Evil In Tent – A Campaign Against Camping
Never mind Brexit; I hope there’s a special place in Hell for whoever invented camping.
Perhaps if I’d been introduced to camping when I was younger I might have been persuaded of its attractions, because at that age my attitude to personal hygiene was a better match for what is achievable when camping, i.e. rudimentary. But no, my life proceeded on a smooth upward trajectory, taking in having my own flat with a bath (but no shower), to my own house (in which I had a shower installed), to a life of wedded bliss in a house with many high-quality and well-organised sanitary installations, and a significant incentive, in the form of my wife, to use them to good effect.
This journey has taken many years, nay decades, and has brought me to a place where I gratefully have the use of plentiful electricity and hot running water, comfortable showers, flushing toilets with soft-closing seats, and elegant basins with functioning plugholes and mirrors conveniently placed for ease of shaving. I have a comfortable bed with a set of pillows evolved over the years to properly support my weary head as I rest it, within a few paces of the toilet that, being the age I am, I have to visit at least once during the night and can do so without having to dress myself. I have control over whether I have light or darkness, sound or silence. Life, in short, is good; I have been fortunate indeed in my choice of parents, background, era, domicile and life partner, but I feel also that I have worked somewhat on self-improvement (with patient encouragement from the distaff side) to the point where I can look upon myself as a reasonably decent specimen of humanity. I am lucky, comfortable and grateful for it.
So why the actual fuck would I want to throw that away, eh?
Why on earth should I actively seek an environment that is unknowable except that I can be sure that it lacks running water, any shadow of sensible control over heat or light, any access to the electricity which is so essential to a decent existence, any reasonable probability of comfort in the daily round of sleeping, waking and abluting?
Why, in short, would I ever want to go camping?
I write this as I sit on a white coral sandy beach looking at the matchless blue of the Indian Ocean under welcome shade, in glorious sunshine, a cooling breeze and a perfect temperature. I have a gin-and-tonic to hand. I have the realistic expectation of a superb lunch, due to be served imminently by people who have nothing but my enjoyment at heart. I have seen beautiful mountain scenery; I will shortly experience the wonders of the Arabian desert. I am lucky; I am grateful; I am content. Except....
To be fair to Hudhud Travels, who have superbly organised a camping experience that includes as many creature comforts as possible, and my wife, who has encouraged me to come on this holiday and thus experience bits of Oman which surely are not available unless one spends the nights hours off the beaten track under canvas, things could be a whole lot worse and I should be grateful to them, and the universe in general, for what I’m experiencing.
Counterbalancing that is the memory of the first two nights in Oman, so cold that the only option after (an excellent) dinner was to go to bed with a hot water bottle and try to get warmth back into the frozen marrow of my bones, with, lowering over me, the bleak foreknowledge of having to put shoes on in order to stumble in darkness and cold to an outside tent where the lighting is so poor that I have no idea where I’m pissing; and that come the morning I will have to take a three-part shower – warm water, then soaping myself as I rapidly get cold again, then a final rinse in warm water; and then undergoing the final indignity of trying to get wet feet back through pyjama trousers, which involves precision limb manoeuvring whilst standing on one leg and not falling over (I can’t even do this in the quiet calm of a yoga class, far less in the freezing dark of an Omani mountain top). Even in the warmth and light of our site by the Indian ocean, the whole process is fraught with danger and sand. And don’t try to convince me that shaving in the absence of a decent mirror and decent amounts of hot running water is anything but a foolhardy exploit.
I am experiencing the very acme of glamping, and almost all of it is lovely – the environs, the scenery, the food, the service and the company. I am enjoying these aspects immensely. But the dark foreboding of the impossibility of managing one’s toilette with any sense of dignity preserved is a counterbalance of sufficient force that I can predict with a fair degree of certainty that my future tourism is going to be based around the comfort and certainty of staying in decent hotels. Or nice cruise ships. Or somewhere, at least, with hot water and electricity. Or anything except the rudimentary accommodation that is life under canvas.