|Dibs digs life on the road
Home is a bus called Hedley
Kindly supplied by Ian Brazewell, this is from the Manchester Evening News issue dated Saturday
September 21, 1991
Home from home with Hedley is proving to be just the ticket for Dibs and his mongrel dog Spider. Hedley is
a single-decker bus that spent his working years during the sixties transporting tourists round the Isle of
Wight. He still has Alum Bay displayed on his chrome-finished frontage, that has an almost human look
Dibs is a character that most people would like to call a hippie. He wears a black bashed-in top hat (his
trademark) and 'alternative' cotton patterned trousers. His vegetarian diet consists of beans and lentils, and
his BA in ceramics and glass proved fruitless in helping him to obtain work where he could express himself
fully. He also plays a mean bass guitar.
But although Dibs, at 27, is too young to have belonged to the Flower Power people of the sixties, the strong
attraction to those influential days eventually led J******n D********e (his real name) from Ashton
towards Hedley and a whole new lifestyle.
Dibs now describes himself as a New Age Traveller, since he gave up the idea of running a mobile cafÃ©
seven months ago, the original intention when he paid Â£1,500 for Hedley. "The band I was playing with
suddenly started taking off and I was fed up living in square boxes, so I made the decision to covert the bus
into my pad instead." The transformation is still taking place. With all the seats taken out, the inside now
resembles something between a canal boat and a caravan, albeit much more spacious. "I have lived in
bedsits that were a lot smaller," Dibs mused as he proudly showed his workmanship on the wooden kitchen
"I like good quality wood, not the rubbish furniture is made from today. I usually rescue bits from tips, but
I buy the tongue and groove which I use for the walls." The colourful stained glass window in the â
€˜lounge' is not the work of Hedley's lodger, despite the fact that he is qualified to make them. â
€œStrangely enough, fitting stained glass windows onto buses was something I was seriously thinking of
taking up for a living. There are now lots of people converting buses into homes - even 'straight' people, for
one reason or another." He believes it may be that people are forced into it because of homelessness, or as a
way of evading the poll tax, or simply, like Dibs, it is a personal choice which enables him to lead the
lifestyle he enjoys. "I think the poll tax is vastly unfair if you don't use the services. It should be more like
the American system, where you are taxed on what services you actually use," Dibs explained.
There are now over 40 New Age Travellers in the Manchester area, and the numbers are steadily growing. â
€œWe are often compared to tinkers, but tinkers get very upset about that, and of course they have every
right to, because New Age is nothing to do with their way of life. It is about coming to terms with the fact
that we reject an industrial society and try and survive without it. We have a right to live the life we choose
to the best of our ability and to create peace of mind and happiness," Dibs explained. Not everyone aggress
with that philosophy, which is why Hedley, Dibs and Spider are continually being moved on under the new
Public Order Act. Despite the fact that under the 1980 Caravan Act, each council should provide a traveler
site by law. Dibs is currently somewhere in Stockport.
"There are New Age Traveller sites in Bath, Hereford, Worcestershire and other parts of the country, which
provide basic amenities for travellers. Stockport council's excuse is that there is no available land for a site,"
said Dibs. He survives on a very tight budget, from which he taxes, insures and buys petrol for his mobile
home. He gets his clean water from garages.
His personal belongings have been gradually reduced to the bare minimum - his bass guitar being his prize
possession. Dibs needs that for his psychedelic performances with Krel, a local Manchester band who
promote the New Age message. "We took the name from an ancient race of beings who created a mind
expanding machine in the science fiction film Forbidden Planet. What we are trying to do with our music I
suppose is to try and make people wake up to the fact that science has gone too far and that the world is
going wrong," Dibs explained. "Even if the band started making lots of money, I still wouldn't relish living in
a house. I might buy a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, perhaps, but otherwise it wouldn't change me,"
he said, as he tacked his stuff down, turned on the engine, ready for another journey.