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Hippy Children

Melissa and her children, faced with eviction from their comfortable home, threw in their lot with Paul, a ‘New Age’ Hippy Traveller. Soon she realised she’d said goodbye to a lot more than just bricks and mortar.

Now that the Criminal Justice Act has criminalised so much of their lifestyle, the film will be an intimate glance into what actually goes on inside the converted and partially converted and totally non converted horse boxes, tents, buses, lorries, fire engines, tipis and all the other vehicles and edifices that the Travellers have claimed as their homes.

We shall be showing the staggering beauty of some of the countryside they pass through; and staggering ugliness and pollution of other bits.

Road movies are easiest shot in the summer but aesthetically and dramatically there may be a merit in shooting it in winter when the cold begins to grip and times are hard for all travellers.

Can it be right that parents should bring up thier children, who have no choice, in this sort of environment? The film will make no moral judgement one way or the other. It will tell a poignant, gripping and passionate yarn of one mother and her children’s experiences when they joined the New Age Hippy Travellers.

Hippy Children

Principal Characters

Melissa (27)

Smartly dressed, but there is a touch of Katmandu about her outfits. Gentle to her friends, she is also full of fire and a feminist and capable of anger and power towards her enemies. Her father runs a small business importing and/or delivering cars for oil rig workers in Scotland but she doesn’t have a marked Scottish accent. Since the break-up of a relationship, she has been living on the dole, in the council house that she and her partner bought under the ‘right to buy’ scheme. Now, faced with eviction from this comfortable home, Melissa has thrown in her lot with Paul, a ‘New Age’ Hippy Traveller. Soon she realises she’s said goodbye to a lot more than just bricks and mortar.

Paul (32)

A ‘New Age’ Hippy Traveller. Sexually attractive in a rather demonic mode, he is 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 or hideous shrieks emanate from his angle grinder. He is short spoken, with a chip on his shoulder, a ‘Scorpio’ character, but also intelligent. 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’s also a busker on Irish whistle and persistent drummer. Has a dog called ‘Tea Bag’.

Lynn (13)

Melissa’s eldest daughter. At thirteen she takes a pride in her appearance. She’d largely dropped out of school already, even before the eviction, and enjoys wearing crop-tops that show off her midriff. She doesn’t get on with Paul, so she’s been sleeping in a small tent whose owner seems to have disappeared for the moment. She’s been walking into the local town most days where she hangs out in a greasy spoon café with juke box and slot machines, and as a big city lass (albeit her shoes these days a bit scuffed and muddy) has already caused quite a flutter among the lads absconding from the local secondary.

Sara (6)

Melissa’s middle daughter.

Moonshine (4)

Melissa’s youngest daughter.

Steve (42)

Old fashioned ‘peace and love’ hippy. Has a flat top with a large mobile crane. Manages to make it into bed with Melissa towards the end of our story. He perceives himself as an old fashioned peace and love hippy, but there is a strange quality of subdued violence about him; he once did time for robbery with violence, and it has taken him more than a decade to reach his present position.

Cleodi (33)

A former art school student with two children and eight months pregnant, a sub-plot concerns her attempt to find somewhere safe to have her baby.

Some Other Characters

Kindly Old Quaker (72)

From the best of Christian motives, he befriends the local travellers and tidies up after them. He stands bail for them in court and is viewed as a great nuisance but also treated with respect and almost affection at the local police station.

Ariel (40)

A sinister youngish man with crowd gathering tendencies, fancies himself as a guru and claims he is a healer, specialising in bringing people back from the edge of chaos. There are thirteen in his group, he gives lectures to them at intervals that he calls ‘satsang’. They live communally and quite well on their collective giros.

A Romani Gypsy

Angry Householder

Ante-Natal Visitor

Dee Dee (42)

A beautiful though harrassed farmer’s wife in the dilapidated but historic farmhouse which has been in her husband Robert’s family for centuries.

Robert Grayburn (42)

A disgruntled farmer, went to a minor public school. Good looking. Lives in squalor.

T.V. Interviewer

Fran; a Social Worker

Young, pretty, vulnerable.

At a Stone Circle (dusk or night)

In the fitful light from fires and lanterns, half naked hippies are dancing. There is very loud techno music. This stone circle is not Stonehenge but one of the many other much smaller stone circles in Britain. We especially notice Paul (32), an extremely scruffy young man with slashes across the knees of his greasy jeans, spaced out, dancing with abrupt machine-like movements.

Title over this

The heavy metal music is deafening; a battered mini conceals a series of powerful speakers normally used at impromptu festivals.

Amid the crowded dancers we notice a woman from the village who has come up to ask that they turn the volume down because two people in the village are on their deathbeds and it is disturbing them because they’ve never heard music like that, or music so loud.

‘Can’t do that,’ snaps Paul. ‘But why?’ ‘We have to spread the rutting message.’

The volume of the music and the ‘post nuclear’ intensity of the dancers increases. There is something apocalyptic about the dance style, dancers as if in defiant worship of cosmic energies which are godlike but also will ultimately kill them. Only a certain allotted span is assigned them to tread the path of ecstacy.

Vegetable stew bubbling over a fire. Sitting on an old armchair beside it, Lynn (13) and a hippy lass her own age share a can of Special Brew. They are dressed as if for a disco and very bright eyed. This is what life in the adult world is going to be like. They hope, yet gigglingly dread, that some lad is going to come up to talk to them. A lad dances by and offers them the remains of a joint. The hippy lass takes a puff and passes it to Lynn who tries to look experienced as she takes it and bursts out coughing.

Not far away on the outskirts of the dancers is Melissa (27), Lynn’s mother, a little anachronistic in a rather clean-looking white blouse she’s put on specially for the party, undulating slightly outside the group, seems contented.


Smartly dressed, but there is a touch of Katmandu about her outfit. Gentle to her friends, she is also full of fire and a feminist, capable of anger and power towards her enemies. Her father runs a small business importing and/or delivering cars for oil rig workers in Scotland but she doesn’t have a marked Scottish accent. Since the break-up of a relationship, she has been living on the dole.

