Part 103: Camping


A couple of weeks ago my friend Joni, Amy’s mum – you remember Amy? My mate who threw the dinner party where I was diagnosed as a psychopath – and who has demanded I let you all know that she did NOT, in fact, serve warm rosé at that event, as I told you she did when I wrote about it, what can I say, I’m a massive liar – messaged me on Facebook. ‘Remember that time you camped with us at Pevensey Bay and got drunk, sick and homesick and stayed in the tent all day,’ she wrote, ‘is that reason to be single?’

Well, Joni, I’ve thought about it and I’ve decided that, yes, camping is a reason to be single – everything is, if you think about it hard enough and are only half serious – but not because I freaked out on that trip. Camping is only a reason to be single when you use it as an extended metaphor. As I am about to do now, for your delight and pleasure.

All my life I thought of myself as a city girl. I was London born and bred (and I will leave Yorkshire to return there just as soon as fate sorts his life out and grants me a doctorate and man with enough money to buy the Big Breakfast house, which, I have been reliably informed, by a bloke with no teeth who runs a café nearby, can be purchased for the reasonable sum of seven million pounds). I liked Brutalist buildings, fast cars and tube trains. The sound of sirens. Buying cockles in the pub from a man with a white coat and a wicker basket. I liked swearing, and anonymity. Shouting at strangers. Boys with staffies on leads and hooded tops and great big spliffs hidden in cupped hands, like snails curled inside their shells. Girls with over-sized earrings and hard stares and faux fur coats, who looked as if they might fuck you up at any given moment, but almost never did.

I was not down with the outdoors if it involved the countryside – where they only have miles and miles of grass and weeds and nervous sheep grazing on clover.

I was certain, as I moved through my adolescence and into fabulous, that all I needed was my concrete edged home city – which was cold and indifferent and would never love me, but which I could shape myself to, if I really tried, so that eventually our edges would rub together in a manner not entirely unlike something from a porn film (I’m not really talking about London now. I’m talking about boys. You probably know that, because I told you this was a metaphor, but I like to make sure the dumber among you don’t get lost – as usual, you’re welcome).

And then I went camping.

And the grass was both silken and spiky, and the weeds were dandelions that you could blow into the azure sky and wish upon, and the sheep bleated songs and stared right at you when you bleated back, like they might fuck you up and any given moment, but almost never did. And it was beautiful – even when the rain soaked through the canvas and made your nightie damp.

I didn’t have to meld myself to the countryside because I was already part of it. I could just lie on my back and absorb it through my pores and my ears and my big blue eyeballs, and then fall asleep and wake up broiled by the sunlight and trudge to the communal showers dressed in flip-flops with wild mad person hair and all the camping people would smile and say good morning and let me wash myself at a trough as though this were perfectly normal. Which, of course, it was.

Can you see what I’m getting at here? CAN YOU? Camping is the man I want that I didn’t know I wanted – that’s the metaphor!

No, he’s probably not going to be that alpha male with the chiselled jaw line and the mean Rottweiler eyes and the cold indifference that I’ll try but never succeed in shaping myself to. He’ll be open and expansive, like an azure sky, and I’ll be able to lie there and drink him in through my pores and my ears and my big blue eyeballs and he’ll be underneath me like the ground – but only sometimes in a sexual way – supportive and balancing and only wanting to hold me up.

Now I know about him, so I have to wait, patiently single, until he comes along.

Don’t get me wrong – I still want to move back to London. I did not have room in the metaphor to point out that I suffer from hay fever. Which makes camping an activity I actually don’t love all that much. This does not undermine the central thesis of this post, though. I still deserve a kind strong man who loves me. I’m just saying it would be a bonus if he had seven million pounds going spare. And I also wouldn’t be totally adverse to a staffie, or a Rottweiler.

*image by duron123 at


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