Camping jokes are wearing a little thin

I sometimes despair of the mainstream media and their endless outdated appetite for getting cheap laughs out of camping. The latest assault was a piece in the Telegraph a couple of days ago by some dimwit who went camping ill-prepared, and then made that the excuse for knocking what for millions of people is a very pleasurable pursuit.

In fact, unless you’re camping with a scout group, you’d be hard pressed to find some canvas to sleep under these days, and yet that’s what these tired, hackneyed pieces of journalism still refer to as camping. I’ve spent weeks at a time in a tent, and not once been cold, wet or hungry. Any idiot can be uncomfortable, as this chap in the Telegraph proved when he set off with a tent he hadn’t even bothered pitching first in his garden to check he knew how it went up. And he was mocking his fellow campers for looking as though they were prepared for nuclear war when he hadn’t even brought any cooking equipment of his own. He didn’t even have a torch!

For some strange reason, camping always appears to be fair game for any half-baked writer, TV or radio producer who wants to make a joke out of it, but really, the jokes are incredibly tired. It is no credit to the Telegraph for publishing this sort of tripe. Back in the days when the paper was edited by Max Hastings, the Daily Telegraph Weekend section covered the outdoors authoritatively. Needless to say they were using my features about camping and walking, and I was sharing the outdoors pages with the likes of Nick Crane and Jonathon Porritt. You might think that in these austere times, when more people are staying at home to holiday, and looking at things like camping as an affordable means of taking a break, respected newspapers such as the Telegraph should be producing something on the subject a little more positive.

As a writer, I appreciate the use of self-deprecating humour, and I also accept that some features can entertain rather than inform. But if you’re going to try to be funny, best make sure your joke isn’t one that’s already been done to death.

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