The flickering flames reveal women young, old, buxom, sveldte, clothed and half or entirely naked, dancing. Some hold up their arms and seem to be singing or howling to the moon or some cosmic deity. For a moment we pull back to show, in the dim dusk light, the empty and beautiful moorland stretching away around them.

Across the vast horizon we may superimpose (mix) two naked arms, their wrists bleeding. As this image becomes clearer, we pull back to show two hippies who have slightly cut their wrists and are exchanging blood. They are probably mainly clothed. The same cannot be said of Sid (52), a portly middle-aged man with huge paunch who, entirely naked except for leafy wreath, appears to be christening a line of babies, some screaming, some complacent, held by clothed and unclothed mothers.

A hippy, smoking a long hash pipe, sits atop a phallus-stone. Underneath, eight feet or so below him, a woman embraces the stone, wrapping her breasts around it.

In a mud bath two naked young and plainish hippy lasses are tending the clay spattered erection of an ill-favoured guy.

Now we see Sara (6) hurrying towards her mother Melissa through the writhing dancers.

Sara: Mum!

Melissa: What, Sara?

Melissa stops dancing and bends down to her daughter’s level.

Sara: Moonshine’s crying!

Melissa takes Sara’s hand. Sara leads her to where Moonshine (4) lies on a tatty sofa behind one of the stones. She cradles her on her knee to comfort her while Sara practises jumping.

The Stones; the Rout

The deafening roar of a helicopter arrives us in the middle of a police charge in which Melissa, holding Moonshine and flanked by Sara, is driven forward in the centre of a group of women and children, and men, across a fence with barbed wire on top by police officers with riot shields and batons drawn. Children lacerate their hands and legs in trying to climb the fence. The helicopter hovering noisily overhead jabbers loud messages that are incomprehensible. A few police officers, bewildered and angry, are striking out with their batons.

Melissa: (to the crowd in general) Where’s Lynn? Has anyone seen Lynn?

The Stones; another part of the Rout

We also catch sight of Paul and Lynn in a different part of the rout and close to each other but not together. Paul may throw back a stone at the advancing police officers, and Lynn an empty beer can.

Main Road (30 minutes later)

The band of some hundreds of ‘hippies’ are on an empty main road being driven by a mass of police officers. A few hippy vehicles among them. There are women with children in prams.

The Woods (30 minutes later, Dawn)

About a mile away lie the woods. Living vehicles and tents are here, left from when they walked across to the solstice celebration last night. This was the furthest they were allowed to bring their vehicles. Tired, since they have been up all night, they are arriving back home. There are ‘bender tents’, converted horse boxes, huge gaunt rusty buses with their windows smashed, the occasional touring caravan, some living vehicles in good condition, attractively painted in bright colours.

Paul’s Bus

Melissa is sitting on a bit of carpet (or supermarket basket), boiling up water on a fire she’s just lighted.

Sara: Won’t the Shades chase us away from here as well, Mum?

Melissa: No, Paul says they’ve said it’s alright for us to stay here for a day or so.

Sara: (with a little sigh) Hope so.

Moonshine: Where’s Lynn?

Melissa: Lynn will be back soon. I expect she’s with Paul.

Outside Paul’s Bus, a few hours later, about 10 a.m.

Outside the bus, Melissa is now cooking a stew on the embers of a fire.

Another part of the Woods

Sara and Moonshine playing amid the trees, wandering with a muddy toy tractor and trailer laden with small muddy bears.

By a Stream (30 minutes later)

Paul, crouched, is filling an empty plastic container. He returns to the bus and Melissa gives him a kiss, pours water into the kettle for another cup of tea.


Paul, can’t we brighten up this old monstrosity?


What’s rutting wrong with it?


Not for itself, but, I mean, the filth can see us ten mile off . You know, ‘hippy vehicle’. Give it a dollop of paint?


(with a bleak smile) Will do. I’m getting ten litres of marine standard gloss soon as a deal I’ve set up is completed. Going to paint it in rutting rainbows. And the Moon Goddess.


A ‘New Age’ Hippy Traveller. Sexually attractive in a rather demonic mode, he is 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, with a chip on his shoulder, a ‘Scorpio’ character, but is also intelligent. Through his life he has collected objects of all sorts, the bigg er the better, i.e. mobile cranes, low loader trailers, scrap iron, etc., and these objects follow him or are abandoned round Britain. He’s also a busker on Irish whistle and persistent drummer. Has a dog called ‘Tea Bag’.


I’m rutting wired up after that with the filth. There’s a rutting new dealer on site. I’m going to score.


All right. Don’t be long.

The atmosphere is relaxed, giving Melissa time to reflect that her younger children are thriving; they like this open air life far better than life on the council estate, though Melissa is worried at the habits they’re picking up from some of the other children.

Other parts of the Wood

Other scenes of contented domesticity as the hippies eat or sleep. A woman giving the breast to her baby.

Melissa’s daughter Lynn wanders by with a girlfriend, giggling and stoned.

There is a bit of a problem, though, Melissa reflects, with her eldest daughter, Lynn. At thirteen she takes a pride in her appearance. She’s dropped out of school and doesn’t get on with Paul, so she’s been sleeping in a small tent whose owner seems to have disappeared for the moment. She’s been walking into the local town most days where she hangs out in a greasy spoon café with juke box and slot machines, and as a big city lass (albeit her shoes these days a bit scuffed and muddy) has already caused quite a flutter among the lads absconding from the local secondary.

The Woods; Eviction; about noon

This fairly peaceful idyll is shattered by a cry: ‘The filth! They’re coming again!’ Vehicles and people are crashing through the trees. Melissa is shouting for her kids, other women shouting for pets and menfolk. This time it is also heavily armoured Securicor thugs and vigilantes who are stamping out fires. One directs a blow, smashing a vehicle window.

Cleodi: Just let us stay till the kids get back!

Securicor: Move or I’ll smash this fucking window!

Cleodi (33) A former art school student with two children and eight months pregnant, a sub-plot concerns her attempt to find somewhere safe to have her baby.

