however, critical of the behaviour of many of the young parents and wonders why they behaved in that way.

The mother learns that some of the people her daughter may be with go to 'The Stones' at Solstice. She meets a Druid organisation. Discussions of why people go to 'The Stones'. One person talks of 'the atavistic religious pull to these stones which for hundreds of years were very probably the most important religious monument in Europe'.

For others the civil rights aspects seem important since they claim unrestricted access was stipulated by the donor who gave the stones to the nation.

For others the attraction appears to be the possibility of a punch-up with the forces of law and order.

Discussions as to whether it is fair to put children through these misfortunes, because of the idealism of the parents. The Druids feeling that the hippies spoil it for the Druids. Discussion of why hippies have chosen to go on the road, against considerable odds, rather than lead a more conventional life in a bedsitter or home for the homeless.

Druids can't help with quest for the children.

A near miss in a fish and chip shop/café. While the mother is making a phone call at the back of the café, Sara and Moonchild come in and buy chips, then go out again.

The mother recalls how, in the past, the children used sometimes to ask their Mum whether they could do more 'ordinary things'. When she asked them what, they explained, 'well, like going to school'.

Someone she meets in the course of her quest says; 'You say you love your children but I see you go on taking your children through hell. You will not hear the complaints and see that many of them are justified. You are bad neighbours, but you'll never accept this. You'll go on through life harming your children, blinded by complacency, and not even notice the harm you're doing. You could slip back into society but your children can't. Illiterate, innumerate, unregistered, with no rights as citizens or any idea of how to be a citizen. What are you doing to these young people in the name of 'loving children'? Why don't you live in a house and bring them up normally like anyone else?'

For our mother, it's almost too long ago for her even to remember that that once was, or rather was not, an option.

At a roadside parkup the children sing with gusto a song which goes 'My Mum's a Hippy so am I'.

Some homeless folk look forward with a certain amount of fear to a time when the dole may not be available as now, and what sort of life will it be for middle aged or old men and women living in tents?

Some Horse people befriend the mother saying they know where the children are. She travels with them in their barrel top caravan. She is led to the children, who are also 'lost', but they are not hers.

Following clues, the mother is getting close to an actual layby where, it seems, her children are. She arrives to find ash still hot and even a kettle with water in it coming to the boil.

A police officer arriving on the scene explains they've been evicted and tries to help.

Paul, finally returning to his derelict ambulance in a wood, is hit by a stone and concussed. He crawls to a nearby road where he is picked up by a car and taken to hospital.

A friend, arriving with news of the children finds only a trail of blood.

The suicide occurs of a teenage girl who has put herself into care after running away from her parents and their homeless life.

The mother calls at a traditional Gypsy encampment where a Gypsy goes on at great and boring length about the allegations that Gypsies steal children and how untrue this is, driving her crazy with his boringness. And how the 'dirty hippies' are making things difficult for traditional Gypsies.

Paul's own travelling vehicle is being repaired. It is always nearly ready but never entirely so, causing him much frustration. Once it's ready he says he'll really get going to go and find the children.

The mother is in a café and there is a call for her in a phone box. It is the children. Just as they are about to say where they are the line goes dead.

Moonchild is in great danger. Members of an immoral commune who bonk girls when they reach puberty are attempting to move in on her.

The mother is being given a lift along a major highway in a decrepit vehicle. A long distance bus passes and is travelling in front of them. In the back window of the bus the children, who have recognised her, are waving ecstatically.

The mother can scarcely believe her eyes, she's making joyful signs at them, urging her driver to keep up with the bus, shouting to the children to tell the bus driver to stop.

The vehicle she's in develops a mechanical fault. The bus is accelerating away from her.

She's yelling at her driver to drive faster. Her vehicle shakes to a halt.

On the busy road she's leaping up and down, gesticulating for the receding bus to stop.

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