Wednesday Word Tangle: Why being camp online is better than developing trench foot in Shropshire


Image: Pixabay

For those of you wondering where I snuck off to for the month of April and why I was commenting less than usual, let me tell you – I was at camp.

Now, before you imagine me in my shorts, acoustic guitar in hand, giving a rousing rendition of ‘Ging Gang Goolie’ whilst adjusting my woggle before a roaring fire of Boy Scouts – stop. 

The closest I’ve ever come to physically camping was a night in March in a field somewhere near Ludlow. There was a tumbledown farmhouse looming like a Gothic ruin in the twilight, two of us squashed into a one man tent (I woke up several times with my face pressed up against the clammy tent wall) – and no ground sheet.

I spent the night fully dressed, freezing cold, trying to get comfortable whilst a builder’s yard’s worth of gravel tattooed my softest areas with bruises and gallons of chill Shropshire rain fell like a river around – and for some time through – the too thin membrane that protected this townie from the elements. 

Yes, the sunrise (once the deluge was over) and the cacophany of birdsong were amazing.

But they would have been more amazing viewed from the balcony of a B & B with an ensuite and tea and coffee making facilites rather than with wet feet, sleep deprivation and gnawing loathing and resentment for my then partner.

The kind of camping I have just returned from is the only kind for me. For you see, I was at CampNaNoWriMo, a scaled down version of NaNoWriMo, where writers can choose their own word limits and focus on scribbling as much as possible over the thirty days.

A bit of outdoorsy terminolgy and references to smores was the closest I came to going Bear Grylls on someone’s ass.

In honour of this, I have chosen


for this week’s Wednesday Word Tangle.

Now, for those of us living in the UK, the word ‘camp’ has a couple of meanings. There is of course, ‘camping’ in the ‘to pitch an inadequate tent and get pee wet through in Shropshire’ sense.

There is also ‘camp’ in the effeminate, exagerratedly theatrical sense. I don’t think this is meant of as an insult in any way. Some of the UK’s most popular entertainers are described by others and themselves as camp – Graham Norton, Julian Clary, Alan Carr, Paul O’Grady  all use their theatricality as part of their act and we take them to our hearts as national treasures.

Maybe it stems from our Panto tradition, where ‘Dames’ such as Widow Twankey are always played by older men, but camp men are part of the culture here.

The derivation of ‘camp’ meaning theatrical seems unclear, but could stem from the cant language, Polari. This is slang – possibly dating as far back as the sixteenth century – a pic and mix of Romany, Italian, London slang, Yiddish, sailor and thief slang. Used largely among travellers and circus people, it was adopted by gay men – especially in the theatre – so they could talk and gossip amongst themselves and about each other without outsiders understanding them in the days when to be openly gay could see you sent to jail. Its use in the gay community dropped off after the legalisation of homosexuality in the late 1960s.

So during April I wrote 27,000 words of a new project and met some very lovely new writer friends – which is better than developing trench foot in Shropshire on every level.

And just for fun, have a go at Ging Ganging your Goolies along to this. Altogether now –



With love and thanks, as always to blogging pal Kat, the founder of the W4W feast.

And thanks to my fellow Plot Bunnies for a great April. Happy scribbling.