Desperately shouting for Paul as the Securicor approach, Melissa, still shouting for her children, climbs into the driver’s seat and starts the engine. Melissa at the wheel is moving Paul’s vehicle off among the trees, still shouting as she goes for Lynn and Paul and Sara and Moonshine. She’s had very little experience driving such a big vehicle and the bus is lurching and weaving among the trees.

Another Part of the Woods

Sara and Moonshine, abandoning their game and joining in the general panic, also being driven forward in front of police officers. Moonshine is crying, Sara trying to carry her.

Cleodi and friends in a converted horsebox which lurches past scoop them into the back of the vehicle, out of harm’s way. Cleodi is heavily (eight months) pregnant.

Cleodi: In you get. Come on. Quick!

Sara: (crying) Where’s Mum?

Cleodi: She’s gone ahead. We’ll get you back with her in a moment.

Sara: (to Moonshine) We’re going to see Mum in a minute.

Another Part of the Woods

Paul, hearing sounds of disturbance and running back with a paper bag of grass, is appalled to see his bus distantly moving away. He runs to catch it up but is unable to. A Securicor man sings:

Securicor man: (sings) Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run!

Paul collapses by a smouldering vehicle. Mick, a good-looking Scotsman, explains to Paul that he set fire to it so it couldn’t be moved.

Mick: Och, it was fucked. ‘Twould not go again in a million years.

Paul: You know Melissa?

Mick: What, you mean Melissa of ‘Lissa and Paul?

Paul: Paul’s me.

Mick: I know.

Paul: Did she and the kids get rutting away alright?

Mick: Oh aye. I think so, Paul.

The same, 30 minutes later

A kindly old Quaker is tidying up after the rout. He comes upon Paul who has rekindled a fire. He learns Paul’s situation and says he’ll drive him in search of his ‘nearest and dearest’. They are sitting by the fire.

Someone is hovering nearby. It is Lynn. Abandoned food lies nearby and Paul tells Lynn to come and join them and eat some. Paul asks whether she knows where her Mum was heading. Lynn explains she has no idea, she’s been in the café in town. Lynn has so far always been hostile and standoffish with Paul, but now she sidles up and they exchange their news, or lack of it.

Lynn sits by the fire and relaxes. She stiffens up again when Paul begins rolling a joint which she refuses, and then agrees to his suggestion that she comes with him and he’ll help her back to her Mum.

In Paul’s Bus; Melissa

Melissa is driving, every now and then trying to look back over her shoulder for the kids. But a police officer waves her on.

In a Converted Horsebox, travelling along the road; Cleodi, Sara, Moonshine

Sara and Moonshine are travelling in the converted horsebox with Cleodi and the people who rescued them from the police charge. Cleodi is questioning them, trying to work out who their Mum is.

In Paul’s Bus, ahead down the road; Melissa

Unknown to the children, ahead in Paul’s bus is their Mum, Melissa. It seems inevitable they’ll meet, but;

At a Crossroads

A police officer stands. After Melissa has passed, a police car pulls across. A police officer explains that if they continue on that route they can be ‘public ordered’ as they will count as six vehicles travelling together. Cleodi tries to explain that she has children with her and wants to stay with the mainstream, but is waved to the left.

In the Quaker’s Car; nearby town; Quaker, Paul, Lynn

Paul and Lynn being driven by the Quaker. Passing through the nearby town, Lynn unexpectedly asks to be put down by the café where she has a friend who has always said she should feel free to call on him if she needs help. Paul appears worried at this. Wouldn’t she be better to get to find her Mum, and who is this friend? But Lynn knows her own mind and flounces from the car.

Scrapyard; Paul

Paul is engaged in buying a car which, although not licenced, is more or less a goer. He plans to buy it and in it pursue Melissa. Watching the transaction is the kindly old Quaker who watches Paul drive off and wishes him ‘God speed’.

In a Layby; Cleodi, Sara, Moonshine

Cleodi pouring from a pot of tea. She offers cups to Sara and Moonshine.

Sara: Has it got milk in it? My Mum doesn’t let us have dairy products.

This remark reminds Moonshine how much she misses her Mum.

Moonshine: I want my mummy!

Sara comforts her.

In another Layby; Melissa

Melissa also pouring a cup of tea. Sipping from the cup as she goes, she climbs back into the bus and sits for a moment, a little desperate and lost in thought. She really no longer has any idea where to go to look for the kids. She may share her thoughts with Ra (13), a young lad she’s befriended. Ra offers her the end of a joint. With a sigh, and joint in mouth, she begins to cruise the bus down a long windy hill. It is taking quite a degree of concentration to manoevre it round the bends. Unexpectedly, the battered mobile car phone by the dashboard rings. She lifts it up, it is Paul.

Paul: (on the phone) Melissa!

Melissa: Paul!

Paul: Where the fuckoff piss are you?

Melissa: I don’t know. Where are you?

Paul: Well ...

Melissa realises the bus is going much too fast.

Melissa: Paul! How do I stop this thing?

Paul: What?

Melissa: The bus! It’s going down a hill. Too fast! How do I stop it?

Paul: What? Oh, stamp on the rutting brakes.

Melissa: Oh Paul, I think the pissoff brakes have ... fuckoff - got fucked!

The bus lurches on with Melissa slamming her foot down on the floor and the telephone retailing anxious advice from Paul. The bus is now out of control. Seeing a further even longer hill stretching ahead, Melissa drives left through the hedge. The bus plunges into a meadow and overturns.

Paul: Lissa? Lissa?

Melissa staggers from the side of the upturned bus and siezes the car phone. Part falls off and wires sprout out into her hand.

Melissa: Paul! Paul! Can you hear me?

But Paul’s voice also continues:

Paul: Lissa, fuckoff, Lissa! Just tell me where’s my fuckoff bus! Can you rutting pissoff hear me? Lissa?

Melissa climbs from the bus, sees distant figures approaching, gets out of sight behind the bus and runs into a wood. She sits and bursts into tears.

So this family has been disintegrated and our story will show how, in a world where they feel it dangerous to contact police or social services, because of fear of victimisation or because of vehicles which may be unlicenced, uninsured, or unroadworthy, and above all because of the constant fear that children may be taken into care, a world without fixed addresses and with a lifestyle that has been effectively criminalised by the Criminal Justice Bill, they strive to get back together. Alternating sequences will feature the increasingly desperate attempts of the woman (Melissa), the children (Lynn, Sara and Moonshine), and Paul to find each other and get back together.

