Camping it up.

Lisa Reiter’s latest prompt (http://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/bite-size-memoir-no-5-camping/#more-926) is on the subject of camping.  We didn’t camp as a family; probably because Mum had rheumatoid arthritis and her joints wouldn’t have appreciated all that damp and bending. But looking back I think it was because camping is quite an intimate occupation. There’s no privacy. We certainly weren’t a family that exposed itself to one another; the idea that men and women might be different underneath their clothes hadn’t occurred to me by the time I went on my first camp with the Boy Scouts.

02- BOX - 018

The archaeologist in ‘sexy beast’ mode: barefoot too

And so some things were explained. Why then? Why not at my primary school or at some friend’s house? As I say camping is intimate; it’s in the air, in the environment. We all dressed and undressed together; we took early morning swims; we stood at the side of a huge latrine and invented the light sabre with our urine long before George Lucas.

Of course it’s there, in the language, if you look for it. The erotic component of camping. The tents had a ‘bell end’. You ‘erected’ them. They were held down by ‘guy ropes’. Coming from a repressed household where anything sexual was ignored or tutted away, going to camp was my initial sex education – unstructured and confusing as it was. I suppose it is no surprise that my memories of camping reflect that oddly inconsistent awakening.

Camping it up

 

My mind turns to sex when camping is mentioned. My earliest memories are as a Boy Scout (bear with me). I was ten; the talk in the tent was all about  boy’s trains going into girl’s tunnels and wet dreams. I laughed a beat behind everyone else.

We camped in Wales, near Lampeter. I was twelve. The older boys did a night hike and were still asleep at noon even though the tents were baking. One boy, seventeen I guess, lay asleep by the tent door, naked. My first sight of pubic hair and an erection. I was still staring, fascinated when Gerry dropped the lit match. How quickly the fire took hold; how visceral the scream; how fast we scattered. Even now, I can’t help but smile if someone says ‘bush fire’.

And the first female nipple I saw on the movie screen was Barbara Windsor’s in Carry on Camping.

Sex education has come a long way since the sixties.

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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11 Responses to Camping it up.

  1. Rayray says:

    Hahaha I am laughing so much!!!!! That poor guy!!!! Was he okay in the end???

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  2. Lisa Reiter says:

    Geoff Thank you. How refreshingly ‘frank’ and honest. I think some people are scared or may find memoir difficult if they feel they have to sanitise a memory. Whilst I’m sure there are bits left out here, I’m delighted its not all ging-gang-goolie !

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    • TanGental says:

      thank you Lisa. Yes, it was difficult to find the balance but I think the joy of your prompts lies in allowing the honesty of the response to surface. It isn’t as if I’m easily embarrassed anyway!

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  3. Annecdotist says:

    Liked it, Geoff. I did a lot of camping when there was no viable alternative and I did enjoy being so much closer to the wilds but, at heart, I’m like your mother, I like my privacy even when I’m sleeping.
    BTW, how come Annecdotal has disappeared from blog lists on the sidebar? Have you seen that I’ve nominated your blog for the versatile blogger award. Acceptance optional, but do come and have a look: http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/on-versatility-awards-a-womans-place-and-camping
    You might need to check my tally of how many posts you’ve done.

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  4. TanGental says:

    Hey Anne! An award! That’s so kind and utterly undeserved. How do these things work? (Answer: read the post, moron!) I have a mail form you I the inbox so I will come to your past later today (seeing a man about a book cover next). As for the loss of Annecdotist, I will go and find out. I’m still umbilically linked, fear not (you being my anchor to this whole operation). I think it may result from the fact that, as the first blog I followed, when I reach a certain number the earliest drop off the list. Now I’m there I will check and re-do them so you stay on!

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  5. Sarah Brentyn says:

    Ack! Because NO! I have two boys and I just want to cover my eyes! One just turned ten. :-\

    Also, mommyhood aside, so funny. And well done, as always.

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    • TanGental says:

      It was really very innocent – me especially. As a father to a now 24 year old I’m well aware how sophisticated they seem by comparison but it is just a façade. If there’s one lesson I’d share, which I don’t think is a purely British trait, it is that, if they (boys) become entirely simian at about 13 or 14, grunting and grooming each other for small morsels of insect life and you wonder where that articulate little chap has gone, they do emerge, as an imago from a chrysalis at 17 or so, still with the power of speech. It is a wonder to behold.

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  6. Gordon Le Pard says:

    The archaeologist remembers that picture, he had just done some horrendous hike and, on arriving home, had removed his boots in bliss. Then someone decided they wanted a picture of him carrying the kitchen sink etc. he was prepared to hoist the pack on his back, but not put those boots on again (at that time he didn’t want to put the boots on ever again).

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  7. lucciagray says:

    I didn’t take part this week because I’ve never been camping, but I’ve been reading all your posts, and I just had to drop by and say your post was hilarious, actually I’ll never be able to keep a straight face again when I hear ‘bush fire’, either, lol.

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