Camping. It’s a word to strike mortal fear into the heart of anyone who has suffered under canvas, which is statistically everyone who has tried tented life for a laugh“. It’s only funny if you’re watching other people being swept down a rain lashed hillside, while simultaneously pots, pans and the odd domestic animal are braining them through the onset of extreme gravity. Now that’s properly funny.
Four years ago, I wrote this:
Now let’s talk about tents. No, actually let’s not as it’s clear to me there are two types of people in this world, those who believe camping is a fun and healthy encounter with the rugged outdoors and the rest of us who see that as the rantings of a delusional madman. I’m sorry but there is only one agreeable night-time experience that doesn’t allow me to stand up, roll over or sleep and it’s not camping.”
I’ll not bore you with when or even why I kept it but rather place it as a marker for when camping became synonymous with misery, torment and pain. Those freezing nights in the staying awake” bag, wet on the outside, clammy on the inside with only creepy crawly night creatures birthing young in your ear for company.
It’s not always been this way, when I was a nipper and tents were still exciting spaces where you cherished your independence and drank sticky liquids from forgotten bottles stolen from the drinks cupboard, we had the best tent ever. And that’s not just misty eyed remembrance tarnishing the facts here “ in the best tradition of sex shops everywhere, this particular type was the blow-up model. 10 minutes with a footpump and hey presto, a tent in which you could stand up, lie down and swing a medium-sized placid cat. It was some time ago and it may have been second-hand but my recollection is that this tent cost about£20 or we swapped it for half a Morris Marina.
However since the horror of ten consecutive tented days in 2002, I’ve been pretty consistent in my verbal hatred of tents which I suppose must have been the trigger for when tents attack“.
When considering a venue to have a really shit time in a tent, I’d be surprised to hear the Westbound M4” being mooted as the ideal place to dig in your chemical toilet. But this was my first thought as great swathes of camping equipment rushed headlong towards the car windscreen. First to hit was the Suicide” Bomber jacket flirting briefly with a terrifying union involving the windscreen wipers. Once this inital salvo has passed overhead, the big guns opened up with the cutlery artillery, backed by infantry tent poles doubling as spears.
Battling on through this three dimensional outdoor catalogue was more than a little perturbing as were the expensive ˜pinging’ noises as campaign hardened metal cups stripped expensive paint from the car body. Thank God I don’t own a convertible. Actually on balance convertible ownership would be slightly less embarrassing than death by tent pole.
As the barrage intensified, I made out the mobile missile launcher abandoned on the hard shoulder. Two rather expressive professional campers (you know the type, big hair, Christmas jumper, stout shoes and a beard you could upholster a chair with) with expressions of horror, were whirling their arms around in some kind of complex firing sequence.
Obviously I ran them both down both as both a ˜service to the gene pool‘ and a proportional response to the attack of the killer Trangia.
Well ok I didn’t. But I wanted to and it’s only our supposed righteous justice system that declaims such as act as a bad thing which stopped me. And the rather less interesting fact that the roof mounted luggage pod on their camper van had opened up like a reluctant oyster and started spitting their holiday shelter across three lanes of traffic.
Aw, shame. And don’t get me started on Satan’s hell carrier; I speak of course of the much hated caravan. My kids, from a very young age, would gurgle delightfully from the rear seats and shout fucking caravan” while pointing and pulling faces. I think it’s important as a parent to pass on some of your core values.