At a Fireside; Melissa

Three Hippy women.

Hippy Woman 1: Go to the police.

Melissa: Should I?

Hippy Woman 1: That’s what I’d do.

Hippy Woman 2: Never trust the Filth. Don’t you go near them!

Melissa: I don’t know.

Hippy Woman 2:

Listen, they’ll find your rutting children for you, but they won’t give them back to you. That’s what happened to Double Decker Sharon, do you know her?



Hippy Woman 2:

Well it did. They took her kids into care.


Oh no! Why should they? They’ll know I’m a good mum ‘cos look how hard I’m searching.

Hippy Woman 2:

Well, this life has been made criminal now. A child is in danger if it’s being brought up as a criminal. Therefore it must be taken into care for its own safety.

Hippy Woman 3:

Then they’ll get you for drugs and driving an unlicenced vehicle. Is it unlicenced?


It’s on its side in a field.

Hippy Woman 2:

Well, they’ll get that off of you and impound it.

Hippy Woman 3:

And you too if you so much as show your face to them. Keep away from the filth. Never trust the filth. They’ve been given their orders. Get rid of the rutting hippies. Quite rutting pissoff simple. Pissing vanish them.

In a Café

Lynn being chatted up by a boy of 16. Predatory man says he’ll take her to join Ariel and his group. There she’ll find Melissa.

In Cleodi’s Vehicle; Sara and Moonshine

Sara and Moonshine are questioned by the grown-ups.

Sara: Well, my Mum’s name is Melissa.


Melissa! Well, we should be able to trace that. There can’t be too many Melissas.

Sara: And we travel around the place.

Moonshine: And we live in Council House.

Sara: No, we don’t. We live in Paul’s bus now.

Cleodi: (thoughtfully) Paul ...

In a Phone Box; Melissa

Melissa has been trying to ring Festival Welfare Services, an organisation that used to be of help in situations like this but has now, after 20 years (unknown to Melissa) lost its grant, so no longer exists. Melissa puts the phone down and sighs. She is desperate.

Melissa comes from a world where police and social services are there to help, and she realises she can’t turn to them. All she has is a desperate compulsive emptiness in her stomach, a dry yearning sick imperative to get back with her children.

Various locations; Melissa

Melissa knocks on various vehicle doors, enquiring whether anyone has seen the children.

By the Horsebox; Sara and Moonshine

Moonshine: He’s called Paul.

Cleodi: And who is he then?

Moonshine: Well, me Mum’s new boyfriend. He’s a busker.

Cleodi: Where does he busk?

Moonshine: He busks in the market place.

Cleodi: Hm. What else does he do?

Moonshine: He talks to us on his telephone.

Cleodi: Telephone! Do you know his number?

Moonshine: Oh no.


Yes! Mum wrote it on my bottom before the solstice in case we got into trouble.

Cleodi: Your bottom, darling!

Tears are running down Cleodi’s face at this exciting new development. She rolls down Sara’s skirt revealing a biro’d number. We close on the number and over Sara’s part naked bottom with the number mix (slow dissolve) to the remains of the;

Upturned Bus

We look over the remains of the upturned bus as the car phone receives a message.

Sara & Moonshine: Mum? Mum? Are you there? Mum!

Cleodi: Hello? Anyone there?

We dissolve again slowly into;

The Brew Crew Parkup; Melissa

In her search for the children, Melissa has arrived at a ‘Heavy Metal’ type Traveller site. Conversation about the high to be got from pig tranquilizer. She’s asking whether anyone has seen them. Rubbish lies around, there are unkempt and mangy dogs, some of the vehicles have a skeleton appearance, the panels of buses have been removed, many smashed windows, some patched inadequately, mud, despair, cans of Special Brew, someone’s going at a chassis with an angle grinder.

Unattractive, threatening characters. There people spend all their dole money on Special Brew and hard drugs. Some people claim the two are the same because of the extraordinary ingredients that go into English lager.

Feeling of despair and hostility. On hearing that Lynn is 13, a guy says; ‘Send her this way, we’ll look after her.’ Brew Crew 2 adds; ‘And you too, if you’d care to, darling.’ The group sit around their converted bus, three or four Afro-Caribbean young women, a huge ‘healer’, some fairly straight looking young men ...

Ariel and his Group; Lynn

‘We’ll look after you,’ says Ariel, leader of Ariel and his group.

Ariel is a sinister young man with guru and crowd gathering tendencies who claims he is a healer specialising in bringing people back from the edge of chaos.

Lynn’s friend from the café continues introducing her. Lynn reminds him he said Melissa would be here. Where is she? Ariel makes reassuring noises, but Lynn is not sure whether to accept his help. A hippy girl her own age nudges her when the others are not looking and says she’ll stand by her. ‘I really will,’ she adds, ‘and what’s more, you’re going to fuckoff need it.’ Lynn says she thinks she may not stay, she’s not sure she likes it here. ‘You’re fuckoff too late,’ says the hippy girl.

Paul’s Dump

Paul has arrived back with the car he bought already a write-off, towed on an AA low loader. Even before the AA man has finished checking his card, Paul starts tinkering with an ancient vehicle that stands by his bender. Two urban yobbos, concealed, observing.

Traditional Gypsy Encampment; Melissa

A Gypsy:

They say Gypsies steal children but that’s not true. They take our children from us.

Melissa has called at a Traditional Romany Gypsy encampment, probably a local authority official site for Gypsies.

The Gypsy drones on and on, boring her.

Paul’s Dump

Paul turns, seeing his bender is on fire. Trying to rescue his belongings he gets badly burned. He crawls towards the nearby highway.

Traditional Gypsy Encampment; Melissa

The Gypsy drones on and on, boring Melissa. She tries to interrupt, to ask whether they’ve seen the children, and at length shouts in exasperation, asking them to stop droning on, and listen.

Highway; Paul

Paul has staggered or crawled to beside the highway. A car stops and the driver says; ‘Good heavens, we’ve got to get you to hospital!’ He helps Paul in.

