Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Camping: Man versus nature

Camping! A battle between man and the elements since time immemorial, a life under canvas as families go back to basics, living off their wits and whatever the land can provide. Just as long as there is an electrical hook-up and decent wireless reception.

The act of loading one's earthly goods into the back, the front and on top of a Nissan Micra to live for a week under the stars in the New Forest is essentially the 21st Century version of providing for your family through your long-forgotten hunter-gatherer skills. For it is nothing short of Alpha Male behaviour to discover that there is 3G reception near the toilet block, and not tell anybody, particularly not your camp enemy.

A camp holiday is nothing without having a camp enemy. In the loose camping tribe that makes up both yourself and the other tents on your site, there will be the camp smug git who is the enemy to all. He is driving a brand new German car with trophy wife and exactly two blonde children with unlikely names. He will have the biggest tent with a massive awning, which will - of course - glow not with gas lantern, but with portable TV. He will push in at the washing-up station and the shower block, and leave all the gates open.

His will also be the tent where you walk your dog up and down, down and up until you get the required result, because he is your camp enemy. Then, you feel guilty, clean it up, and nod good morning when he uses up the last of the toilet paper in the communal john.

It is, although you don't know it, every man for himself in these circumstances, particularly when you find that the village General Store is actually a Generally We Don't Store Anything Except The Daily Mail And Sometimes Jam, and you arrive at the local cafe to find your camp enemy already there, smugly tucking into the last cream tea for thirty miles.

It is at that exact moment that General Store receives an unexpected supply of fresh, no-questions-asked meat, and you may smugly tuck into the last cream tea for thirty miles, before returning to your empty life of numb consumerism and occasional murder, your unearthly need for Swingball (The true Sport of Kings) well and truly sated for another year.

Such are the trials of the middle classes.

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