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Henry Sparks - 07 Sep 2019


By Sunday when we left I felt strangely unself-conscious and open to things. I had heard so many interesting people around me sharing ideas and feelings that it felt the normal way of things.

So it is nearly a week since I came off the 'Campifire Convention Campout'. A baptism of fire in a number of ways. The most obvious being the 'Campout' part of the equation. Julie and I had never camped out together. Some would say that that was a foolish omission on our part. I would maintain that we are practical about where we want to fight our battles.

The logistical side of things was daunting to start with. Luckily a friend kindly loaned us a tent which we did sulkily erect in the garden at home before the big day.

When it came to it, it was the sleeping which was most trouble. I woke up cold and sore and would have been extremely bad tempered (or worse than I actually was) had we not been issued with a stove to make tea on by our kind equipment friend.

A wonderful time for me was watching the camp come awake from a director's chair with tea at the elbow. I learned that doing nothing and just letting my mind wander was something to cultivate rather than consider as a waste of time.

The most startling thing I learned about myself was that I had celebrated the Brighton bombing at the time. I am afraid that I was so immediately shocked that I did not have the guts to then share it with the group.

I do not think at the time of the bombing I had cottoned on to the idea that violence just creates more violence although it may be seen as the last and only resort of the ignored.

In a listening session later I shared this and a fellow listener said he had felt the same about the bombing. What I take away from this is that we can and do change with time and information.

I found a great place to go and play guitar and sing down by the pond under the 'room' of a willow tree. What a fantastic studio. I did not see anyone down there except a camper with small boy who stayed a while for a chat by the water one afternoon. The enthusiastic boy meanwhile moved all the debris from the pond bank into the pond. I wonder if he is so good at clearing up at home? I somehow doubt it.

I was lucky to experience the harp, the tea, the fire, and the company at the night time Heart Gym. It was a way of sharing time with others. It is ok to do nothing...together.

By Sunday when we left I felt strangely unself-conscious and open to things. I had heard so many interesting people around me sharing ideas and feelings that it felt the normal way of things. The guy who cut me up on the roundabout before Stonehenge on the way home soon put me right on the current way of the world.

Camping...well...Closing up for the night I parked the 'glass' of cider carefully by the feet of the closed director's chair in the tent. I put the LED night-light on the arm of the chair so it would be easy to find later. I turned around to arrange my sleeping bag and nudged the chair with my foot. The nightlight fell off the chair arm and into the cider. Hole in one!

I laughed, I could not have done that had I tried.  You can learn something from anything (or anyone).





Ralph Pettingill

Great to hear someone else's take on the Campout... and I was one of those people, who , back in the 1980s, shared in the joking and anger at the Tories in Brighton...


Geoff Greentree

Thanks Henry.. Great pic! I remember being in a Brixton caff (proper old school, 2 day old tea brews, no americano then) the morning of the bombing. Everyone was celebrating. Such was the divisions in those Class War days, Thatcher and Tebbit were despised and rightly so yet now like you and Ralph I see the error of our feelings then. The Mirror turned their paper 90 degrees so as to give the impression that the Iron Lady was dead, so we were manipulated. By media and class just as now. Now though I know all we need is love (and will and imagination); as Yoko Ono wrote "Imagine Peace" ..Ashamed now at how our generation sold out the future from unborn feet tho some of us kept the faith and persist even now. We were described as "the enemy within" as were Scargill's striking miners back then, a reminder of the inflaming rhetoric now reemerging. Honey in the heart..



I love reading other's people's experience of campout - particularly enjoyed the "sulky" erecting of the tent in the garden beforehand!
Well done for being camp virgins no longer!
Thanks for sharing your musical and relational journey with us all Henry, - especially for your candour around the Brighton bombing. What a deep relief it must be to realise that our thoughts and beliefs are not set in stone, and that love usually manages to find a crack through which it can shine in on us.

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