Traditional Gypsy Encampment; Melissa

Melissa: I must be going.

Gypsy: Going where, dear?


(in a very desperate state) I’ll just go on from place to place. Everywhere that the Travellers stop. Somewhere I’ll hear news of the children. If I go far and fast enough.


Everywhere Travellers stop? That’s thousands and thousands of places.


I’ll go to them all. Someone will know of them.


What if they’ve already been taken?


What d’you mean, taken?


Taken into care, dear.

Melissa is flabbergasted a moment. Then she says;

Melissa: Then someone somewhere will be able to tell me about that - and where it happened. And where they’ve got to.

Paul’s Dump; Paul

Paul, bandaged, back outside his bender, trying to get his vehicle to go. It is a large ex-Army crane, or possibly an ex-Army machine gun carrier.

With the Horse People; Melissa

Melissa sitting behind the horse on the front of a horse drawn bowtop caravan. Some horse people have befriended her, saying they know where the children are. Melissa is ready to clutch at any straw and has convinced herself that the children the other end of the road will be her children.

Through Melissa’s eyes we learn something of the lifestyle of these people whose horses are almost ‘sacred’ in the way that cows are to some African tribes.

At a Tipi Encampment; Cleodi, Sara and Moonshine

Sara and Moonshine pass the time combing each other’s hair.

This is not Tipi Valley, but a place where there are two or three residential tipis. Cleodi explains to Sara and Moonshine she’s going to leave them here with her friends while she goes for her ante-natal check-up.

Sinister grove on the hill at Faringdon Folly

Melissa and the horse people arrive. There are a number of horse people camped here and many children, but not Melissa’s children.

One of them is a child called Tina who mentions Sara. Doesn’t know where she is now, but she’s seen her. Try a layby she mentions.

Layby; By an Old Bus

Sara, Moonshine and other children are singing with gusto a song which goes ‘My Mum’s a Hippy, So Am I’. Sitting round, some homeless hippy folk look forward with anxiety 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?

The Same Layby (later); Melissa

The layby is now empty. Melissa has arrived at this layby where, she’s learned, Sara and Moonshine had been seen. Ash still hot and a kettle still with water in it. A neighbour (or possibly Good Hearted Police Officer) explains they’ve been evicted and tries to help.

On a Common; Cleodi, Sara and Moonshine

Cleodi pushing Sara and Moonshine into a hiding place under the bed. The ante-natal midwife is about to arrive and Cleodi believes she mustn’t know about the children or she might try to put them into care. The Ante Natal Visitor arrives and all goes well until there’s a knock on the window and a Police Officer appears and tells them they must be gone within half an hour as there are more than six vehicles. The ante-natal visitor points out in vain that the sixth car is hers and also Cleodi ought to stay put as she will soon be giving birth, but the police officer has his orders. Ante-natal visitor drives off. The children come out.

As if this wasn’t enough, as they wait for the eviction, an angry householder has come over to talk to them; ‘You say you love your children, but I see you taking your children through hell because you won’t learn. You will not hear the complaints and see that they’re 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 nil 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’?’

Cleodi gives a spirited reply to all this, all the more poignant in that she knows, which her questioner doesn’t, that these children are not hers.

As they prepare for the eviction, Sara is asked what she’d like to be when she grows up and she replies ‘ordinary’.

On another part of the Common; Melissa

Melissa’s nerves are more and more on edge as she fails to find the children.

In a Fish & Chip Café; Melissa

Melissa, with many a sigh of exasperation, is using a public phone at the back of the chippy. Sara and Moonshine come in and buy a portion of chips. They don’t see their Mum and go out again. Melissa finishes her fruitless call.

Tipi Valley; Melissa

In her desperate search for the kids, another clue has led Melissa to Tipi Valley, that extraordinary place in West Wales where some forty families live in large Indian tipis.

In a Tipi; Melissa

‘It’s for you, Melissa.’ Melissa’s friend excitedly hands her the mobile phone. It is the children. Just as they are about to say where they are, the line goes dead. Melissa goes out to cry. She is footsore and limping.

With the Straight Couple; Sara and Moonshine

Sara and Moonshine have themselves gone off in search of their mum.

With the Creek People; Melissa

Melissa is enquiring among the many homeless people who now live in decrepit creek boats on rivers like the Tamar.

In a Café; Sara and Moonshine

A conventional type couple, possibly the same as ‘angry nearby householder’, pick up Sara and Moonshine.

Hillside; Melissa

In her travels, Melissa passes some chalets which have been squatted and are being bulldozed. A horsebox is being towed by council vehicles. There is one elderly couple.

Melissa: So, what’s going to happen to you?

Elderly Couple: Oh, the council will get us somewhere.

Melissa: I wish I could believe that.

Elderly Couple: We’ll be alright. I’m sorry to go though. That chalet was a funny old place but we were fond of it.’

Conventional Couple’s Home; Sara and Moonshine

The conventional couple are giving the children a meal and clandestinely ring the social services to come and get them. Sara and Moonshine notice this is happening.

Ariel and his Group; Lynn

Skins, tobacco, dope, being handed to Lynn. It’s supper time and Helen, a girl Lynn’s age, explains all joints are handed to teens (also called juves) to be carefully and ritually rolled for the adults in this commune. Helen begins to tell her more of what will be expected of her.

Conventional Couple’s Home; Sara and Moonshine

The children are escaping.

Farmhouse at The Orchard; Melissa

Dee Dee: But I know that I wouldn’t be able to stop anywhere if I’d lost my children. I’d have to go on looking.

Dee Dee (42), a beautiful though harrassed farmer’s wife in the dilapidated but historic farmhouse which has been in her husband Robert’s family for centuries

Dee Dee is asking whether Melissa really wants to settle down here. Melissa explains she’s so travel weary that she feels she has to have a rest for a few days. And, through her having a semi-permanent address, the children and Paul are more likely to be able to find her.

Dee Dee shouts upstairs to ask permission of her disgruntled husband Robert and he says she can move into an empty bender tent in his orchard.

