Allan Sherman, Camp Granada and “Missin’ The Wi-Fi”

For reasons too boring to mention, we decided to have a short “staycation” this summer – That term came into being a few years ago after the global recession really started to kick in and the spending frenzy on things like luxury holidays went out of fashion for a while. To be honest, in view of what is happening around the world at the moment, I am pretty sure many more of us are thinking along those lines this year but of course the problem with staycations in the UK is that our green and pleasant land is not renowned for reliable, hot, sunny, weather.

True to form, the first three days of our holiday have been beset by heavy rain at worst and light drizzle at best. Brave faces put on though and my husband, Mr Sporty Spice, has still been able to head off with his boys’ toys which involve wheels, sails and boards. As for me, my plan was to do some reading, writing and attempt to take some “artsy” photographs. Turns out that the reading has been easy but something I could have done at home, the photography has been challenging due to the inclement weather but as for the writing, and more specifically blogging – downright impossible. I am incredibly lucky to live within an hour’s drive from some of the most spectacular scenery and beaches in the country but the downside of all this natural glory is……. Not a lot of Wi-Fi or even a paltry little phone signal – Missin’ the Wi-Fi, really missin’ the Wi-Fi.

Fortunately day four is now upon us however and as forecast (when I eventually managed to pick up a signal last night in a slightly dodgy bar) the weather today is absolutely glorious. Already had a long walk along the beach this morning taking some pretty spectacular shots, and children are now out of their cagoules and into building sandcastles. I have to say, all of a sudden life is sweet – Not “missin’ the Wi-Fi” so much at all, and to be honest, feeling a tad guilty that I seem to have become so addicted to it. (I’m definitely not alone though, as a group of sullen teens who are obviously similarly afflicted are hogging the one and only hotspot in the area.)

So, what song inevitably came to mind when I walked along the beach this morning? One from my days of listening to Junior Choice on a Saturday morning presented by another name from the long list of those sadly departed in 2016, Ed “Stewpot” Stewart – Hello Mother, Hello Father (A Letter From Camp) was a novelty song recorded by American comedy writer Allan Sherman in 1963 as a result of receiving letters of complaint from his son Robert whilst at camp in upstate New York. The first few days at the fictional Camp Granada were beset by problems and homesickness but inevitably as soon as the sun came out and the fun began, Dad was told to disregard the letter!

I still find this song really funny and if you have kids, an oh-so familiar tale. Sadly today, assuming kids who go to camp do actually get a phone signal, after the first few texts of complaint and homesickness to parents, they will probably be metaphorically helicoptered out asap, not letting them get past the initial settling in phase which is sometimes needed to get onto the really good, memorable stuff.

I am reminded of a postcard in my collection of family memorabilia sent to my grandmother in the early 1950s by my uncle, who had headed off with The Scouts to a camp in our capital city, Edinburgh. Now I can’t emphasise enough how far this was from his home in rural North-East Scotland and I’m not just talking miles here. What he wrote on the postcard was as follows, “Arrived here safely but I have lost the other boys. Hoping I will find them later on but don’t worry I’m sure I will be fine”. When I found this in with a load of old photographs I had to laugh – My poor little granny must have had a fit when she received this postcard two or three days later. But then again as Mr Sporty Spice and I often remark, much better to just rely on that good old-fashioned maxim – No news is good news. If there is no mobile phone in the first place, there is no anxiety when it is not answered, which in 99.9% of cases is just down to a lack of signal or battery power. A policeman didn’t arrive at the door back in 1951 about my lost uncle, he ended up finding the other boys and had a great holiday so his epistle, like in the song, should definitely have had the postscript “please disregard this letter”.

edinburgh.png

As for me, I’m off to skulk with the sullen teenagers – If they know where the elusive hot spot is, I want a piece of that action!

Hello Mother, Hello Father (A Letter From Camp) Lyrics
(Song by Allan Sherman/Lou Busch)

Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh,
Here I am at Camp Granada
Camp is very entertaining
and they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.

I went hiking with Joe Spivy
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner.

All the counselors hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses.

Now I don’t want this should scare ya
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffrey Hardy
They’re about to organize a searching party.

Take me home, oh muddah fadduh, take me home, I hate Granada
Don’t leave me out in the forest where I might get eaten by a bear.
Take me home, I promise I will not make noise or mess the house with
other boys, oh please don’t make me stay, I’ve been here one whole day.

Dearest fadduh, darling muddah,
How’s my precious little bruddah?
Let me come home if ya miss me
I will even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me.

Wait a minute, it stopped hailing,
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing,
Playing baseball, gee that’s better,
Muddah Fadduh please disregard this letter.

Postscript:

As it turns out I never did find the elusive hot spot so have had to wait until returning home to post this piece of nostalgia. Now out of date but it turns out Tuesday was indeed the hottest day of the summer so far and was followed by more beautiful sunny days so a really enjoyable, relaxing holiday in the end (and our sand sculpture, coming in at 30 feet long, caused quite a sensation!). Doing my bit for the Scottish Tourist Industry I feel with these photographs and although taken on the Dornoch Firth in East Sutherland, it could almost be Nantucket!

One final thought, the recent discovery I made about the late Clash founder Joe Strummer (that his mother came from a small village in the Scottish Highlands) made me realise that my “staycation” was spent on the very beach he would have no doubt frequented as a child if on a visit to his grandparents. Somehow, I find that quite endearing.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

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