Martin Roberts

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Shout about your love of caravanning from the rooftops – TV star and Practical Caravan columnist Martin Roberts recalls the time he first did exactly that

That's it, I’ve come out in public – on national radio. After years of keeping my private passion under the awning, one day last week I found myself overcome by the need to support and defend my own kind and reveal all. I feel a weight has been lifted. No longer do my wife and I need to shuffle uncomfortably at some dinner parties when the subject is raised. I feel liberated and ready to shout from the toilet-block rooftop:

“I AM A CARAVANNER!”

What started as a mundane Friday morning ended, rather bizarrely, with me appearing on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2, defending the world of caravanning against a motoring journalist called ‘Zogg’. Ray Mears, the survival expert, had caused an avalanche of publicity when it was disclosed on the TV show Room 101 that he had less than positive views towards the caravan world. This in itself might have gone unreported, had he not been booked to open one of the caravan industry’s flagship events.

As faux pas go, you’ve got to hand it to the guy. I wonder if his agent had even told him of this particular engagement, or if it was just another in a long list of personal appearances? However, the knock-on effect of his comments was to whip up a dust storm of pro- and anti-caravan sentiment, with all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork to spout their personal prejudices.

At first, I was bemused. Surely attacking caravanners – who from my experience are a harmless, friendly and unaggressive bunch – was like having a go at the Salvation Army or the Women’s Institute? Suddenly, every motorist who’d been stuck behind a tourer at any point in their life, or anyone who once knew somebody who had a great aunt who had a neighbour who parked their caravan in the drive for an hour, was on radio phone-ins or tweeting their thoughts.

Happily, it wasn’t long before a tidal wave of indignation and support was swung into action to the defence of caravanners.

“The phone lines are going crazy,” proclaimed Jeremy Vine just before the item. “And we haven’t even done the story yet!”

So I went on and declared my love of caravanning. I don’t think Zogg was expecting quite the spirited argument he got. Now, not only do the readers of Practical Caravan know of my love, but also millions of Radio 2 and Radio 5 listeners from another show that day.

So far, the response has been positive. We haven’t lost too many of our friends. I’m still being asked to present Homes under the Hammer and our children aren’t being taunted at school. So, if you sneak out of the newsagent with your copy of Practical Caravan hidden between the Financial Times and Private Eye, can I urge you to publically declare your secret love? You’ll feel much better for it.

Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter
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