Ariel and his Group; Lynn

Ariel’s group, including a number of pregnant Afro-Caribbean girls, gathered outside a tipi. Ariel emerges from underneath their communal bus to give a lecture on ‘bunching up time’.

The Orchard; Melissa

Melissa nervously lighting a stove in the bender tent, neighbours come to visit. Melissa sleeps, and sleeps, and sleeps.

When she wakes, people say they thought she was never going to wake up. Stunned, she listens at first glumly, and then with enthusiasm as Orchard folk explain they feel they’re getting closer to ‘Mother Earth’ and are claiming a little bit of this ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ for themselves. This country, unlike Ireland, Portugal, Italy, has not recently had an agrarian revolution so the distribution of land, they feel, must be made fairer.

Talk of all the empty land available, army camps, and all the land on setaside. The Queen alone gets a million a year from her land setaside.

The institutionalised violence of the state, that deprives folk of access to their own land, related to its ritual breaking up of families through homelessness.

At a Bender Camp; Cleodi, Sara, Moonshine

Cleodi says how much she needs somewhere tranquil to have her baby. The return of Sara and Moonshine. Cleodi is pleased, though really it is the last thing she needs.

The Orchard; Melissa

Various scenes show Melissa settling down here, getting her strength back before her next onslaught.

Melissa finds she has arrived amidst the most idealistic type of New Age Hippy Travellers. Many of the aspirations of many teenagers and young adults seem to have been realised here. Vegetarians, wanting to live lightly on Mother Earth and feeling that bricks and mortar houses use up too many of the world’s resources, they have access to a loo in the house, but prefer to recycle their shit through reed beds.

One snag, Melissa is told, is the drongo camp in the woods. They are a group, mainly men, who fell out with the farmer. They’re acid freaks and live in an anti-social way in the woods, threatening the good reputation of the orchard. Their drumming is sometimes very loud at night.

The Farmhouse at The Orchard; Melissa

Grayburn, the farmer, explains he’s got to ask them to leave. The council have not given him planning permission; if he lets them stay he will be CJA’d, sent to prison or fined £1,000 a day.

The Orchard

Despite Robert’s predicament, many of the Travellers angrily say they refuse to leave.

Ariel and his Group; Lynn

Lynn in happy conversation with a lad a few years older than her. To her surprise she finds he can’t read.

The Orchard; Melissa

There is a reconstruction of a celtic wattle and daub roundhouse, and Melissa is chatting with Julia, its owner, or just looking round it.

Losing her way back from the reed beds, Melissa unexpectedly arrives at the;

Drongo Camp in the Woods

Frenzied drumming by dull-eyes drongoes. Suddenly she cries out. She’s recognised Paul! She goes up to him.

The family is coming together again! Paul and she together will find the children. But Paul, stoned out of his mind, hardly seems to recognise her, gives only a cursory greeting. He mutters obsessively about an old fire engine the group are hoping to pool their dole cheques to buy, all the while never ceasing his drumming. It is a bitter disappointment to Melissa.

Outside a Tipi; Sara and Moonshine

Sara and Moonshine, combing each other’s hair. Harp nearby.


I love the way you groom each other like that all the time. It’s so romantic.

Public Enquiry

At a public enquiry about the Orchard, a local taxpayer, speaking on behalf of the Travellers, says how ashamed he is that his taxes are being used to deprive pregnant women and invalids, and children, of water, and to harrass them.

At the Orchard; Melissa

Melissa has come to say goodbye. She’s got back her strength and is ready for anything. As she is leaving, Robert emerges from his den. He beckons her to him and offers her a small bus which is fitted for living and belonged to someone who is in prison. It’s even got a licence and an MoT certificate - for just a month. Melissa is thrilled, she feels recovered from her stay here and is really keen to get back on the road to find the kids.

Outside a Tipi; Sara and Moonshine

Sara: You know when you said that about combing our hair?

Boadicea: Yes?

Sara: It’s not romantic really. We’re trying to get rid of the nits.

Moonshine: Yeah, we got nits!

She holds one up.

Empty Army Camp Hospital (night); Melissa

Travellers from the Orchard are checking out an empty Army Camp by night. There is a tap. ‘It’ll be good to have running water.’ In the darkness a torch lights up a hard-standing outside a derelict bungalow.

Hippy: Who shall we put here?

Hippy: Well, this would do Melissa.

On the Road

Melissa sits, depressed, outside her new bus. It has broken down. Steve (42), an old fashioned peace and love hippy with a large crane, arrives and hitches her up.

Empty Army Camp (later that night)

Towed by Steve, Melissa at the wheel of the new bus, parks it outside the bungalow.

Army Camp (morning)

Some sleep. Others stand guard. They are worried about retaliation. It is not long in coming; a police officer arrives on a bicycle, smiling. ‘I’ve not come to move you along. Good luck to you.’

The Army Camp

Some workmen are putting up tall wire mesh fences around the camp, to try to prevent them getting in, or out. Some people are doing up their bungalows but Melissa still lives in the new bus.

Public Horse Trough

At a public horse trough they are filling cans with water.

‘There was water in the taps, wasn’t there?’

‘Rutting cut it off, didn’t they?’

At Paul’s Dump; Paul

A police officer reminds Paul he can go to prison if he ignores his direction to move. Paul explains he has had his licence suspended. The police officer says there’s nothing he can do about that, Paul had better get moving. Paul climbs into his bren-gun carrier and starts it.

Army Camp; Melissa

Bailiffs, High Sheriff, Police, Securicor, Television Crew and Journalists.

The High Sheriff reads the court order. Bailiffs are breaking down doors of some bits of the hospital that have been squatted and also of some vehicles. Babies are crying. Sounds of smashing glass.

Melissa comes out of her vehicle, only flaring up when a security officer places a hand on her arm.

Farmhouse at The Orchard

Grayburn is looking through the mail. One envelope comes from the Department of the Environment. He opens it and says, ‘Good heavens, it looks as if we’ve won!’

Ariel and his Group; In a Bender; Lynn

Ariel is sending Lynn on an LSD trip, telling her she’s his Aphrodite. Theory is that there will be an imprint from a first time trip so that the receiver will always love the giver.

On a Road; Paul

Paul’s bren-gun carrier is stopped by a police officer who asks to see his licence. On Paul’s despairing face we cut to;

Ariel and his Group; Lynn

Lynn, tripping, escapes from Ariel’s bed. She runs to Helen’s bender, both run off in the darkness to hide. Ariel is coming after them.

Army Camp; Melissa

Run some of this sound over the above;

Television lights on. Standing amidst the debris, Melissa is being interviewed.


But the Council say while you ‘hippies’ have been squatting this place, it has got to look like a rubbish tip.


Mess! We’ve been tidying up. We’ve mended windows.


They also say the children are unwashed and dirty.


Dirty - who cut off the water? Have you ever tried to wash a child without water?

Angry Neighbour:

Wash a child! She can’t wash a child! She can’t wash ‘em. She’s lost her children.


The smells are not very savoury.

Army Camp; Melissa

Now we’re at the Army Camp as we see Melissa and hear the interviewer say;


Did someone say you’ve lost your children?


(in tears) No, they’re not lost. They’re just stashed. Stashed so they won’t be taken away and put into care.


(bewildered by this, so continuing his interview he repeats); The smells are not very savoury.


Yes, and you’re beautiful aren’t you? In your poncy suit. Typical man!

She pushes the interviewer into the mud.

Director: (to cameraman) Don’t cut!

Cameraman: Are you joking?

The interviewer is struggling out of the mud, rather theatrically for the benefit of the viewers. Melissa is thrilled yet appalled at what she’s done, while other squatters try to restrain her, others are laughing. Out of the surrounding darkness comes a cry, ‘Mum!’

Lynn rushes out of the darkness into her mother’s arms. Melissa cries, ‘Lynn!’ and now it is tears of joy in her eyes and she has one arm round Lynn for the rest of the interview.


I was merely quoting the Council. Now, from your point of view, is there anything you’d like to say?


It’s not enough to suffer. We’ve got to do something.


(to her Mum) Like what?


Yes, like what? What can you do but suffer?


Occupy all the empty Army camps. Occupy all the empty houses. Occupy all the empty commons and all the land that’s on setaside!

Army Camp; Tow Away; Melissa and Lynn

In the darkness, vehicles being towed away and people leaving.


I saw you on telly, Mum. They did some bits earlier saying it was going to be on. There was a picture of you. I had to get away. There was this really creepy guy. Helen and I stole his motor!

They arrive at the clapped out Ford Escort. Helen says, ‘Hello!’

A Hillside; Melissa, Paul and Lynn

Paul appears, threadbare and stoned.

Paul: Too late! I always wanted to be on the rutting telly.

Lynn is distressed at the state Paul has got into. Helen is dowsing for the children with a pendulum. Giving absent healing to them with a chant (‘May your road rise upwards all the way’). Helen is thrilled to announce they’ll be passing on a nearby trunk road tomorrow. Where are they on their way to? Various clues suggest they’re on their way to their father. What, that creep? Where is he now, anyway?

Helen: I don’t know. All I’m getting is just a jumble of numbers and letters. Write them down!

Out of the jumble come: A - 4 - 6 - 0 - 9.

Rundown Site (evening); Melissa and Lynn

Various evicted vehicles are pulling on to site, including a bus driven by Steve, the old-fashioned ‘peace and love’ hippy, the one who towed her bus earlier. He offers to drive her in search of the younger children, but clearly there is a price to be paid.

Lynn has vanished but now she arrives back from town, says she’s putting herself into care, having spent the day talking with the social services. That means she can go back to school, which is what she really wants to do. Lynn says a social worker wanted to come and talk to Melissa but Lynn felt this might upset her mother and said she’d make an appointment. Melissa asks Lynn not to bring the social worker because she might find out about the other kids. Then, as it sinks in what is happening, she implores, ‘Just stay a few more days with me.’

‘Just sleep one more night with me,’ Melissa implores, ‘at the least’, and Lynn agrees.

Desolate Hillside with a Tipi; Stormy Night; Cleodi, Sara, Moonshine

Rain and sleet. Figures knock on the side of the bender. They are Sara and Moonshine. The entrance flap opens a bit showing a warm smoke-filled interior filled with adults and children.

Tipi John: Goodness, you’d better come in quickly, out of the rain.

Cleodi follows Sara and Moonshine in.

Cleodi: Is it really OK?

Tipi John: Come in!


It’s hard to explain but, thing is, actually, I’ve started the pains. I was looking for somewhere to have a baby.

Women leap up and some men and immediately there is a welcoming commotion in the tipi as Cleodi collapses.

Rundown Site (stormy night); Melissa, Lynn

Melissa and Lynn sleep on the hillside, sharing Melissa’s bedding. Melissa finds it hard to sleep. At one point she wakes up her daughter. ‘Please don’t go. I need your help.’

Hillside with Tipi

Birth of Cleodi’s baby.

Rundown Site (dawn); Melissa, Lynn, Steve

Melissa is still only half asleep at dawn and Steve wanders over and says he’ll drive Melissa wherever she wants to go, he’ll get her bus going and drive it for her. Melissa, in despair, finally climbs into his vehicle and his bed.

Rundown Site, later that morning

Arrival of Sara and Moonshine’s father, Guy, a straight bully of a man. He’s demanding to know where they are. He’s going to the police to find them and get them back.

Melissa says she doesn’t know where Sara and Moonshine are and Guy doesn’t believe her. Paul appears. Mutual dislike of Paul, Guy, Steve. Paul, stoned, says he has an address for Sara and Moonshine, doesn’t know if it’s any good, can’t find it at once, then remembers its written in biro on his forearm. ‘They’re going there in the morning. Going to be there tomorrow.’

It seems as if all three men are about to leave for this address in their various vehicles.

Steve’s bus is going at last. Jerkily he’s driving it along the trunk road. Melissa is beside him, perched on the area that houses the gearstick. Both are thoughtful and silent after last night’s events and in addition Steve is wondering whether the occasional judders that shake the vehicle are bad news or not.

Lynn is with them in the front seat, not saying much. Melissa hopes/believes that Lynn has forgotten about putting herself into care.

Steve has veered out to pass another large vehicle and there is the sound of an impatient driver behind. They pull back to the inner lane and a large inter-city bus passes them, flashing its lights.

Steve: Rutting Roadhogs!

He steps on the accelerator and now they’re driving close behind the inter-city bus.

Steve: Look at those fuckoff kids. Well, at any rate, they seem happy.

From Melissa’s point of view we see the windows of the back of the bus ahead. Two children are in the back window, waving and gesticulating wildly. They are Sara and Moonshine!

Melissa: Steve, Steve, it’s the kids! My kids. Look!

She’s waving excitedly back at them.

Melissa: It’s Sara and Moonshine! Quick! Make the bus stop! It’s them!

She presses her hand down on Steve’s horn.

Melissa: Flick your lights! Make them stop! Overtake them!

Meanwhile she’s miming at the children to get their bus driver to stop. Steve flashes the lights and tries to get his bus to go faster. The vehicle gives a spurt forward, the children are jumping up and down, thrilled. There is a small clank from the engine, Steve’s bus loses speed.

Melissa: Oh no! Steve, overtake them, you arsehole!

But their bus continues to lose speed and the distance between them and the inter-city bus is increasing. Expressions of unbelief and grief on the faces of the disappointed children.

Melissa has already opened the door of the bus to be able to shout the better and now, as Steve’s vehicle jerks to an ignominious halt, she’s out on the road, waving after the bus. Then she’s venting her fury on Steve who’s climbed out to join her. The bus finally disappears round a bend.

Melissa is kicking Steve and they are having a blazing row by the roadside.

Melissa: It’s always the same. Why the rut can’t you get a vehicle that goes!

Steve: But I’ve only just met you!

Melissa: Yes, but I know your type.

Melissa strikes him in fury. Behind them the engine emits a pathetic puff of steam. They are too busy with their recriminations to notice faint cries of :

Sara & Moonshine: Mum! Mum!

The children have evidently succeeded in getting their bus to stop because now, joyfully, Sara and Moonshine are running back down the road towards them.

They jump into Melissa’s arms and mother and children go into an embrace and, with tears of joy, Melissa is crying.

Sara: Mum, we had cocoa pops and cocoa with cream and sugar.

Steve is going at the carburettor of the vehicle with a sledge hammer. As our little family enjoy their reunion we see Steve start the bus and jerkily get it to travel the hundred yards or so, followed by Melissa, Lynn, Sara, Moonshine, into a Greasy Spoon Café. It’s a way out place, a portacabin in the middle of a concrete wasteland where many long distance lorries are parked. The bus engine jerks again to a stop.

Moonshine: Chips. Can we have chips, Mum?

Melissa and the younger children go into the café, Melissa still crying with tears of joy as she orders the chips. The children exchange glances, a little shy of her.

Meanwhile Steve is working on the vehicle. He misjudges the moment to remove the radiator cap and there is a gushing jet of water.

In a phone booth at the side of the café, Lynn is telephoning, unnoticed by Steve or her mother.

The misty evening turns into night, the traffic gets rarer and then almost non existent. Melissa and the two youngest leave the café. Moonshine clutches a grubby giant toy rabbit she’s been given.

Lynn helps the children to bed in the bus. Melissa puts on the kettle. Steve is still outside, tinkering. It seems that they’re going to be having an evening of happy family reunion.

But Lynn is sitting by the window, waiting.

Much later that evening, a car comes into the forecourt. It is Fran, a young rather vulnerable looking pretty social services worker, come to take Lynn into care. This is the moment Melissa has been dreading and Lynn has been waiting for, and she goes quickly out of the bus before her mother notices. Fran puts her arm protectively round Lynn’s shoulder and tells her to get into the car. Lynn has evidently been telling Fran some fairly lurid (and truthful) stories of her life over the past weeks and Fran clearly feels the other children are also in danger.

Melissa comes out of the bus towards the car to try to persuade Lynn not to go, but as Fran moves towards the bus suddenly fears she may be going to try to take Sara and Moonshine as well. She runs back to the bus to protect Sara and Moonshine and gets into bed with them.

Fran peers in and asks;

Fran: Good evening, Mrs Meacle, may I have a quick look in the bus?

But Steve realises what is happening, gets between Fran and the bus and says;

Steve: (to Fran) Get out of my face.

Fran and Steve eye each other and Fran backs down.

Fran goes to the car and starts the engine.

Lynn: Bye, Mum!

From Melissa’s point of view we see the car edge back onto the trunk road and drive away with Fran and Lynn.

Melissa and Steve know that the social services will be back sooner or later to check out the other children. As the film draws towards its close, we see Melissa desperately cuddling her children, sitting up in the bed, while Steve works frenziedly on the engine, trying to get it going so they can drive away out of trouble.

Melissa is now nearly hysterical with fear that the other children may be taken away as well. She shouts towards where Steve is working outside the bus;

Melissa: Steve, if you don’t get this fucking thing going, they’ll come back and take the other fucking kids as well!

Sara and Moonshine start crying, but almost immediately, with a roar, the engine starts up. Steve outside, and Melissa and the children inside, shout in ecstasy.

The sounds of the engine get louder and more regular and the bus shakes as Steve climbs into the cabin and lets off the brake.

With a jerk, throwing them all sideways, the bus begins to move forward. There comes a ferocious pounding and banging on the side of the bus. The bus slows a little.

Melissa: Drive on, Steve, you arsehole, or they’ll get us!

As the bus jerks forward again, the side door swings open. Melissa clutches the children, terrified. It is Lynn who hurls herself into the bus and into her mother’s arms.

Lynn: I couldn’t leave you, Mum!

Melissa and her daughters are in floods of tears as the bus, hurtling them all around, gathers speed.

Another lurch as Steve gets into a higher gear and the bus is zooming forward, not along the trunk road, but along a smaller country road at the back of the café.

We may pull back into the sky to show the now diminutive bus speeding ever faster along country roads, through the early morning mists and, as our view enlarges to include the trunk road, the flashing lights of minute police cars and large council bulldozers travelling at speed and with urgency; friends to some, but enemies to others.


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